Have you ever thought about fishing and the afterlife? Some animal rights hippies have…
What if the animal rights activists—the really nasty, smelly and radical ones, are right? Can that group of assholes really send you to Hell because of what they think?“
How does a person define himself? The answer to this question both dictates and reflects worldview all at the same time. Beyond being a father and husband, I am first and foremost a Christian.
Being Roman Catholic, my palate can deal with a bit more pomp and circumstance than some other iterations of those who follow Jesus.
We may retain a few organizational differences in the structure of church, but far as I can tell we’re all more or less trying to get to the same place. Growing up I attended plenty of protestant churches—and besides, I don’t attend mass regularly enough to pass judgment on anyone.
Live and Let Live
In a religion class in college, I heard the word “ecumenical.” It seemed nice to me at the time and for some reason has crowded out other, more potentially useful things in my brain ever since.
Roughly translated ecumenism means giving credence or leeway to the beliefs of others—rather than, for instance, practicing sectarian violence against them.
Generally speaking, being open to the beliefs of others is a good practice. The whole live and let live type deal is, after all, quite a bit less stressful than worrying about what others think.
I figure it’s also a pretty reasonable courtesy to extend to followers of Allah, the Buddha, or whatever other vehicle to whatever happens after we die that someone chooses.
The Great Authenticator of Truth
In this regard my motives are not simply pragmatic, but start to enter into the land of the philosophical. Without starting down some metaphysical rat hole, to my view judgment into someone’s religious views is beyond my pay grade.
There may well exist universal truths in relation to such matters, but nothing in my 37 years on this earth has provided me with any indication that what I think has any bearing on the matter.
On any scale beyond the confines of my own head, what I think about someone’s belief systems doesn’t matter—unless, perhaps, one of my kids decides she wants to visit Jonestown.
“If You Can’t Do Anything About It, Why Worry About It.” Ancient Redneck Proverb
Best I can tell my ascriptions of value on how others act do not physically change anything. Redneck logic then dictates that since what I think doesn’t change anything anyway, I’d be better served not worrying about it.
After all if there is a universal truth and that truth defines or dictates the belief structure you must follow in order to enter a preferred afterlife destination, that Great Authenticator is surely not me. Upon coming to this conclusion, it seems pointless and arrogant to attempt to pass judgment on the faiths, actions or lifestyles of anyone else.
When pondering items of the existential, one surely hopes for your desired outcome—everyone would like to believe that what they believe is right.
When I kick the bucket, I’d like it to be St. Peter that I meet. We can talk fishing—he is the Patron Saint of Fishermen after all.
I’d love to walk the Streets of Gold and get to thank Jesus. All of that would be great and I could take solace in the fact that the way I tried to lead my life worked itself out.
The Many Possible Versions of the Afterlife
Then, there is always another possibility. After all believing something does not in and of itself make something true. (I can believe the world is flat all I want… oh wait, never mind).
What if there were another religious variant that were the way to go? What if the Vikings were right? If they’d let you fight and feast and drink beer with them in Valhalla, that wouldn’t be so bad.
Here’s some background reading about what might be in store if you head to Valhalla. Does fishing have any bearing on the Viking brand of afterlife?
Hanging Out with Crazy Horse and Geronimo?
What if the Native American stories of the Happy Hunting Ground were in fact how eternity plays out? If it all went alright, I guess you’d have plenty of time to learn to ride ponies bareback and I really enjoy shooting animals. There are as many versions of afterlife as there are religions.
If any of these alternate versions of eternity were to come to pass, I suppose I’d be disappointed. I wouldn’t lead my life any differently than I do, but it would be a natural let down.
Whatever comes to pass I am comfortable and confident in my choices and where things in this life are headed. There is, however, one potential eventuality that brings me pause.
What if The Hippies Are Right
I am a hunter and fisherman. Trying to understand how to catch and eat fish and animals has defined much of my life.
I liked fishing so much growing up that it dictated my college and graduate education. Most of the jobs I’ve ever had were somehow related to fishing and the oceans—scientist, general manager of a fishing lodge, regional manager of a fishing apparel brand, editor in chief of a fishing magazine… you get the point.
When I’m not working I go fishing for fun too. It doesn’t even matter what kind of fish I’m after. And if that weren’t enough, I really like hunting too.
It’s A Sporting Life for Me
I’ve killed or tried to kill all kinds of shit—deer, ducks, doves, turkeys, elk… even a beaver. I’ve thought about and dreamed about killing even more things—bears, moose, buffalo, feral pigs, wolves…
Depending on how successful I’ve been lately, my freezer looks like Jeffrey Dahmer’s (only without the human parts). I could well be an animal rights watch list for my fondness of hunting and fishing.
There are some ethical rules in play (I’m not big one caged hunts, I wouldn’t shoot a rhinoceros, and I prefer to keep things humane), but all in all I derive quite a bit of pleasure and fulfillment from hunting and fishing. It seems to me to be a very natural thing.
An associated pillar of my belief in not judging others is that what I think doesn’t change anything either way. Even if I were to say, “To Hell with that,” the chances of that thing going or not going to hell are probably pretty unaffected.
About the only scenario when it comes to fishing and the afterlife that gives me pause involves this premise.
What happens next?
What if the animal rights activists—the really nasty, smelly and radical ones—are right? Can that group of assholes—the ones who value animal life over humans– really can send you to Hell because of what they think?
Can fishing fishing really be animal torture– an the act of hunting actually violates some otherwise unknown capitol moral code?
After all, these yahoos believe it fervently and they are quite vocal about it. Some of them cyberbully people who post hunting or fishing photos.
The World Is A Crazy Place
They protest people who hang big, dead fish… even ones that are worth millions of dollars in tournaments. They take to social media to openly describe the layers of Hell that hunters and fishermen are going to.
There are even some yahoos who say they’ll stamp your passport to hell by firebombing your house. There are some whackos who will actually try to hasten your trip to the afterlife… just for fishing.
What if what these assholes think really does matter? What if they can send you to Hell?
Do you know how many fish and worms I’ve killed… just for bait. I was once in a truck with my buddy when we ran over a nutria rat… another time, another buddy hit a whole herd of deer! That’s what happens when you grow up in Texas.
What does that mean for fishing & the afterlife?
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many parts of the world—not only trying to catch fish, but writing about, talking about and sometimes teaching other people to do the same thing.
The Questionable Morality of Releasing a Tasty Keeper
I’ve never met a yellowfin tuna or a wahoo or a crappie that I didn’t want to eat (as long as they were big enough to keep… I’m not an animal).
My grandmother is Cajun. Where I’m from throwing back a legal redfish is tantamount to sin… If it’s not an example of stupidity, it’s at the very least vanity. This may itself have implications to fishing and the afterlife.
What type of Hell do they have in store? Fishing and the Afterlife…
If these yahoos are right, when its lunch time in Hell they’ll have a seat for me at Pol Pot’s table… right next to Michael Jackson. I’d be on the fast train… the elevator all the way to the bottom.
Mine would be the place where all they serve for eternity are veggie burgers and tofu. Where you are forced to overhear “intellectual” conversations about the merits of astrology and the moral obligations to neuter cats… and how stupid you have to be to vaccinate your children.
What if the hippies are right?
Who knows… maybe that’s something to think about on the way to the bait shop or grilling some venison.
This is meant to provoke conversation and maybe make somebody think. Send us your comments– we can all get along as long as you don’t threaten to fire bomb my house. EStark@FishTravelEat.com