philosophy

A Man Named John


A Man Named John

There is a man named John. He was born and raised to be good. He believes that if he is a good person when he dies he will enter heaven. So while here on earth he prepares for death. The result is John lives a simple life. His home is simple. His occupation is not one many would find out of the ordinary. Yet John spends much of his time quietly bettering himself. In short, John is a good man.

It has been a long process. And John knows that his time is coming to an end. He also knows well that the end of his life is not in his own hands. He tells himself again and again “all one can do is prepare.” And prepare is what John has done since birth: He spent his youth lassoing his passions, his middle years harnessing his ego and pride, and his later years in private reflection upon the afterlife—an afterlife in which he hopes and prays he will be permitted to share. But it is his recent days that have been the most difficult. He battles to stop himself from thinking that he has been good and is one of the few who deserves to enter paradise. So each morning, before he rises and meets the day, John prays in bed. He prays in these final days, the days that matter most, for humility. He asks God for nothing but to remain within His glorious will.

Morning after morning John continues to pray. With each day he senses that his preparation is coming closer to an end. He feels his body slipping away and his spirit being freed. He senses he is on the verge of being born into salvation.

One morning as John is praying in bed the door is thrust open. A man and a woman walk into the room. The woman immediately applies a large metal clamp to John’s head. She holds John in place while the man begins to rip John’s body apart. Piece by piece, limb by limb, the man cuts away. The man and woman chat about their weekends as if John were never alive. Piece by piece John is pulled apart. Oblivious to John’s screams, indifferent to his fear, ignorant of his pain, in denial of his life, the man continues to tear away, as if John never breathed nor was ever born—as if dismantling an unwanted couch that won’t fit through the door.

Now what if I told you that John was never born, never lived, never prepared for the afterlife, never ripped into pieces and pulled from his bed. What if I told you that instead of being born John was conceived, instead of living he developed, instead of preparing for the afterlife he prepared for this life? What if I told you that instead of being ripped into pieces and pulled from his bed he was ripped into pieces and torn from the womb?

 

—Howard Hain

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