Material on Judeo-Christian reincarnation?
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01-01-2013, 03:01 PM
Material on Judeo-Christian reincarnation?
My mother is a weak Christian who does not read the bible or go to church. She doesn't believe in evolution (despite not reading anything on the subject), yet she holds beliefs about the nature of existence that her more religious peers don't. She has recently become interested in the concept of reincarnation. This was brought on by the recent death of her father. Knowing that I know a good deal about religion, she has asked me to find her some information on reincarnation. I explained the Buddhist and Hindu concept to her--e.g., six realms of existence and how one's deeds dictate where they end up--but she is interested more in material dealing with reincarnation in the Judeo-Christian religion. I told her the most obvious example is Jesus since, according to the mythology, he is an incarnation of Yahweh. She would like some easy to read articles; she thinks the wikipedia article "jumps around too much." Does anyone know of any good articles on the subject?
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02-01-2013, 12:46 PM
RE: Material on Judeo-Christian reincarnation?
Send her to one of these charlatan mediums' shows so that she can communicate with her deceased father... I'm serious! She obviously wants him back, but talking common sense into her seems to be a mission impossible, so why not cater to her needs as best you can? It IS your mother.
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02-01-2013, 01:18 PM
RE: Material on Judeo-Christian reincarnation?
To my knowledge, there is no reincarnation in Judeo-Christian mythology. You seem to be a spirit in heaven before you're born; there is some biblical evidence of this. Then your spirit is put into your flesh, you live, you die, your spirit goes to your afterlife. You only get heaven or hell, there are no other choices for us mortals. We can't be resurrected or reincarnated. We get one body, once, until it dies, then that is it. We also don't get to linger around, haunting houses or possessing people. We die, we go to our just rewards/punishment, end of story.

That's difficult for some people to accept. Tough. I feel sympathy for her loss and more sympathy for her grasping at straws to cope with that loss. But she won't find those straws in Christianity. Or more accurately, the only straw she gets is the usual Christian one - now he's in a better place and one day she can be reunited there, in that place, when her heavenly father calls her home too.

If that's not good enough, then really, what will be good enough? Surely not reincarnation - that specifically means his spirit will be born into different flesh. If he's lucky, it will be human flesh, rather than rat or fish or meal worm; I guess it all depends on which reincarnation myth you want to favor. But no matter which one it is, how will it help your mom? So what if her father is running around the forest as a deer, or crying its infant eyes out in a neonatal ward in a hospital somewhere - she won't know who he is or where he is or even what he is, so how does it help her?

Unless she wants to go in hook, line, and sinker, go get herself a new little kitten and convince herself that her father was reborn as this kitten? Then she can have her cat and her dad too, all in one package. That's pretty loony; I know there are a few wackos out there who actually make such claims about their pets, but they are really, really deep in the minority and everyone pretty much scoffs at their craziness, even other believers in reincarnation.

Frankly, I am a firm believer that it's best to take the bull by the horns. Deal with the pain of loss head on rather than trying to grasp at silly straws to avoid the pain. In the short run, it's harder, but in the long run, it's saner.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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02-01-2013, 08:02 PM
RE: Material on Judeo-Christian reincarnation?
(02-01-2013 12:46 PM)Janus Wrote:  Send her to one of these charlatan mediums' shows so that she can communicate with her deceased father... I'm serious! She obviously wants him back, but talking common sense into her seems to be a mission impossible, so why not cater to her needs as best you can? It IS your mother.

I know she went to a fortune-teller a decade or so ago and was impressed with the supposed "accuracy" of what she was told (no doubt an example of cold reading). However, I'm sure my step dad--a fellow atheist--would put his foot down if she tried to do it in the near future. I personally would do the same thing because I think mediums should be put to death in the most painful manner possible.

