ROBINSON CRUSOE: WHAT CAN HE SHOW US TODAY?
"The one book that teaches all that books can teach"
"I shall pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore
I can do, or any kindness I can show to any human being let me
do it now, let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not
pass this way again."
Robinson Crusoe is not simply
about shipwreck, survival and rescue, but Defoe's novel also relates
one man's spiritual journey in search of self and his goal of
setting things right and making amends. Finding the self may take
a lifetime. It took twenty-eight years on the island for Crusoe
to discover more about himself, and, of course, he had to wait
that number of years before he could make up for past mistakes.
However, we do not have an ocean preventing us from making amends,
and if only readers were to open themselves to this book, for
all its clumsiness, flat style and Eurocentricity, it can, by
illustrating one man's life, illuminate ours.
To begin opening ourselves we must
begin to identify with Crusoe. This is not as easy as it might
seem. For one thing, in my case, he is a man, and I am a woman.
He lived two hundred years ago so had very different values. He
was white. I am not. It is, however, necessary to push these things
aside and go to the text. Look especially at instances when Crusoe
is not the most politically correct of heros- -when he seems most
at odds with our thinking. Consider Crusoe's treatment of Friday.
Friday has no name of his own, and he, the "savage," automatically
becomes a servant. Here, Crusoe is condescending and racist. Yet,
when I look at my own actions towards others, I have to admit
that many times they fall short of being good or just. Let us
be honest, don't we all shun or dislike those not like ourselves
in color, age, social standing, or religion, at some time or other?
One other important flaw--some
might not call it a flaw at all--is Crusoe's bond of utility rather
than bond of mutual respect that forms the basis of his friendships.
Crusoe is a man that, early in the novel, is a friend when the
other person can give something. This can be seen after Cruosoe's
"entering into a strict friendship with this captain." The captain,
"to my great misfortune" writes Crusoe, dies soon after his arrival.
At first readers are a little taken aback by this and other instances
of Crusoe's utilitarian attitude. But closer examination of our
own personal behavior is necessary before we give up on him.
What of our own utilitarian behavior?
For instance, here in college we sit beside other students for
months at a time making small talk and borrowing each other's
notes. But when 18th Century English is finished, the same students
that depended on one another for notes and encouragement do not
even say hello in the corridor! We rather turn away our eyes rather
than have to bother with all that is involved in making a new
friend. A real new friend. Were not, then, all those pleasantries
merely for utility?
This theme of people being used
simply for personal gain is interesting when we consider that
Defoe had his hero denied any human contact for most of his stay
on the island. And in such a manner does Crusoe rage, as we all
would, at his predicament. The hero is at his lowest ebb when
he realizes there are no survivors of a later shipwreck, and he
let loose all of his emotions as he laments, "Oh that there had
been but one! .... Oh had there been but one" (186). Now remember,
this is the same man who, earlier in the novel, sold little Xury,
a boy willing to give his life for Crusoe, into slavery for a
few bits of silver.
So Crusoe was bad. So we are all
users! We all fall short. Perhaps this is why Crusoe constantly
speaks of his unworthiness. This is a man who examines himself
and definitely feels he has fallen short. He constantly speaks
of his "original sin." This is supposed to be the sin of disobeying
his father and going to sea instead of following the relatively
safe path of middle class ordinariness. Crusoe's sin of disobedience
to his father is something that hangs over him for his entire
stay on the island and is deeply wound up in the fiber of his
spiritual questioning. But is Crusoe's sin as terrible as all
Perhaps we can see this disobedience
towards the father as a veil for a bigger issue. Is the sin Defoe
really speaking of the sin of being born human? What is described
as "this propension of nature" (1) may be what is, in actuality,
a description of our frail human nature. A human nature so frail
that it becomes very hard to do what is right. This frail nature
keeps us down in the quagmire of humanness--with our brother Crusoe.
I do not think, then, that we are at liberty to point fingers
at him. Instead, we should ask ourselves why is it so hard to
rise above our smallness, our shallowness, and become great?
Yes. Why is it so hard to ascend
to that higher level of existence? We often try to convert ourselves,
like Crusoe did, to become better individuals, but as Defoe details
so well in his book, we know how hard it is to truly convert.
Sometimes we only pray a little, like Crusoe, when the storm threatens
or the earth rumbles. Perhaps it is not possible to convert at
all. One thing that must be realized is that we certainly have
many opportunities in a lifetime to do so. I had an opportunity
a few weeks ago and I let it pass me by.
