Death. You’re thinking about it; so am I. How to stave it off, how not to die of a painful and/or debilitating illness and, most of all, how not to perish in a disaster, whether that disaster is of human or divine origin.
Surely, you can see the contradiction in that. We exercise, eat right, don’t smoke/quit smoking, use anti-aging potions and have work done to try to look good and keep our old age comfortable, but if we’re going to die young in some large- or small-scale disaster, we don’t have to worry about any of that anyway. Yet, we view dying young as incredibly tragic. So do you want to die old and crochety or young and beautiful? You can't have both, sorry.
The thing is this: we really don’t want to die at all. We want to keep doing what ever it is that is detrimental to our health with no consequences and we want no car crashes, terrorist attacks, hurricanes, or wars to interfere with that. And on top of that, we want to stay young-looking and beautiful forever, like Tolkien’s elves.
And that is why the wailing and the gnashing of the teeth will continue about both 9/11 and Katrina, beyond all appropriate bounds.
On a certain level, it's puzzling, even amusing, all our efforts to put off the inevitable. But, yes, I’m still not smoking, will be in the gym tomorrow and am stepping up disaster preparedness around here. However, my body will still cease to function at some point and I accept that.
But what of us who believe in life beyond the grave, who believe that Jesus is the Savior of mankind? What is there to fear? By definition, nothing.
So, to acknowledge that I don’t fear that which can kill the body, and to acknowledge before men and women that I accept Jesus Christ as Savior, I’m getting baptized today, September 11, 2005.
My pastor said that today would be a good day for baptism: "a good day to stick a finger in the eye of the devil." I prefer to think of it as a good day to give the devil--and death--the finger (just in case you thought I was becoming too holy).
UPDATE 5:30 PM PDT: Ah, you guys made me tear up! :-) Thank you.