Ronan recently speculated (apparently after some discussion with Brad) that sealing ordinances encourage ‘the dead to stay together at a time when, with the immensity of eternity before us, we may feel drawn to leave our earthly relationships behind’. In ‘Everything is Illuminated’, at the conclusion of Alex & Jonathan’s ‘very rigid search’, Alex writes to Jonathan and explains that through their journey ‘we have shared something to exist for’ . I want to explore a little more fully, in my own way, the ideas underlying this perspective.
Sealing rituals do not serve solely as symbols for our relationships rather they enact or memorialise the reciprocally constitutive nature of identity. Accepting a relational vision of apotheosis (i.e. Temple sealings) suggests that our potential divinity is inextricable from those to whom we are sealed. I am who I am because of those I have been sealed to; or, more accurately, I am sealed to those who have constituted who I am. And those sealings have been ritualised both in the temple and through baptism. We cannot, like Latour would suggest , re-assemble our associations without re-assembling ourselves. If we left these relationships behind in order to roam eternity surely we might be less-than the person we were, or, at the very least, we would be different from that other (prior) person. This is not to suggest that we cannot leave nor that the act of leaving might not be beneficial (Christ’s condescension might suggest otherwise) but we cannot escape that through leaving we are inevitablely different.
In addition Alex’s comment suggests that the desire to continue to exist is in part derived from these shared experiences. As someone who is intimidated by the boundlessness of the eternities  and who can (perhaps) envisage a time when I might choose to cease to exist , Alex’s words resonate with me deeply. That our continued existence ensures the eternal nature of our (sealed) shared experiences provides one potential reason why I would choose to live forever .
- Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated.
- Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social.
- Eugene England, Enduring in Dialogues with Myself.
- Julian Barnes, The Dream in The History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters
- Steven Peck, Crawling out of the Primordial Soup in Dialogue. The idea in Steve’s essay which I draw upon here refers to his view that divine truth and knowledge are preserved through interaction between agents, from consciousness to consciousness.