We moved into our new parish six
months ago. Usually, by this time both my husband and I have met
all the sick and shut-ins. There was one lady though, Anna, whom
I never went to see. One of Anna's sons killed himself, one of
her daughters is a bag lady, her last daughter has Downs syndrome,
and her other three children never visit her. This lady and her
husband of nearly sixty years had their share of personal hardship.
To add to this, Anna had advanced cancer, so never got out much.
A few weeks ago Anna died.
Since the funeral, yes, everyone
goes to the funeral, I have met her husband. Now that Anna is
gone, he goes for long walks and dropped in one night. Through
speaking with him, listening to his mourning, I have gotten to
know his wife. But the guilt of never bothering to visit and get
to know her, the person, is still with me. The selfish reason
for not visiting her was I did not want to share in her unhappiness.
I did not want the emotional burden of going to her home and sharing
in her life. I did not have time to feel sad. I have enough of
my own sadness, I thought.
So I missed that one chance to
raise myself up--on to higher ground. This is, I am sorry to say,
all too common, not only in my life, but in general. We are so
busy becoming successful that it is easy to forget what is really
important--people and relationships. There is only time to concentrate
on the physical and neglect what is spiritual. And this is what
Crusoe is all about. He shows us the race for things is not as
important as a human voice or human companionship. What we have
to strive at is to overcome the need to be in that race for things,
that "obstinacy" of human frailty, that wants to eat, to swamp
us, as the storm or wild animals want to consume Crusoe.
Those wild animals never did get
Crusoe. He was, in fact very lucky. In Defoe's prodigal son parable,
Crusoe might not have had his biological parents to come back
and make amends to, but the old captain and the widow, with their
unconditional goodness, make appropriate substitutions. And while
Crusoe is on the island a small fortune accumulates, so he is
well able to put things in order on his return. I know now that
"providence" will not always be as kind to me. I may not get the
chance, as Crusoe did, to make things right when I choose to.
As the writer Stephen Grellet says, I have to do it now.
So you see, there is a lot to be
learnt from Robinson Crusoe! It teaches us the basics so
we do not have to spend twenty-eight years on a desert island.
We learn that what really keeps us down is our human self absorption
and that we have to rise above this terrible selfishness. We learn
that finding the self is acknowledging our frailty and working,
in spite of it, towards making our spiritual side strong. If I
realize what is important in life, I know I have learnt from Crusoe's
experiences and will never have to cry "Oh had there been but
"...I observe that the expectation of evil is more bitter than
Only after several readings of
different portions of Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and several
attempts at drafting a different type of paper, did I finally
decide upon using this particular quotation. For me the best kind
of writing is the one that does itself, and this quote is the
basis for that kind of writing. All I have to do is hold the pen.
My first recollection of being
"locked into" fear (aside from the boogey man, ghosts and witches)
was the first time I had to be absent from school for several
days. I believe I was ill with a sore throat and fever. At the
age of five or six, an hour often feels like a day, and a day
like a week, so to be out of school for four days seemed quite
a LONG time. Anyway, I remember my mother finally telling me I
could go back to school the next morning. While part of me was
happy and excited at the thought of seeing my friends and my teacher,
the other part of me was terrified. What if when I got to my classroom
no one talked to me? (because I hadn't been there). What if my
teacher was mad at me? (because I hadn't been there). What if
they all made fun of me? (because I hadn't been there). What if
I didn't know any answers? (because I hadn't been there). I would
die: I just knew I would. Well, after several hours of this kind
of thinking along with the escalating of fear and anxiety that
accompanied it, I really didn't have to worry about school the
next day; I was making myself too sick to go back! The next morning
after refusing to eat breakfast (which my mother said I was too
excited to eat), I got dressed in my favorite outfit (red corduroy
pants, checkered shirt- -with solid red scarf, red socks and white
sneakers), and sat on the couch-waiting for my older sister, Susan,
to finish getting ready to take me to school. The old fear-thoughts
started again, and this time I had neither the comforts of my
bedcovers nor of a day's respite. With that realization I threw
up, all over myself and my chance to return to school. On the
third morning that pattern failed. I really did recover, and my
re-entry into first grade was in reality very pleasant. My friends
crowded around me; my teacher greeted me warmly; and the most
negative thing that occurred was that I forgot my milk and cookie
money which I was told I could bring in the next day. This memory
agrees intellectually and somatically with Crusoe's above-quoted
The application of this quotation
is not limited in my experience to my early youth. I have been
"locked into" fear and acted in direct opposition to it many a
time and more often than not been surprised and rewarded by the
results. My marital separation and subsequent divorce was such
an experience. At the time of my separation, my son, Terence,
was five years old (one of the first full-day kindergartners)
and my daughter, Maryellen, was two and a half (a terrible toddler).
While there had been arguments and cold-war silences and an ever-
growing accumulation of heart hurts, major disappointments, and
financial failures, there was also a desperate desire to keep
the marriage together.
We sought help through our minister
and a marriage counselor. After several months of couple therapy,
I realized that the only recourse was an end to the marriage.
I was terrified. Wanting my freedom was one thing. Breaking up
a home and taking the responsibility for raising two children
alone was another. All the horror stories I had heard about `single
parent' households flooded my head. Terence became a tragic juvenile
statistic and Maryellen an unwed mother at best. These were two
of my more positive visions of the future. How would I support
them? Would we lose the house? I thought we would drown in my
inadequacy. Only through listening to my own voice, sharing with
friends and family and accepting their help and guidance was I
able to act on what I knew to be the best for me, my children
and even for my ex-husband. The night he came and packed his clothes
to move into his parent's home came and went. I remember sitting
on my couch after he had left with his father, saying to myself,
"so this is it. Two children and seven years later, this is it."
That was the deepest moment of sorrow I had and almost the last.
I can suggest the significance of my loss of Billy by saying that
the only time I noticed he was gone was when I set one less place
at the supper table. In fact, life without Billy was delightfully
unrestrained. We all ate together (no more arguments across the
table); I had no more five-thirty deadlines; the bills were paid
(unlike before); and there was much more laughter in our house.
I joined Terence in attending school. I began taking college courses
at Kingsborough with Maryellen attending the daycare center there.
And even surviving turned out to flow more easily than I had feared.
I was able to keep the house (through financial help from friends).
The kids saw their father on weekends (much like before), and
I was able to fill my time with my own pleasures. My decision
to end my marriage opened the door for the life I enjoy today.
Fear, or the expectation of failure
or defeat does not guarantee its own fruition; non-action, tunnel
vision, loss of choices or options do. The worst kind of decision
is one made by indecision. Where there is faith, choice or hope,
there is an alternative.
ON THE RANDOMNESS OF LIFE: A PERSONAL ESSAY INSPIRED BY
Perhaps it is no more than the
accumulation of years, the simple passage of time that accounts
for the recent turn in my thoughts towards the manner in which
the events of my life have occurred and brought me to what I politely
call "the current state." After all, when those accumulated years
require the placement of a number with (to my thinking) the heft
of a 29 in front of them to be described, and there is (again,
to my thinking) so little to show in the way of accomplishment
for so great a span of time, well, a fellow can't help but begin
to wonder "how?" or, more to the point, "why?" These recent thoughts
of mine dovetail nicely with one of the themes in Laurence Sterne's
Tristram Shandy: the randomness of life. Although an acceptance
of the randomness of life may seem somewhat frightening at first,
with all it portends for the futility of human planning. I think
the opposite case is more frightening still. Personally I would
hate to think that the sequence of events that have led me to
the current state have happened by design. That, trust me, is
the truly frightening thought.
Sterne highlights the theme of
the randomness of life by exposing the ridiculous extent to which
events can be linked by cause and effect. For example, the flattening
of Tristram's nose can be traced back in an almost straight line
from the end of Dr. Slop's forceps to the marriage articles between
Mr. and Mrs. Shandy. The articles stated that Mrs. Shandy should
be permitted, when pregnant, to lay in (if she chose) in London.
This right, however, would become void if she should cause Mr.
Shandy to go to the expense of a journey to London without her
being pregnant. Unfortunately she takes such a trip and, as a
result, is obliged to lay in at home during her pregnancy with
Tristram. When her time comes, Dr. Slop is called in and, consequently,
Tristram's nose becomes caught in the doctor's forceps and is
Tristram, therefore, sees the weight
of the marriage articles as falling directly upon him. This judgment
may appear absurd as the connection between the articles and the
nose is somewhat tenuous, but I can understand it. My very existence
can be traced to a no less tenuous circumstance. It seems my parents
met during the summer at the beach. What if it had rained that
day? What If my father had gone to another beach? It would seem
that my presence on the planet can be accounted for by the lack
of rain on a summer day some thirty-odd years ago and on the result
of a debate among my father's friends on the relative merits of
Coney Island and Riis Park.
Before I let the topic of noses
get away, I would like to say something on the subject. I have
a bump on my nose. I suppose I noticed it as long as 10 years
ago although it is only in the past five years or so that I have
become truly conscious of its existence. My father has recently
taken an interest and has asked me what object did I walk into
or have fall upon the bridge of my nose to account for the presence
of so pronounced a bump. When I confess that I do not remember
any incident which could possibly account for the bump, I usually
follow it up with the query, "But Dad, tell the truth, wasn't
it (the bump) always there?" His response never wavers, "No. no.
When you were a child you had a beautiful, straight nosežare you
sure you didn't hit something?"
One may wonder what the point of
all this is and, to be honest, I am not sure. Except for this:
Tristram seems to believe that the poor quality of his nose has
had a negative impact on his life and I am not sure that he is
far off the mark. For although I cannot pinpoint in history the
moment in which my nose acquired its present dimensions (like
Tristram can), I do know that it is something that I have only
noticed within the past 10 years; that is, roughly since my graduation
from high school. Since it is these past 10 years with which I
am less than enamored and since I did have a relatively pleasant
childhood, I cannot rule out the possibility that the shape of
one's nose does indeed have a direct bearing on the quality of
Another example of the randomness
of life in Tristram Shandy is the manner in which Tristram
acquires his name. Through a combination of the faulty memory
of Susannah, the difficulty of some buttonholes on Mr. Shandy's
breeches and the obstinate insistence of a curate (who just happens
to be named Tristram himself), the name is bestowed and made permanent.
I have not bothered to hide my dissatisfaction with the position
in life with which I find myself currently confronted and so I
shall address that presently.
Why is it that my contemporaries
are marching forward in the world clutching their degrees ("with
all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto") while I, on
the cusp of 30years of age, am still an undergraduate? The reason
is no more complicated than this: I did not want to be an accountant.
Since it will not require an excessive I.Q. on the part of the
reader to understand the logic inherent in the reason I have given,I
shall move along.
I am not completely dissatisfied
with my life. One of the happiest moments of the past ten years
was my marriage some two and one-half years ago. Yet when you
read of how trivial an occurrence it was that has accounted for
this happiness you will surely shudder. It was in ninth grade
biology that our teacher threw out for our consideration a statistic,
namely this: that the vast majority of us would eventually marry
people who lived within a five mile radius of us. My friend Donald,
next to whom I sat, and I exchanged looks of a highly dubious
cast being, as we were, not entirely unacquainted with the sort
of girls who lived within a five mile radius. But to get on with
My wife and I grew up in the same
town and, though aware of each other's existence, were not friends
until our senior year in high school and then for no other reason
than this: I changed the route I took when walking home from school.
After years of walking along Main Street to Smith Avenue and then
down Smith to our house on the corner of Maple Street, I changed
my routine to taking the earlier turn on Ocean Avenue, taking
Ocean down to Maple and then walking along Maple to Smith Avenue
and home. My wife walked home via Ocean and, without belaboring
it, we began walking together, became friends, were dating two
years later and were married over two years ago. So you see, the
foundation of my marriage (and happiness) rests on no more than
a desire for a change of scenery some 12 years ago. By the way,
Donald also married a girl from home. In fact, our weddings were
a mere two weeks apart!
There is one question that is not
adequately addressed in Tristram Shandy and that is whether
or not Tristram would change, if he could, anything in the past.
Although I am not entirely pleased with where I am currently,
I would have to answer that question with a "no." Life is, to
a large extent, random. Were I to change some past event there
is no telling what unwanted consequences it might have on subsequent
events and thus on my life as a whole. Since I would not risk
the loss of many happy times and good friends to the vagaries
of cause and effect, I must conclude that for all its (however
unpleasant) randomness, my life up to now has turned out rather
LOVE, FLIGHT AND PRINCIPLES
For me reading Jane Eyre
was no mere intellectual exercise; it was an experience which
served to reflect a mirror-image of what I am. Jane's rainbows
and cobwebs are mine; we are one. I think that she would be as
engrossed in reading an account of my life as I was in reading
hers. I see her reading Linda Levy on a stormy night, covers
up to her chin, with candlelight flickering and wind whistling
across the heath. I read hers tucked into bed, as wind rattled
the windows and bellowed through the caverns of Trump Village.
