Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Angry Lunatic Drivers (But I Mean that in a Nice Way)

Have you watched the news in recent years and said to yourself, “Wow, what a great time to be alive! Everything is so wonderful these days!”?

No, of course not. What you probably said was something like, “Our entire planet is losing its collective mind!”
Recently, a revelation struck me (or maybe it was a stray bullet), which brought everything into perspective. The reason things are so chaotic in our society nowadays is because there are only two types of people in the world: those who say, “Oops, sorry. Thanks for the heads-up,” while smiling and waving a hand; and those who say, “[Screw] you, dirt bag! You wanna piece of me?!” while scowling and waving a Glock.

Now, here’s the scenario that evoked those responses: you’re stopped at a red light, and you get a bit distracted by the scenery, or you’re changing the station on the car radio, or any one of 10,000 other things that divert the attention of motorists these days. (OK, let’s be honest: the number one motorist distraction nowadays is the ubiquitous smartphone.)

Anyway, when the light finally turns green, you don’t notice. After a few seconds, the driver in the car behind you beeps his horn. And that’s when you respond in either of the two ways described above. 

Not too many decades ago, the vast majority of citizens would’ve reacted the first way. They would’ve understood that their inattentiveness was holding up traffic, and therefore the only proper response would be to offer an embarrassed apology and start driving. Very few people back then would have responded the second way. And the reason very few people responded that way was simple: back then there were very few self-absorbed, angry lunatics roaming around society. 
If I had to guess, I’d say only about one-half of one-percent of the folks back in those days were self-absorbed, angry lunatics. This means if you honked your horn at someone who was day-dreaming at a traffic light, the odds were greater than 99-percent that the person would offer a sheepish wave and start driving.

Nowadays, based on my unscientific research (which consists of observing other drivers on Connecticut highways for multiple hours every week), I’d have to say that at least 30-percent of all drivers are self-absorbed, angry lunatics. 

Although still in the minority, going from a half-percent to 30-percent is quite significant. It’s kind of like going from one bee sting on your leg to 60 bee stings all over your body. The first is surprising and slightly annoying; the other makes you wonder if you’re about to die.

Years from now, when historians look back and try to figure out exactly why the United States collapsed into total chaos during the first half of the 21st century, all they’ll have to do is look at the way people behaved while driving. Driving behavior is a window on the soul of society. Based on what I observe everyday on I-91 and I-84, our society’s soul is quite ill. We are becoming a nation of self-absorbed, angry lunatics.
OK, now here’s the section of this essay where I explain how we got this way and offer a surefire solution to solve the problem. Um, yeah. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how we got into this predicament (other than to suspect the ubiquitous smartphone and social media are major factors), and I definitely don’t know how to rectify the situation (other than to encourage everyone in America to come to church with me on Sunday).

In the meantime, I suggest the next time the driver in front of you is distracted at a light, just wait it out quietly. Unless you have a bulletproof windshield.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Jesus and Politics

I find it very interesting that people from opposite sides of the political spectrum often claim Jesus as one of their own. For example, some folks insist that Jesus was a devoted follower of Karl Marx, and during His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared that progressive government bureaucrats should control every aspect of people’s lives, because only they know what’s best for everyone. 

On the other hand, different people insist that Jesus always votes Republican, and His favorite holiday is the Fourth of July, because it gives Him an opportunity to blow up stuff and fire His AR-15 into the air — while, of course, waving the Stars n’ Stripes from the back of His pickup truck. 

OK, so maybe I exaggerate a bit. But the point is, people with widely differing political opinions often cite the teachings of Jesus Christ to prove that their particular views are correct.

It’s been said that you can back up any point you’re trying to make by cherry-picking certain Bible verses – usually out of context. For example, over the years the Bible has been cited to argue that Communism is good, that slavery is acceptable, and that being a New York Yankees fan is wonderful. We know, of course, that all of these things are actually very bad.

