Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Three kinds of death and implications
The following paragraph is a reflection on what went through my mind recently, on the different kinds of death and implications after being exposed to sociology of religion, Augustine's Confessions and Immanuel Kant.
There are three kinds of death that I am aware of so far.
1) Physical death- the heart stops beating and the brain stops functioning and is certified by medical practitioner. This death is usually honored by a social ritual known as funeral to signify the transition of the immediate family members and friends.
2) Spiritual death- known only to the Christians. It is also understood as a separation from God. Some believed that this death is permanent if it is not rectified in this life (I am stating an observation).
3) Social death (this is my theory)- the fading memory of a human being from the society or social circle. This can happen in one's lifetime and can take place frequently. When one ceases to be part of the former social circle, the memory of the person slowly fades away unless he/she returns to renew the ties and memories. This is why one should meet up or keep in touch regularly with the former social circle if one wants to preserve his memory in that circle regularly.
3.1 There are cases when one could be physically dead, but because of his contributions to the society, like Confucius, his memory is kept alive. So, in a sense, he is still alive, but in our memory.
3.2 There are cases when one could be physically alive, but his presence is consciously being erased away from the memory of the society or social circle, such as a social outcast or exiled prisoners. That's why it is very painful to live as an outcast, because one is treated as non-existent.
3.3 There are cases in history the transcendent God is dead- when the memory of the transcendent God is consciously/unconsciously being eroded away in the society. That's why Nietzsche who noticed that unconscious erosion could exclaim that "God is dead!" The moment one stopped worshiping the deity, the memory of that deity will slowly fade away. That's why in the 1st commandment of the Protestants' Ten Commandment (which is slightly different from the Jewish Ten Commandment), God said:"Thou shall have not other god." We are commanded to erase the presence of other possible deities from our memory. In the era of the Enlightenment, the commandment issued from the realm of science and culture took the form of "Thou shall have no transcendent God."
So, am I dead? Not physically, not spiritually, but I can feel my memory slowly fading away from my former social circles (which is normal as one transits to another social circle). But there's one thing which I must keep alive: the memory of the transcendental God. And this means staying in a social group that honors His existence and continues to re-live and enact His presence in our daily lives. That's why one needs a fellowship and a congregation to sustain and to broaden the scope of one's identity in this world (this implies that one must be part of a congregation and be in regular fellowship).
That's all. I will reflect more from sociological perspective after all my papers and German translation exam.