By ARCH STANTON and ‘SAKI’
Edited by Lasha Darkmoon
Consisting of comments made by two talented writers with a special interest in the philosophy of religion, Arch Stanton and ‘Saki’. This discussion arose in response to a poem written by the great Victorian poet Christina Rossetti who spent much of her life longing for heaven. Readers are invited to share with us their experiences of the afterlife, if they have had any, or if they know someone else who claims to have had contact with the dead.
“If the sun and moon should ever doubt,
they’d immediately go out.” — William Blake
SAKI: Christina Rossetti is arguably the best female poet ever. She is certainly among the the most mystical poets writing in the English language, utterly steeped in Christian mysticism and drawing heavily on Plato and Dante as her main influences.
The exquisite poem above (see here with accompanying video) touches on the universal themes of love and death, the two themes that interested Christina most, and which form the basis of the best lyrical poems in the English language.
Christina fell passionately in love like other women, but rejected all her suitors on religious grounds. She remained a reclusive spinster all her life, living under the shadow of her elder brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, founder of the pre-Raphaelite art movement and himself a brilliant poet as well as painter. The portrait of Christina which you see here was painted by her talented brother.
ARCH STANTON (a gifted American writer and political dissident) : One of the most chillingly sad poems I have read. I cannot decide if I am chilled, sad or both. We have a tendency to either forget, or ignore, the fact that all things pass away, making this life one of illusion. It is the youthful delusion of immortality that makes the world the way it is. If man had the image of death constantly visible by his side from birth, the world would be a much different place. Thus, I have long surrounded myself with images of death, lest I forget the outcome of my journey here.
SAKI (to Arch Stanton) : I respect you as a person and enjoy reading your brilliant comments, but please note the following points:
There’s no proof that there’s NO AFTERLIFE, as you glibly assume, so it is NOT a “youthful delusion” to believe in immortality. How can you prove there’s no afterlife since you would first need to die to find out? And if you were right about death being the final chapter, how could you ever enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you were right?
ARCH STANTON: My Dear Saki, you misunderstand my comment and have made mistaken assumptions about my character. My reference to the youthful delusion of immortality refers to the belief we all have in our youth that we are invincible, that “it will never happen to me.” Young males are especially afflicted with this idea, one that invariably remains until they are either involved in combat or some other truly life threatening experience where they are confronted with death, or old age finally confronts them with their frail mortality. Until that point, death is something that happens to someone else.
SAKI: Christina Rossetti was no deluded youngster when she longed for heaven, a heaven she believed in passionately all her life. She died at the age of 64 still longing for heaven, preferring it to life on earth. You are really in no position to assume that your skepticism — no god, no afterlife — is a proven fact. A scientific fact. It is simply an opinion, a doubt rooted in existential angst which is a product of your personal psychology.
ARCH STANTON: You make the assumption that I hate. I do not. For example, I most certainly do not hate Jewish movies. There are good Hollywood movies and there are bad ones, with the bad far outweighing the good. The fact is, I even enjoy some of the bad Hollywood movies Jews make. What’s more, these movies provide valuable insight into the Jewish mind.
I am not anti-god, Saki. I am anti-religion.
SAKI: And you, Arch Stanton, assume falsely that those who believe fervently in God and in an afterlife have been brainwashed and indoctrinated by religion. Consider the possibility that YOU are the brainwashed one, indoctrinated by decades of liberal existentialism and Frankfurt School Cultural Marxism that is in the very air we breathe — as an “ideological pollutant”. A toxic influence we must do all we can to resist.
Every movie you see, produced by the Jews you have told us so often you hate, has helped to form your mind and character and inculcate the godless values of the Jews you despise. Only, dear Arch, you are unable to see this! That it’s YOU who are a victim of the age’s promoted godlessness and existential despair. Not the people who believe in higher things because they have experienced them personally in mystical experiences called “epiphanies”, i.e. in “born-again” experiences such as form the basic of William James’ great classic, “The Varieties of Religious experience”.
ARCH STANTON: The Sufis say, “God is closer than your jugular”. It’s the priest that do not want you to find that out.
LASHA DARKMOON: (commenting aside) : No, it is Allah himself who says this in the Qur’an, and the Sufis simply agree with him. (Qur’an 50:16). So how can the “priest”, as you state, be trying to prevent you from finding this out if Allah himself has told you this in the Qur’an through his prophet Mohammed? (Qur’an 50:16).
The Persian mystical poet Rumi, another “priest” of Islam, is repeating in different words what Allah says in the Qur’an: “I am nearer to you than yourself to yourself. (See here). So it’s false to state that “priests” are deliberately falsifying great religious truths. Bad priests, yes, but not good ones. Remember the sheep have good shepherds as well as bad ones.
God bless you! 🙂
ARCH STANTON: When it comes to “god,” I eschew the term. “God” for me is a Jewish god, a wrathful, judgmental, murderously vindictive parental figure that rewards one when one is good and punishes one when one is bad. How childishly absurd to think the intelligence behind the universal design and creation would be a figure that small in stature!