I suspect the main reason people quote Jesus and the Bible so often to back up their political views is because the politicians – who may or may not have any religious faith personally – understand that a majority of citizens in this country still identify as Christian. (But as a recent Gallup poll discovered, the percentage has dropped significantly in the past decade.) So, in other words, the politicians are pandering to the electorate, telling them what they want to hear, and quoting a revered religious figure in the process.
The thing is, Jesus completely transcends politics. During the time He walked the earth, He was pulled in many directions by people who wanted to use His popularity for political ends. But Jesus ignored them all. This is because His mission was so much more important than mere politics. Jesus came to earth to re-establish the broken relationship between humankind and the Almighty Creator. He called people to repent and turn to God. The eternal fate of a person’s soul is so much more important than who wins a particular election.

This is not to say that politics are not important. A society needs to be organized with certain governing rules and regulations and policies. People of good will can sincerely argue that a particular political philosophy is best for society. (Although finding a person of good will among the current crop of politicians can be quite a challenge.)

Our brief time here on earth pales in comparison to eternity. Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of man. So, politics is a necessary evil in our world, but it’s not the most important thing in the world – something most people involved in politics would be stunned to hear.

Jesus transcended politics. If He suddenly appeared in the middle of a heated argument between a progressive Marxist with a nose ring and pink hair, and a flag-waving good ol’ boy with a MAGA hat, the Lord would probably declare, “You’re both wrong! Stop claiming Me as proof of your narrow-minded, self-centered views.” 
If a person truly follows Jesus, he or she will seem like a socialist at times. At other times, you’d swear the person was a fundamentalist Bible-thumping capitalist. There are aspects of each side of the political spectrum that Jesus would embrace. And there are many aspects from each side that Jesus would condemn. 

If we’re quoting the words of Jesus to try and score political points, we can be sure we’re doing it wrong. Everyone has a duty to be an engaged citizen in society, and this means being involved in the political process. But our true calling is to be a citizen of Heaven.

When we focus on Heaven, we’ll get the world as a bonus. If we focus only on the world, we will lose Heaven. Keep this in mind the next time someone quotes the Bible in an effort to push a political agenda. And be especially wary of those Yankees fans.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Resurrection is the Heart of Christianity

At Mass every week we recite the Nicene Creed, which summarizes the primary beliefs of the Christian faith. In the middle of the Creed we say this about Jesus: “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

If you ask me, this is the way we should say it at Mass: “...crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and ROSE AGAIN ON THE THIRD DAY!!” 
I’m not sure the priest celebrating Mass would approve if everyone shouted at the top of their lungs, but it would be appropriate considering how central the Resurrection is to our faith. If you think I exaggerate, then don’t take my word for it, listen to a friend of mine instead. He’s an old buddy, nicknamed “Paulie Motormouth,” and he had this to say about Jesus’ resurrection:

“How can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?…For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.” 

Yes, my pal Paulie is THAT Paul, the guy who wrote close to a dozen epistles in the New Testament. The quote above is from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15. And if St. Paul wrote something in the Bible, you can take it as gospel. (No wait, that old figure of speech, “take it as gospel,” is not appropriate here, since Paul didn’t write any of the gospels. Paul instead wrote New Testament epistles, and since they’re in the Bible, which is the inerrant Word of God, we believe they convey the truth, just like the gospels — er, I mean, except they’re not gospels. Oh, never mind.)

Anyway, the Resurrection of Jesus is the make-or-break doctrine of Christianity. If He really did rise from the dead, then we have hope for eternal life in Heaven. And if He did not really rise from the dead, then our faith is a hollow shell that offers no hope. If Jesus did not rise, then as Paul explained, Christians are “the most pitiable people of all.” 
If Jesus never rose from His grave, Christians are indeed pitiful because the whole point of our faith is to restore our broken relationship with our Creator, so we can spend eternity in His heavenly kingdom. But if even Jesus could not rise from the dead, what are the chances we will? That’s right: zero.

This undeniable fact of our faith makes me shake my head in amazement whenever I read about people who claim it’s possible to be a good Christian while NOT believing Jesus actually rose from the dead. Haven’t these folks been paying attention at all? 

For example, there is an institution in New York City called the Union Theological Seminary. It was founded in 1836, and its constitution stated the seminary’s goal was to “promote the Kingdom of Christ.” Professors were required to affirm they believed “the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God” and the “only infallible rule of faith and practice.” 

