I love asking, “And then what?” to my friends who diet and exercise. “I just want to lose fifteen pounds,” they might say. And then what? “Then,” they continue, “I’d like to get more toned and just be healthier.” And then what? And then what? Try it sometime. Try it on yourself whenever you think something is going to help you change your life. It’s soul-crushing great fun.

When posed to any idea or thought, death is always the end of “And then what?” Death is even the end of Christianity. So, you want to spread the Good News? And then what? How will you do it? And then what? But how will you convince them? And then what? So on and so forth until one ends in either the death of self or the Spanish Inquisition. It might take more than a thousand steps in a thousand generations to get there, but there is a dark night with torture at the end, all the same. Any idea, no matter how high or brilliant or Godly, carries within the seeds of its very own destruction. Murderous hate and the brotherhood of man all grow together.

Start with freedom for all and end in total serfdom. It’s the only way humanity works. So-called communal living and Individualism both end in either murder or suicide. Even choosing not to believe anything is a kind of death, too. Ask it of anyone who proclaims belief in nothing and see the natural end of apathetic non-opinions.

Is death even the end, both naturally and philosophically? Is there anything beyond death, beyond this human instinct for murder or suicide? And then what? And then what? I don’t know.

I do believe that the cruelest trick of God was to give us minds that could imagine a static, changeless world but give us bodies that could never inhabit it. So, we dream of ideas ending in perfection, preaching that all will have life to the fullest. But inhabit bodies and minds that will never, never attain it.

Who will free me from this body of death? St. Paul once asked that. And then what?