SAKI: It may interest you to know, dear Arch, that the greatest minds of the ages—scientists, philosophers, musicians, mathematicians—have believed strongly in God and in an afterlife, based on PERSONAL EPIPHANIES (mystical experiences) or CONTACT with the divine or the paranormal. The co-founder of the Theory of Evolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, believed strongly in a Designer God. His special brand of Darwinism is known as “teleological Darwinism”, i.e., that a Designer God made the universe and did so with a set PURPOSE. He called this Designer God the “Higher Intelligence”. Read this:
Wallace’s ‘Higher Intelligence’ was not the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator/Saviour God of the Bible, but some unidentified and unspecified ‘superior intelligence/power’. Wallace had become involved with spiritism and believed that departed souls could communicate through mediums with people living on Earth. In later life he ardently attended séances, where he believed he received messages from dead relatives.”
ARCH STANTON: You must have missed my many comments concerning the “Beloved,” intelligent design and the Sufis.
As I have written previously, if you are looking for proof of intelligent design, all you have to do is walk out of your front door and take a look at the intelligent life surrounding you.
As for the after life . . . There are countless stories throughout history, throughout all cultures, about the continual return to this life. I myself have experienced dim memories of my past existence that served to explain, and resolve, a number of mysteries in this life. I do not believe in an afterlife. In fact I do not believe anything. I simply have no faith in belief. Instead, I examine the evidence and shave daily with Occam’s razor.
The idea of a repeated return to this life to work out one’s “karma” was never something I wanted to discover. In fact, I set out to find the opposite and was horrified by what I found. The information changed my life’s path. Now I’m Br’er Rabbit, not relishing the thought of actually returning to this briar patch.
I am frequently amazed at how I misrepresent myself.
As for personal epiphanies, you should have been there when I had lunch with Jesus, where he said to me, “Arch old boy, I want you to tell the real story of my life and my mission. I want you to sweep away the cobwebs of magic and mysticism that religion has woven around my life. No one will listen and no one will believe it, but I want you to tell it anyway and let the chips fall where they may.”
I stared in disbelief, asking, “Why me, Jesus? I’m nobody, I am nothing. I have no authority, no degrees or qualification that might bolster such a story. No one will listen to a nobody like me! I never cared about you or the religion they named after your assigned title. In fact I never really believed in you at all.”
Jesus just smiled and replied:
“He that fails to believe in me shall not perish, but shall return repeatedly until he tells my story. Let’s just chalk it up to one of those “mysteries of God” which people are always talking about. you have been provided with all the talents required to tell my story. You have been given the information as well as the technical ability to write a publishable book. You are a wordsmith who has been given the gift of the written word, such as it is. And you sure didn’t have that talent until I came along. So get to work! I’ll call on you in few decades to see how you are coming along with my story. Vaya con Díos, Arch! By the way, watch out for the branches on that withered fig tree on your way out.
SAKI: Brilliant comment, dear Arch! I certainly misunderstood you. Go in peace, dear fellow traveller! and may you find solace and a safe inn at the end of your journey!
SISTER MONICA (moderator, to Arch Stanton) : An excellent comment, Arch. But why do you keep demanding proof for things that cannot be proved scientifically and that skeptics will always doubt. Those who have had mystical experiences and witnessed paranormal events (e.g., poltergeist phenomena, out-of-body experiences (OBE), and near-death experiences (NDE), have no difficulties believing in an afterlife.
LD: Sister, as you know, I have no problems believing in an afterlife, having experienced the miraculous and the supernatural more than once. My own mother was cured of an incurable disease instantaneously and she had psychic experiences that left me in no doubt that life continued after death in one form or other. My own experience of poltergeist phenomena has made me a witness to events for which there can be no rational explanation and which are completely beyond the laws of nature. The only defence the sceptic has against these bizarre narratives is all too predictable: “You are lying!”
The Doubters will always be with us. The blind need to step into the sea to know the sea is there.
SAKI: I’d be interested to know more about your mother’s incurable disease and its sudden miraculous cure. Also about your poltergeist experiences. Can you provide some more specific details?
LD: I’ve no wish to discuss my poltergeist experience here for two reasons. Firstly, it’s an isolated experience that occurred only recently and I haven’t had time to assess it and figure out its ramifications yet; secondly, no one is likely to believe me, as there were no witnesses to the event apart from myself. To believe in the paranormal you need to experience the paranormal yourself. Hearing about someone else’s experience at second hand is seldom convincing, especially if you don’t know the person involved.
As for my mother’s incurable disease and its miraculous cure, I’ve written about this at some length in an article about P.D. Ouspensky, the famous disciple of Gurdjieff. Scroll down to my comment here— the long passage in bold font beginning with my initials (LD). I hope this will suffice for the time being.
(A follow-up article by Lasha Darkmoon about the evidence for life after death will be published on this website next week. Ed.)