That was then. Today the seminary’s president is the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones. Here is a list of some of the things Dr. Jones does NOT believe in: the virgin birth, the power of prayer, miracles, and Jesus’ Resurrection. When asked what happens when people die, Dr. Jones responded, “I don’t know! There may be something, there may be nothing.”

Does anyone besides me think Dr. Jones might be in the wrong profession? I mean, I know many people who would agree with Dr. Jones’ beliefs. Those people are called atheists. But none of them, at least the ones I know, would claim to be an ordained Christian minister. And none of them would aspire to be the president of a seminary that supposedly trains people for Christian ministry.  

However, the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones is just one of countless people who claim to be Christian, and yet do not believe in the most important doctrine in all of Christian theology: the actual, physical, really-real Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If a person doesn’t believe in the Resurrection, as my friend Paulie Motormouth — er, I mean, St. Paul — said, that person’s faith can only be described as pitiful. 

Thank God the Resurrection did occur. Jesus really did rise from the grave, and in the process He conquered death once and for all. And most importantly, He promised that if we put our faith in Him, we can do the same thing.
It’s probably not a good idea if we all shout at Mass: “ROSE AGAIN ON THE THIRD DAY!!”

But wouldn’t it be nice if that’s exactly how we felt about it in our hearts? 

Oh No! He’s One of Those!

“Oh, so you’re one of THOSE, huh?”

Wow, I hadn’t been on the receiving end of such a venomous question in a long time. The phrase “ of THOSE,” was spoken as if it might refer to a pedophile, or a Trump supporter, or a Biden supporter (depending, of course, on which side of our nation’s calamitous rift you happen to be on), or, worst of all, a Yankees fan.
The young woman who asked that question of me with a sinister sneer is a dental hygienist. At the moment the question was asked, she was holding very pointy metal instruments in her hand, while I was in a rather defenseless position, laying back in the dental chair. So, being well-versed on when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em (from listening to Kenny Rogers songs), I knew that arguing with her would result in one of the more memorable — that is, painful — routine cleanings in a long time. (“Hey, is that instrument you’re holding  RUSTY?!” “Why are you using aircraft cable instead of dental floss?”)

In the most innocuous way possible, I cautiously asked, “Uh, what do you mean by ‘one of those’?” 

She quickly replied, “You’re one of those PowerPointers, aren’t you?”

Ah, PowerPoint. I didn’t think that was going to strike a nerve. A few minutes earlier, I had explained that whatever needed to be done to my teeth that day, they couldn’t use any Novocain. I was scheduled to give a lunch presentation right after the dentist appointment, and I did not want to try and speak for 60 minutes with half of my face numb. To emphasize the point (and to try and be a smart aleck, which is kind of my superpower), I pretended to have a numb mouth and talk as if I were giving a presentation. I hung my lower lip way down, and with difficulty said, “Ann noww, we can shee on shlide noombur sheven…” 
The moment I said “schlide” (that is, “slide”), her eyes narrowed and her nostrils flared. Then she blurted out her angry and accusatory question.

She later explained to me that she and her husband have to attend many training seminars to maintain their respective certifications, and during the process, they have come to loathe PowerPoint presentations. She said, “They are ALWAYS very boring, and they are ALWAYS at least 30 slides longer than necessary.”

I quickly replied, “But my presentations are not like that.” (What I neglected to mention is that what makes my presentations different is the fact they are EXTREMELY boring and at least FIFTY slides longer than necessary.)
If you are not familiar with PowerPoint presentations, well, congratulations. You have lived a blessed life and managed to avoid one of the biggest time-wasters in the history of human communication. And this is coming from someone who gives PowerPoint presentations multiple times each month. My presentations are officially titled “Lunch & Learns.” This means my company buys 10 pizzas or a few large trays of deli sandwiches for the meeting. I suspect that might be crucial in getting people to attend, but I like to tell myself they would come anyway even if we didn’t provide lunch. (Yeah, right. Just like I tell myself the Boston Red Sox will be calling me any day now because they need a wily left-hander out of the bullpen.)