(02-01-2013 01:18 PM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  To my knowledge, there is no reincarnation in Judeo-Christian mythology. You seem to be a spirit in heaven before you're born; there is some biblical evidence of this. Then your spirit is put into your flesh, you live, you die, your spirit goes to your afterlife. You only get heaven or hell, there are no other choices for us mortals. We can't be resurrected or reincarnated. We get one body, once, until it dies, then that is it. We also don't get to linger around, haunting houses or possessing people. We die, we go to our just rewards/punishment, end of story.

[...]

I’ve heard of the mythological hall of souls called the “guf” in the past. The Encyclopedia of Reincarnation and Karma (2010) has a good entry that explains why reincarnation would lessen the impact of Christ’s sacrifice. It totally contrasts with the Buddhist and Hindu concept because karmic retribution would mean a person could be punished for their negative behavior or actions instead of being able to repent. A separate entry mentions something called the “Lost Chord of Christianity,” a collection of supposed passages dealing with reincarnation that, according to some believers from at least the 19th-century onward, were excised from the bible by church leaders. There appears to be no historical basis for this.

I have to say that I found the rest of your post a bit frustrating, particularly the part suggesting my mother buy a kitten and fool herself into thinking it’s her father. She is an intelligent woman who has medical and administrative degrees. She would never be so distraught that she would delve into such madness. Her view on reincarnation greatly differs from the eastern philosophy because she thinks people reincarnate as people, not animals or in any of the other lower realms of being. I’m sure you meant no offense, it’s just your views are not hers. She is set in her ways. She knows that I am an atheist, and we both respect each others' right to believe or disbelieve whatever we want. Despite my own negative views on the subject, if her believing my grandfather reincarnated as a new person helps her with the mourning process, I see no problem with it. It doesn't effect her or my life in any detrimental way whatsoever.

My views on death are actually very similar to yours. I did not take my grandfather’s death as hard as my mother because I’m a realist who knows that all people die, and, most importantly, that it was best for him to die because he was very ill. I also think it's better to celebrate someone's life than to mourn their death. Crying or praying doesn't change the fact that the person is dead and that I won't ever see them again.

Having said all that, I'm still interested in any articles that my mother might like to read.
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03-01-2013, 01:32 AM
RE: Material on Judeo-Christian reincarnation?
(02-01-2013 08:02 PM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  I have to say that I found the rest of your post a bit frustrating, particularly the part suggesting my mother buy a kitten and fool herself into thinking it’s her father. She is an intelligent woman who has medical and administrative degrees. She would never be so distraught that she would delve into such madness. Her view on reincarnation greatly differs from the eastern philosophy because she thinks people reincarnate as people, not animals or in any of the other lower realms of being. I’m sure you meant no offense, it’s just your views are not hers. She is set in her ways. She knows that I am an atheist, and we both respect each others' right to believe or disbelieve whatever we want. Despite my own negative views on the subject, if her believing my grandfather reincarnated as a new person helps her with the mourning process, I see no problem with it. It doesn't effect her or my life in any detrimental way whatsoever.

I didn't mean to frustrate or insult. I wasn't suggesting that she should buy the kitten; I was worried that she might (I don't know her as well as you do).

Taking your word for it that she won't, then my question still stands - even if her father reincarnates "as a new person", what good does it do her? She will never meet him and if she does by some coincidence, she won't know it's him - it'll be a small child with no resemblance at all. So i don't see the appeal of reincarnation.

You're the one who said your mother is a weak Christian. That says to me that she's probably more likely to buy into the whole heaven idea than I am, or you are. So why doesn't that work for her?

All things considered, I would rather believe that my mother is up there in heaven watching over me, and that some day I'll be reunited with her, than believe she's been reincarnated into a child who would be about 8 years old right now, somewhere, maybe starving in Ethiopia, maybe burning furniture for heat in Nepal, or maybe happily enjoying her new Barbie Dream House and XBox games in her parents' luxury condo in Manhattan. Any way you slice it, reincarnation does much less for me than good old fashioned heaven, and I don't believe one iota of either one.

I'd love to give you what you want, but I'm not able to suggest any good, simple, or plausible books on reincarnation. I'm sorry you mistook my evaluation of the options as criticism of your mother whom I've never met - I was merely weighing the options in order of plausibility and usefulness and finding them all to be highly lacking as a comfort mechanism.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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03-01-2013, 02:30 AM
RE: Material on Judeo-Christian reincarnation?
I don't recall any reincarnation for normal humans in the Christian religion, I'm afraid.

Bury me with my guns on, so when I reach the other side - I can show him what it feels like to die.
Bury me with my guns on, so when I'm cast out of the sky, I can shoot the devil right between the eyes.
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03-01-2013, 06:05 AM
RE: Material on Judeo-Christian reincarnation?
(02-01-2013 08:02 PM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  
(02-01-2013 12:46 PM)Janus Wrote:  Send her to one of these charlatan mediums' shows so that she can communicate with her deceased father... I'm serious! She obviously wants him back, but talking common sense into her seems to be a mission impossible, so why not cater to her needs as best you can? It IS your mother.

I know she went to a fortune-teller a decade or so ago and was impressed with the supposed "accuracy" of what she was told (no doubt an example of cold reading). However, I'm sure my step dad--a fellow atheist--would put his foot down if she tried to do it in the near future. I personally would do the same thing because I think mediums should be put to death in the most painful manner possible.


I agree totally. But since, like it or not, they are going to be around anyway (unless you plan to personally strangle all of them them one by one) you might make use of their services as a placebo since you know common sense won't work on your mom anyway.
Just make sure she doesn't empty her purse in their coffers.
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09-01-2013, 07:21 PM
RE: Material on Judeo-Christian reincarnation?
(03-01-2013 01:32 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  I didn't mean to frustrate or insult. I wasn't suggesting that she should buy the kitten; I was worried that she might (I don't know her as well as you do).

Taking your word for it that she won't, then my question still stands - even if her father reincarnates "as a new person", what good does it do her? She will never meet him and if she does by some coincidence, she won't know it's him - it'll be a small child with no resemblance at all. So i don't see the appeal of reincarnation.

You're the one who said your mother is a weak Christian. That says to me that she's probably more likely to buy into the whole heaven idea than I am, or you are. So why doesn't that work for her?

All things considered, I would rather believe that my mother is up there in heaven watching over me, and that some day I'll be reunited with her, than believe she's been reincarnated into a child who would be about 8 years old right now, somewhere, maybe starving in Ethiopia, maybe burning furniture for heat in Nepal, or maybe happily enjoying her new Barbie Dream House and XBox games in her parents' luxury condo in Manhattan. Any way you slice it, reincarnation does much less for me than good old fashioned heaven, and I don't believe one iota of either one.

I'd love to give you what you want, but I'm not able to suggest any good, simple, or plausible books on reincarnation. I'm sorry you mistook my evaluation of the options as criticism of your mother whom I've never met - I was merely weighing the options in order of plausibility and usefulness and finding them all to be highly lacking as a comfort mechanism.

Sorry for the confusion. I know she definitely won’t be buying a kitten anytime soon because the last of our family cats died a year so ago at the age of 19. My parents claim they are done with having pets.

She has so much cognitive dissidence going on that it’s hard to get a read on her thought process. She told me that she first started to think about reincarnation when we were present for his passing. She supposedly felt a wave of energy (his soul, apparently) pass through her. My grandfather's early life was horrible and his death was not very pleasant, so I can only guess that my mother wants to believe that he has been reborn into a much happier life. I talked to her about how the idea of reincarnation and karmic retribution contrasts with traditional Christian teachings, but she still chooses to believe in it. However, this is no different than the many, many Christians who believe in myriad other things that don’t jive with the bible.

The last thing I wrote was more of generalized statement aimed at anyone with knowledge of said material who happened upon the thread.
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