Laughing at the Afterlife

Okay, admit it. If you’re reading this blog, you’re at that age where you’re thinking about it.


If you are at all concerned – and who isn’t? – I recommend reading a fun book called Sum; Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman.

Eagleman is a sharp young neuroscientist who looks at life with humor and creativity. The forty short stories (2-5 pages each) in Sum are more like parables which can be read on more than one level. The main theme is that life on Earth is simpler and more fun than we humans have made it out to be, and in that sense Sum is a teasing reminder to lighten up and appreciate the now.

I laughed out loud at some of the stories, like Egalitaire, in which God in Her great generosity invites all who die to come to Heaven equally, but the outcome surprises her:

“The Communists are baffled and irritated, because they have finally achieved their perfect society, but only by the help of a God in whom they don’t want to believe. The meritocrats are abashed that they’re stuck for eternity in an incentiveless system with a bunch of pinkos. The conservatives have no penniless to disparage; the liberals have no downtrodden to promote.

“So God sits on the edge of Her bed and weeps at night, because the only thing everyone can agree upon is that they’re all in Hell.”

I highly recommend this book! And if you want to feel uplifted right now, watch what he has to say about his new movement, Possibilianism, at PopTech in Camden, Maine.

Kindle readers can contact me at


  1. says

    I agree that we could all use some lightening up about now. I know I could. Although in the dismal debate about the deficit, I wasn’t so sure whether I should laugh or cry. I’m still not.

    • says

      Me neither, Madeleine. I almost feel like hiding my head in the sand. The only hope is that these 12 supercongresspeeps are somehow walled off from normal lobbying etc. Or maybe if they pick 12 legislators who have nothing to lose (e.g. aren’t afraid of losing their seats or in any event are more concerned about the country than their jobs) maybe something will get done. But I’m not going to pay attention for a few days. I’m going to go pick tomatoes.

  2. says

    This book looks like one we all need to read. One of the most noticeable aspects of aging is how quickly time flies. I’m facing a BIG high school reunion and the number is daunting to say the least!
    However upsetting, these markers might serve to remind us that time is fleeting and “appreciating the now” is more important than ever. Thanks for your reminder, too!

    • says

      Love ’em while you’ve got them. My husband taught me to build a bank of memories for when they’re gone so you have something to draw on. I hope your mom has support in the sense of friends, family, neighborhood and/or church. Thanks for writing.

  3. says

    I read it some time ago and found it quite amusing. Particularly, when I put it down and read another tale or two another day. Good and clever ideas, just a bit samey taken all at once.

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