Fun is in Da House!! And so are you.
You might be wondering how I’m fixing to follow my last melancholy post with yet another dose of scheduled stupidity while retaining some sense of continuity. Fear not, my understandably skeptical friends. I’m confident that I can radically change my tone while further exploring similar subject matter. I can be quite versatile that way.
More than once whilst in the throes of morbid self-pity, I’ve imagined myself poised to perform a final act of melodramatic pathos only to be distracted by the nagging voices of my parents reminding me of the Catholic concept of Purgatory. Here’s how Catholic.com defines this vague afterlife interim of penance: The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified”. It notes that “this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned”. The purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27) and, while we may die with our mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, specifically venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.
Let’s ignore for a moment the stupefyingly contradictory nonsense of that last line alleging that we must suffer “temporal punishment” (what??) for sins “already forgiven”. Like any authors of moralist cosmologies, the scribes behind the Catechism are willing to employ considerable mental gymnastics to imbue the universe with our human proclivities for guilt and retribution. But Purgatory — Dante’s beloved cosmic waiting room with back issues of Redbook and Car & Driver strewn about the dusty end tables — strikes me as having more in common with a belief in reincarnation than initially meets the eye. What if all of us already have pulled that trigger (or stepped in front of that bus or ate that gas station burrito) only to find ourselves right back where we were before the performance of that not-so-fateful act experiencing an afterlife that is disappointingly identical to the life we were trying to abandon? In other words, this is it. Escape, even that which we imagine will accompany the deaths of our physical bodies, is an illusion. Perhaps heaven and hell are just dangled before us like a carrot and a stick to keep us feeling like there is hope and purpose while we go on and on and on being exactly who we’ve always been ad infinitum. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, Curmudgeon without end. Amen.
Were this to be true, it’s still not a reason to despair. The implication of my little theory presented above is that we are none-the-wiser every time we die and then immediately pick right up where we left off. And if this still sounds like a drag, just think about all of those confused babies who find themselves floating around in some nondescript region called Limbo because their damn parents were too confidently cosmopolitan to deign get their offspring to a baptismal fount? Speechless, spastic babies just drifting aimlessly through space, drooling and bumping into one another like colicky billiard balls. Now don’t you feel ashamed for having found your comparatively stimulating lot in life and death so unfair?
Depressing waiting rooms and floating babies. It took many learned men a very long time to perfect this hilariously moronic metaphysical farce and their hard work paid off because its influence remains as strong as ever in the 21st century.
Here’s the upshot of what I’m trying to get at here: everything is funny, without exception, whether you feel like you’re in on the joke or not. Those who insist that misery is a virtue are nothing more than unwitting comedians (what they call “straight men” in the biz). In just a moment, I’ll let the brilliant Patton Oswalt further expand on this theme but in the meantime, I will leave those who are still unconvinced of the value of living with what ought to be reason enough to keep fighting the good fight — there are dogs here:
Take it away, Patton: