Bizarro is brought to you today by the Miracle Messiah Tree of Jacksonville, Florida.
When I was a tiny, oppressed, terrified Catholic School boy I began wondering about the afterlife and its myriad possibilities. Like most children of religious families, my own indoctrination was confusing: on the the one hand we were told that only our "soul" goes to heaven and our earthly body returns to dust, but all of the drawings we were asked to color in Sunday School, paintings in the Vatican, and stained glass windows in the church had people who looked like they did in life.
Then there is Hell, where everyone is all tortured and burning for eternity while their skin melts and peels and falls off, only to melt and peel and fall off again every second of every day for eternity. The burning and melting isn't enough pain for someone raised in the wrong culture (non-Christian), of course, so hideous creatures jab them with pointy sticks, too. What good would any of that deliciously sadistic torment be if you didn't have your body? Ever try to set a soul on fire and poke it with a stick? Good luck.
And if you do spend eternity with your body, wouldn't it be better to die young? Who wants to be bald, fat, tired and achy for eternity? I'd much rather have the body I had at 25. Listening to my grandparents complain about their health in their golden years led me and a handful of my more philosophical schoolmates to form a suicide cult in the second grade. We would have pulled it off, too, until one of us with a big brother told us how cool pubic hair was and we all decided to wait until at least then.
If, however, we are without our bodies and are pure "soul," how will we recognize each other? When people have the fabled "near death experience" that is becoming so popular these days, they always report having seen their dead relatives. (Which would be enough to scare me back to life, too.) Are these avatars that the "souls" have conjured up so you'll recognize them, or is Nana stuck with that deflated parade-balloon body and thin hair that she had when she died? Doesn't sound like there is much bliss in her eternity. I'm sure she'd much rather be the babe that attracted Gramps when he returned from WWII.
The nicest thing about this game is that you can change the rules as you go, make it whatever you want. It is comforting to believe you're going to a better place when you die and there are as of yet no images or reports from the other side, so make it what you want it to be.
Personally, I'm hoping for oblivion, the same experience I had before I was born. I get bored easily and can't imagine doing anything for eternity. As Mark Twain supposedly said when asked how he could face eternity as an atheist, "I was dead for billions of years before I was born and it didn't inconvenience me in the least."