If you are a fellow PowerPointer, let’s try to be considerate of our (often captive) audiences. Review your presentations and ponder what you can do to make them a bit more interesting. Or maybe you can delete some unnecessary slides. Er, I mean, schlides. After all, who wants to be accused of being one of THOSE?

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Don’t Be Too Judgmental

Recently, my wife and I met with some old friends from the church we used to attend. When I say, “old” friends, I mean we’ve known them for a long time, not that they’re elderly people. (But now that I think about it, all of us were born when Eisenhower was president, so you do the math.) 

We used to be part of a prayer group that met regularly before Covid. Since then, my wife and I moved to a different town, so we don’t see them much anymore. When we got together last month, we had a delightful afternoon praying the Rosary together, and of course, chatting about all kinds of topics. It was such a nice gathering, the wives in attendance didn’t even mind (too much) when my friend Gerry and I kept talking about baseball. 
At one point during our conversations, someone mentioned a person they know whose arms are completely covered with tattoos, from the wrists right up to the shoulders. Since everyone present at our little gathering was a Baby Boomer right around retirement age, not surprisingly there was not a single tattoo among the six of us. We started describing people we’ve met in recent years who are just covered in tattoos, along with nose rings, pink hair, and stretched out earlobe holes containing disks about the size of teacup saucers.

The general consensus of our discussion can be summarized in two comments: “Yuck!” and, “I just don’t get it!”

After a while, someone said, “I think we’re being a little too judgmental.”

The fact is, we were being quite judgmental. We kind of fell into that old familiar pattern of criticizing anyone and anything that is different. 
Being critical of people who are different is not unique to six particular church friends in western Connecticut. But generally speaking, when people start talking about those who are different, with everyone taking turns throwing fuel on the fire, the conversation can get rather mean-spirited. 

It reminds me of the most powerful song in the history of Broadway musicals: “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught.” This little tune from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” only lasts for slightly more than a minute during the show, but it packs a punch. Here are the lyrics:

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught
You’ve got to be carefully taught

By the way, that little song caused quite a stir when “South Pacific” premiered in 1949. Later, when the show went on tour in southern states, legislators tried to have it outlawed. But Rodgers and Hammerstein refused to give in, saying they’d rather the whole production fail than delete that one song.

Anyway, although the conversation my friends and I engaged in was rather judgmental toward those who embrace tattoos and piercings, I’m very glad we quickly realized our behavior was not very Christ-like. We repented and then had a good laugh speculating that maybe those of us who prefer not to be covered in tattoos are the real oddballs in our society.
The teachings of Jesus can really prevent a person from straying off track. We were reminded of that fact when our little gathering got a bit judgmental. In our polarized culture, there are so many folks who work themselves into a hate-filled lather toward people who are different, and they feel quite justified in doing so. They really need the Prince of Peace to set them straight.

When you truly understand that every human being was created in the image of God and is loved very much by Him, it’s really hard to bad-mouth them. I’m very glad our little group quickly realized that. 

But just so you know, I’m not getting a tattoo anytime soon. 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

‘Please Write it Down, Kreskin’

Have you ever gone out to eat at a restaurant, and your waiter or waitress turned out to be one of those self-proclaimed geniuses who does not need to write anything down? Here’s what happens: six different people around the table take turns saying what they’d like to order, including particular variations, such as, “Dressing on the side,” “Mixed vegetables instead of fries,” “Medium rare,” and, “Extra Hershey’s syrup on my salmon, please.” And the waitstaff person just nods, says, “Very good,” and then walks away.

Every time this happens, I mutter to my dinner companions, “What are the odds the Amazing Kreskin will get our order right?” (This comment is usually greeted with blank stares, as I’m the only one at our table who has wasted valuable brain cells memorizing useless trivia about weird Johnny Carson guests in the 1970s, rather than, say, more important facts, like my wife’s cell phone number or my loved ones’ birthdays.) 
Surprisingly, the vast majority of the time that we’ve gotten Kreskin Junior for our waiter or waitress, our order turned out to be exactly right. But still, it's an awkward situation that leaves me uncomfortable. Being lactose intolerant, if the genius waiter forgets that I said “No dairy,” there will be a whole new level of “uncomfortable” about 20 minutes after I eat, if you get my drift.

The last time a waiter took our order without writing anything down, I wondered if it would be rude to bring along a notepad and pen when we go out to eat. If the server just stands there listening, without reaching for a pen, I’ll whip out my pad and start writing everything down. Then, before he or she can say, “Very good,” and walk away, I’ll rip out the page and hand it over and say, “Here ya go, pal. Just in case you forget the Hershey’s syrup. And I wrote ‘NO DAIRY’ in capital letters and underlined it twice. I hope you don’t mind.”

The thing is, I’m sure the waitperson would mind. So I don’t think it’s a good idea to do the pad and pen exercise because it likely would increase the odds the insulted waiter or waitress would put EXTRA dairy in my meal.
(By the way, I’m really struggling here with the proper terms to use. Should I keep writing “waiter or waitress”? Or is “waitstaff person” correct, despite how awkward it sounds? Or should I just go with “server,” even though that makes me think of a computer data center or a tennis player? Navigating this gender sensitive moment in history is a challenge for old folks like me.)

Another reason why I would never bring a pad and pen out to dinner is the fact that I wouldn’t get the orders correct anyway. While trying to scribble down, “Dressing on the side,” while someone else was saying, “Mixed vegetables instead of fries,” I’d probably write, “Dressing on the fries.” And I’m sure I’d completely miss the Hershey’s syrup request.

After I handed my list to the, um, “human being who waits on and/or serves the dining patrons,” there would be a slight pause and an exasperated sigh before the “Very good” comment. There is no doubt extra dairy would be added to my meal.

I’m pretty sure I addressed this subject in an essay a few years ago. But I don’t remember the details of what I wrote since I don’t have a Kreskin-like memory. But if I’ve repeated the exact same comments here, I’m sure a genius waitstaffer person will send me an email note to let me know. Right after adding extra dairy to his or her or their email message. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Live Like You Were Dying – But Don’t Kill Yourself!

The other day I heard an old country song on the radio, “Live Like You Were Dying,” by Tim McGraw. Like all good country songs, it’s designed to pull on your heartstrings with poignant themes such as your favorite dog up and died, your grandpa up and died, your Chevy pickup truck up and died, or your third wife up and died. (I’m not sure why in country culture cherished people and things are required to up and die, rather than just die, but apparently that’s an important distinction.) 
Anyway, the Tim McGraw song tells the tale of a man in his early 40s who gets some bad medical news. “I spent most of the next days / Looking at the X-rays / And talkin’ ‘bout the options / And talkin’ ‘bout sweet time.” 

When a friend asks the man what he did when it seemed like it might really be the end, the singer breaks into the powerful chorus: “I went skydiving / I went Rocky Mountain climbing / I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu / And I loved deeper / And I spoke sweeter / And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”

Then he concludes by singing, “Someday I hope you get the chance / To live like you were dying.”
The second half of those lyrics are quite nice, but those first three items? Hmm, it seems to me he’s saying that when a man in the prime of life gets some really bad medical news, before beginning his treatment he should go out and break as many bones as possible. I bet when he showed up for his first chemo session the oncologists were not very thrilled to see him in a body cast.
It doesn't take a Mayo Clinic researcher to understand that skydiving, mountain climbing, and bull riding are statistically about 9,000 times more likely to cause fractures than, say, watching TV or mowing the lawn. 

I’m not sure if the theme of the song is “Live like you were dying” or “Kill yourself before the cancer does.”

I have a better idea – although it doesn’t involve anyone or anything up and dying, so it doesn’t qualify for a country song. If I received some really bad medical news, this is how I’d describe my actions: 

“I went beach walking / I went long lost buddy talking / I went 2.7 hours saying prayers in a church pew / And I laughed longer / And I hugged stronger / And I stopped taking and started giving / Someday I hope you get the chance / To die like you were living.”

Or something like that. The main thing is, I would do my best to show up for chemo sessions with the minimum number of plaster casts possible, preferably zero.

The Tim McGraw song was released in June, 2004. Tim’s father, famous baseball pitcher Tug McGraw, died of cancer in January of that year. Uh oh, now that you bring fathers and sons and baseball into the equation, it’s starting to have that country music effect on me: I’m getting teary-eyed now as I try to type. And trust me, my typing skills are so mediocre, the last thing I need is a blurry computer screen. (The only thing worse would be if my computer up and died.)
It’s been a little more than five years since my dad up and died, and I really miss him, especially during baseball season. There are so many things I wish I had said to him. If I dig out the “Field of Dreams” DVD right now, I’ll just melt into a big puddle on the floor.

So, take my advice: steer clear of country music, or else your composure will just up and die. 

Friday, June 2, 2023

More Thoughts on Deathbed Conversions

Last week I discussed deathbed conversions. Jesus made it very clear that if someone sincerely turns to God in faith at the moment before death, even after living a sinful and faithless life, the Lord will embrace him or her with open arms. That’s how merciful and loving our Creator is.

After I wrote that essay, I was reminded of some stories I’ve heard over the years about famous atheists who allegedly sought God on their deathbeds. In some cases, after the person died, family members went public to fiercely deny it ever happened. Carl Sagan’s widow is one such person. To me, it seemed her main motivation was to assure fellow atheists that Carl had not wavered and had not renounced “the faith” at the end. Because, after all, atheism is without a doubt a belief system that has to be taken on faith. It’s impossible to scientifically prove that there is no God (just as it is, by the way, scientifically impossible to prove that there IS a God. Both worldviews are at heart really faith-based religions).

Another person who comes to mind is Mickey Mantle. On his deathbed, the hall-of-fame baseball star was visited by a former teammate, Bobby Richardson, who was a devout Christian. After Mickey passed away, Richardson claimed that “The Mick” put his faith in Jesus during his final days. If I remember correctly, many sports commentators were upset that Richardson shoved religion into the story. The disdain toward people of faith was palpable. “How dare these Bible-thumpers use the death of a superstar to promote their wacky beliefs!” was the general sentiment.
There really is no good reason why atheists should be so upset if a person has a “deathbed conversion.” After all, if atheism is true, the person in question has ceased to exist. His once living flesh is now decomposing in the grave. And since there is no such thing as the spirit or soul, according to atheists, there is no part of the deceased person that lives on. So, what does it matter to the dead man if he cried out to a non-existent God before he died? He’s gone. Why are atheists so quick to deny the alleged deathbed plea to the Almighty ever happened? I really don’t know.

I recently read about a man who was regularly badgered by his co-workers, who pleaded with him to accept their point of view regarding politics, social issues, and religion. Finally, the man asked his co-workers a simple question: “Why is it so important to you that I see things exactly the way you do?”

The co-workers were taken aback and fumbled for a coherent reply. Finally, their answer was something along the lines of, “Because our views are right – um, in our opinion.”

If someone challenged a Christian evangelist with that question, the answer should be simple. The evangelist should say, “It’s important that you see things the way I do – that is, put your faith in Christ – because I sincerely believe if you don’t, your soul will spend eternity in torment. And I don’t want that to happen to you.”

Thinking back to the days when I was an atheist, if someone had asked me why it’s so important that they see things the way I do, I would’ve quickly replied, “It’s not important. I don’t care. Believe whatever you want.”
As a devout atheist, I had put my faith in Nothingness. No God. No soul. No life after death. No transcendent meaning to life. Nothing.

So, I didn’t care what other people believed. It didn’t matter to me. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? In the end, we’re all gone.

It strikes me as odd that atheists get upset when it’s reported that a “fellow believer” cried out to God on their deathbed. If atheism is true, who cares? In the end, we’re all gone.

But for those of us who believe in God and in life after death, the story of a deathbed conversion is a reason to rejoice. It’s another precious soul who avoided the anguish of eternal darkness.
Jesus made it quite clear in the gospels that deathbed conversions are real. As long as a person still has breath, he or she still has an opportunity to turn to God in faith. The Lord does not wish to see anyone lost, so much so that He keeps the door open right up until the end. That’s how loving and merciful our Creator truly is.