4-2 [This I Believe radio essay submission] I believe that it’s important to choose your own beliefs. When it comes to spiritual endeavors, spoon-feeding and obedience are to be avoided. Religious questions are the big ones, and if you go to church to get the answers, you might short-circuit the ultimate human quest. But just because spirituality needs to be a free-style event – because there’s no need to accept any particular fiction as religion, that doesn’t mean that we should look for some form of truth to believe in. As Robert Duvall’s character in Secondhand Lions points out, sometimes those things that ain’t necessarily so are the ones that especially need to be believed. I choose to believe that when you die you come unstuck in time. Time ceases to be merely linear. A lifetime of experience becomes a single finite sequence of perception – it’s your only window on the world for all eternity. You can digest whatever you managed to gather while you were able to exercise free will – but you can’t go back for seconds. Some measure of wisdom is likely to be inherent in that first/last moment. Heaven and hell do exist, then – they’re just the same thing. It depends.
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