Living With The Mystery Of Our Death

How Our Beliefs On Death Shape Our Lives

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Living With The Mystery Of Our Death
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Living With The Mystery Of Our Death
WWL Karen's Story
WWL Danielle 1 Eric and Jane

Religious leaders get to oversee some of life’s happiest moments, but they’ve also seen enough death to last a lifetime.

They officiate funerals, bless graves, and provide comfort to those who are suffering loss.  So it makes sense that we expect them to have some kind of wisdom about death.  

But how do their experiences influence their views of their own mortality?

Today we’ll talk with philosopher Shelly Kagan and pastoral care professor Kristen Leslie about the mystery of death.  

We also have Episcopal priest and theologian Danielle Tumminio in the studio with us to share the stories of how two priests and a rabbi understand their own mortality.

Leave your comments below or email us at or tweet us @wherewelive



Valerio writes:

Is there life after death
I have asked myself this question my entire life.
However as time has gone by and considering the philosophical and scientific reasoning I now ask:
Is this life a reality or an illusion? Is reality something other that this life?

Gene posts on Facebook:

I look at it this way. No one knows what is one the other side or what happens and I am in no hurry to find it, concentrate on the here and now.

Jonathan posts on Facebook:

Think back to the time before you were born. That's what death is like.

Adam's Facebook post:

An uncomfortable subject, but thoughtfully debated as always. Related topic for a future show: people who are living who you wish were dead."

Helder tweets:

Amazing thought provoking discussion about “Death” today on @wherewelive. Thanks again crew. Great way to start the week.

Jeremy writes:

The best song on the subject is, "The Soul of a Man" by Blind Willie Johnson

Matt writes:

I think the foundation of this topic is fear of the unknown. In a hundred years there will be all new people discussing this same topic. We all have a need to justify our existence. Will be be rewarded for our choices, or will we be punished for what certain religious groups define as good or bad.

I honestly believe that Heaven exists within the hearts of all that we've touched throughout our lives. If we work towards making a difference with everyone we know, we can continue to live on through others. We can live on through others.

Sr. Mary Ellen Burns writes:

Another great program. Thanks.

I am a Roman Catholic Sister and when I heard the question, "Why do we human beings come up with fantastic versions of an after life; why can't we be satisfied with our 80 years of life here?" St. Augustine's famous quote came to mind: "You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." Our faith tradition teaches us that we are not made for 80 years only, but for eternity; death, though natural on this earth, is fundamentally contrary to our nature and our purpose.

A very different writer, not necessarily coming out of a religious tradition, spoke to this rebellion against the essential unacceptable incongruity of bodily death: Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Obviously this answer is wholly unsatisfactory for those with no belief in God, no belief in an afterlife.

Again, great discussion!

Matt writes:

I watched my 80 yo father die in my arms almost 2 years ago. I've lied in my bed at night haunted by his last moments of arching his back and moving his jaw. I'm not sure if he had last words he could not get out, or if he was scared. All I could do is rub his head and tell him that I'm there and that I love him.

I think the word "afterlife" is an oxymoron. I believe that having a good foundation of faith, and living ones life as a person of faith provides a better foundation for facing the unknown with greater comfort. At least I hope it does. Thanks for the chipper Monday morning thoughts. :)