Every page of Jane Eyre seemed to uncover another similarity between
us. One passage was particularly meaningful to me because I found
it to be a melding of several characteristics:
No reflection was to be allowed now; not one glance
was to be cast back; not even one forward. Not one thought was
to be given either to the past or future. The first was a page
so heavenly sweet--so deadly sad--that to read one line of it
would dissolve my courage and break down my energy (p. 323).
Here we see Jane as romantic, moral, passionate, vulnerable and
My past grinds at my guts, but I
realize now that I couldn't have done otherwisee taking into account
my romantic and moral inclinations, my passions, my vulnerability
and high principles. Jane was tormented by her choices for the same
reasons. Jacques Brel said, "Perhaps we feel too much and maybe
that's the crime, perhaps we pray too much and there isn't any shrine..."
But that's cynical, and defensive and incurable romantics like Jane
and me would argue vehemently with Mr. Brel's lyric. To me (and
probably to Jane) without passion and the Quest, life is a living
death; without the willingness to do, to try and perhaps, to fail,
we are automatons.
Philosophers and psychologists tell
us that we do what we do because of what we are. As kindred spirits,
Jane and I would find ourselves in emotional and ethical quandaries
and flight would be the only choice. It is a flight fueled by principles.
Flight was Jane's only alternative
when St. John Rivers proposed. He didn't seek marriage on the basis
of love, but as a device to woo her into becoming a fellow-missionary.
She was appalled by this bloodless, lifeless request. She could
envision going with him, single, as a co-worker, but St. John felt
that marriage was a `must' for propriety's sake and could not be
moved on this point. Jane found it necessary to run from St. John,
a man of reason, and track down Mr. Rochester, a man of passion.
I, too, had to run. I was married
to a man I didn't love or respect. My husband was cold and rational,
I was the antithesis. My reason for marrying wasn't greed, but my
insecurity, a negative self-image and a desire to please him and
my parents. As I grew stronger in myself, I couldn't tolerate the
marriage any longer. I was selling out on my dreams if I continued
to live with a man for whom I felt no romantic love, a man who in
no way lived up to my 'ideal.' I gave up many things: comfort, security,
the worship of my husband (in his cold, self-contained way) and
set out to seek my fortune. At my side was my two-year old child.
I was guided by my determination and my newly-acquired principles
of respect and self love.
Very such in love with Mr. Rochester,
Jane accepted sadism, neglect, sarcasm and almost anything he chose
to inflict because she was insecure, previously unloved, unworldly
and romantic. Even when there was a mutuality of feeling, the relationship
was unequal. Growth was needed on both sides. She ran away from
Thornfield because she discovered, on the day of her wedding, that
Mr. Rochester was already married. She acted quickly, took nothing
with her and was willing to endure any hardship to resist temptation.
Jane was very moral and very romantic. The quality of her
love would be altered, sullied if she remained. In flight her principles
overshadowed her passions.
During my odyssey, my romantic experiences
paralleled Jane's. I encountered the `White Knight' and he was everything
to me that Rochester was to Jane; but he was more sensitive, less
abusive. He loved me; I worshipped him. He was music, poetry, light,
air. I couldn't get enough of him. I wanted more, then I wanted
forever. He could have complied; he was a man motivated by
love and principles. His principles weren't nine and we eventually
clashed over them. For him, being the step-father of an autistic
child would require too much energy and provide too little reward.
He wanted an unencumbered wife who could provide his with a child
of his own and he wanted to seek his `ideal' while continuing with
me (as a cushion against the pain of separation, I suppose). I was
as appalled as Jane was when Mr. Rochester asked her to be his mistress.
How could this man, my 'White Knight,' who claimed to love me totally
and wholeheartedly, turn his back on Forever? Doesn't a lover accept
everything climb--the highest mountain, etc.?
Devastated and outraged, I had to
run, to hide, to seek safety and oblivion both. I had to insulate
myself from blinding, excruciating pain. My love was being trampled,
made ugly. The running away was mental: I withdrew from life, friends,
works and, especially, love; I contemplated suicide. The pain, emptiness
and feeling of betrayal were as real as the emotions that took Jane
on her journey through the moors. Still, I had to end the relationship,
regardless of the consequences. In the final analysis, I made the
only decision I could abide. In Jane's flight as in mine, we were
tempted to remain. If we weren't, there'd be no urgency.
Though we were sorely tempted to
stay and savor the wine, we feared that the vintage would soon turn
to vinegar. Flight, for us, was the only option. Compromise on love
is unacceptable--for love is the sum of who we are, what we give
and what we get in return and can only endure in its highest, purest
form: a love based on mutuality, self-respect, sacrifice, equality,
direction and growth. I couldn't have done otherwisežnor could Jane
PERSONAL RESPONSE TO EMILY DICKINSON'S POETRY
Emily Dickinson has always been
one of my favorite poets. I love her poems because of the pain
and sorrow they contain to which I can easily relate. She often
writes of funerals and death. I myself have watched too many friends
die and have wondered why God would let this happen. At every
funeral, some well meaning mourner would say--,"The Lord called
him" or "She's with Jesus now." My gut reaction was always, "Bullshit."
Then Emily Dickinson's poem "My Life Closed Twice Before its Close"
would come to mind, especially the last two lines--,"Parting is
all we know of Heaven and all we need of hell." More than anything
I've ever heard those lines summarize the doubts I've had about
an afterlife and the pain of those left behind.
My friend Molly Moynahan, recently
wrote a novel and titled it Parting is all We Know of Heaven.
The book opens with Dickinson's poem in its entirety. It is the
story of a young woman whose life is destroyed by grief following
her sister's death. I too have been at the point where grief combined
with my own stupidity (drugs and alcohol) almost destroyed my
My best friend since childhood
killed herself by eating 56 valium pills. Her suicide note said
that she was too ashamed of herself to face her family anymore.
Her parents didn't even bother to come to her funeral. We had
to take up a collection in the bar to bury her. Two weeks later
another good friend choked to death on his own vomit. His three
year old daughter found him the next morning. I was overwhelmed
with guilt when I realized I had been drinking with him the night
before. To this day when I see his wife and children at the supermarket,
I can't look them in the face. Within the next two months I lost
three other friends to a drunk driving accident and one to AIDS.
In my stupidity, I didn't think
to question the kind of lives my friends and I were leading; instead
I dove deeper into the world of cocaine to make myself feel better
and to hide from the reality of the death that was all around
me. However, it wasn't only me. Every time one of my friends would
die, the whole crowd of us would greatly increase our drug and
alcohol intake. This would inevitably lead to the death of another
one of us and so the cycle continued.
None of us believed in heaven,
but we all knew the private hell of being left behind on this
earth to suffer. The dead were at least at peace in their little
cushioned boxes. The rest of us had to keep living and wondering
who would be next. I believe in hell on earth and during the last
two and a half years that I have been straight, I've come to appreciate
this even more.
I don't keep the same friends that
I used to. I can't if I want to remain sane, but I often see members
of my old crowd around the neighborhood and in the bar on dart
night. I see them sitting in front of the post office drinking
beers when they should be working or going to school or taking
care of their children. I see them coming home when I leave my
house in the morning. I see them coming out of the bathroom in
the bar with cocaine still clinging to their nostrils and I wonder
who will be next.
There was another death a week
ago Sunday--a heart attack caused by an overdose of cocaine. A
twenty-eight year old woman should not die of a heart attack.
Heart attacks are for old men. I didn't go to the funeral. I was
afraid that I might have turned into one of those "She's with
Jesus" people, and I know that that is probably one of the least
comforting things one can say to a grieving husband and children.
I also felt that I didn't deserve to be among the mourners. They
were all mourning for themselves as well as for Michelle. In the
back of each of their minds, they were all wondering if they would
One day we discussed in class the
tradition among New England Puritans of looking in the face of
the dead and reading their emotions to determine whether or not
they were going to heaven. I've thought about this a lot since
I've found God and I hope that it isn't true. Everyone I've known
has died a horrible death. They were all cut down in the prime
of their lives--face down in their own vomit, on the cold, dirty
floor of a bathroom, decapitated in a car wreck, in a crowded
AIDS ward in a city hospital. None of them had a chance to make
their peace with God or with themselves for that matter. I'm sure
none of them died looking content or peaceful but terrified and
at best surprised. Therefore I would like to believe that hell
is all that has gone on here in this life and that after the parting
there is a heaven where those who suffered on earth are given
a second chance.
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