Book Review: Pocket Guide to the Afterlife

Pocket Guide to the Afterlife

Seriously, how could I possibly resist?

Sadly, I did find this in the humour section – and I objected very strenuously to the book store clerk – yes, I bought it in a bricks and mortar store, even though I put links to online book shopping sites.

Now, I am not totally endorsing on line instead of in store book buy – after all, on line is great for a lot of shopping, but I just prefer my book experience to be a sensual journey of touch and smell.

Sorry, drooled a moment there.

The Pocket Guide to the Afterlife – 91 Places Death Might Take You was written by Augusta Moore and Elizabeth Ripley.

The 91 religions are all in the tags – sorry, couldn’t do all the funky international symbols.

What struck me the most – well, right after all these religions being able to be condensed into 2 or 3 pages of a slightly larger than a pocket book – nice to have the high level overview and not bog down in details.

What struck me the most was that a lot more religions than I realized expect to reincarnate. Some you can come back as anything, any other animal, plant or rocks even. In others, you are human and human alone, and your journey is being different kinds of humans. In others, what and how you reincarnate depends on how you behaved now and in past lives.

But the goal of all the reincarnation, living lives and learning, is to get to oblivion.  And it seems to me that that is a lot of time and energy to get to a state, that on the balance, is pretty much were we go after death.

When you compare the religions that have clothing requirements, it’s almost like being a trend pimp in high school – plain clothes, over everything clothes, special hats, special hair styles – or no hair – and then there’s food.

Eat this, don’t eat that, you can eat that but not on magic days of the week.

eesh.

Worst of all there’s the constant having to achieve a behaviour code that basically is anything that our natural incline is bad – whether it really is bad or not.

As of the book’s publishing, there are only 4 Quakers left. Why? They don’t beleive in sex. At all. Ever. Not even missionary. Ever.

The other enlightening part is how many times religions have rolled into another. Vodoo and Vodun have both rolled into Catholicism by simply matching their plethora of spirits to the plethora of Saints that the CC has. And they do all match up.

It struck me too that Catholicism is not a monotheistic religion – you’ve got god, jesus and the holy ghost, who also combine a trinity – but then there’s Mary and all the saints who are also prayed to and worshiped. Pretty Pantheonic by any standard.

But, even it’s all read, compared and giggled over, there is one truth that rings loud and in a clear and unmistakeable tone.

The major function of religion is not to define us as groups of people, despite being largely geographically determined who’s in one versus another.

It’s not to to provide moral guidance through our lives, as, most of the requirements are nonsensical, impossible standards and make life rather joyless. (Seriously Quakers, you shoulda thought of that one). For most, the commandments and requirements are also about worship the deity and authority – there’s nothing moral about that – and in fact blind authority worship will result in a general worsening of society.

The theme that rings clear and loud is that religions are all designed to make people accept their lot in life – especially those in the poorer categories.

Oh, you have to work off your bad karma from your last life, oh you must learn the lesson of humility, harder for the rich to get into heaven so be glad you’re poor.

There is nothing noble about grinding poverty, nothing truthful about being working poor.

If rich people really beleive that being poor is the way to heaven, then why do they stay rich? I know politicians cost a lot, but if they really beleive, shouldn’t they be poor too?

The purpose of religion is to maintain the status quo, so the poor do not rise up and demand the equality we claim our society offers. So they do not share in the benefits of their labour in order to obtain education and bring themselves up the socio-economic ladder.

Especially all the ones who claim to be about Jesus – a guy who didn’t own a horse, wore long hair and sandals and hung out with 12 guys and never married.

Hmm, doesn’t sound like the Evangelical way of huge missions, universities, fleets of cars and planes, tv networks, theme parks with waterslides, expensive suits and, well, with all that money, they should be able to get better haircuts.

It’ exhausting.  If people sat down and read a book that provided just a short overview of what religions claim – their creation story, their god’s personality, the after death scenarios, you’d start to see that it’s all pretty random and a bit nutty.

I mean, as silly as a believer of one finds everyone else’s religion, so do they all find yours funny too.

So, why not enjoy them for the art works they inspired, as literature.

It’s not hard to be a good person – it’s the giving yourself persmission to be that good person.

It’s easy. Don’t kill except in defense of yourself or others.

Don’t assault or rape other people, especially children. You’d hope that this would be obvious, but it clearly isn’t to a lot of religions.

Don’t steal from people or businesses, it’s not yours until you pay for it.

Letting go of your gods will not turn you into a genocidal raping and pillaging crazed person, but there’s a lot of evidence that hanging onto a god will turn you into just that.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Pocket Guide to the Afterlife

    • While they historically had similar origins in England and rejected clergy and rituals, the were always separate groups with clear differentiating belief systems.

  1. Pingback: Activities to be obsessed with? | kitchen appliances

  2. Just a quick note: It’s actually Shakers, not Quakers you’re thinking of who don’t have sex. Quakers are a generally quite liberal, sometimes non-theistic or non-Christian religion. They’re one of the only two religiousy groups I’d ever even remotely consider attending.

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