In “What the Dead Are For”, when someone dies they wake up in a mysterious graveyard, and there are two paths to consider. They could head to the forest and river to rest, or they can make the climb up the looming hill freckled with gravestones. Pastor Bob Williamson, as a man of strong Christian faith, believes that heaven is surely earned by climbing the hill, and thus tries to make his ascent.
This is a really interesting piece. It takes a proud, devout character and challenges him physically and mentally, making him rely on his own choices rather than a prewritten scripture. His ideas and morals began to conflict, and doing good became a different concept than doing “the right thing”.
Religion can be quite tricky to write about, since a lot of people can become defensive when their faith is questioned. I’m not as passionate about my religion as a great many of people, but I still think that Terry Grimwood did a pretty good job of not stepping on toes and more than necessary to tell the story. The story, to me, didn’t feel pro- or anti-religion. It was more of a “what if” scenario, and I found it fascinating.
I enjoyed the way the story ended, as it concluded Pastor Bob’s story, but I have a suspicion it will frustrate certain readers that like definitive answers to all the questions. Still, I recommend this to readers that like to wonder about life after death, as I do. Just read it with an open mind, and I think you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised.