In the week before Easter, a Bizarro cartoon imagined a scene in heaven. Several angels in long white robes with wings stood up to their knees in clouds. Two younger angels in front, with fledgling wings, twiddled their thumbs helplessly. An older angel in the background commented, “Most of the new arrivals seem incapable of conversation. They just stare at their hands in despair.”
What? There won’t be smart phones in heaven?
How about wi-fi?
If we don’t have Google, how will we be able to look up anything?
Most of the common assumptions about heaven—to the extent that people have bothered thinking about heaven at all—deal with what we won’t have, and won’t need. We won’t need phones, because we will have instant communication with anyone, everyone, anytime. We won’t need Google, because we’ll be directly connected to all knowledge. We won’t need toilets, because we won’t have bodies, and therefore no bodily functions.
Which also implies, of course, that we won’t have food to pass through our non-bodies. No gourmet meals, with the very best vintage wines, aged for, well, since we’re already in eternity, aging wouldn’t apply anyway.
So we won’t need a sense of taste. Or, for that matter, the senses of sight, sound, touch, and smell. Why would we need physical senses to appreciate non-material things?
This is beginning to sound less appealing.
Would we have doctors, lawyers, nurses, civil servants? They wouldn’t be excluded from heaven (whatever you happen to think of lawyers and bureaucrats) but they wouldn’t need their professional skills. No one would get sick. No one would take legal action. No one would need welfare to survive…
For some, eternal uselessness might feel more like hell than heaven.
In all the reading I’ve done about near-death and life-after-death experiences, I don’t remember anything about what it was actually like on the other side. Just warm feelings of being loved, of being enveloped in light, and of being able to view events on Earth from a new perspective.
No word about what it’s like to live devoid of time and space, of mass and measurement. Is it a void? Or is the void itself filled with realities beyond our imagining?
On Easter Sunday, Christian churches around the world celebrated Jesus’ victory over death. But there is not one word in the Gospels about what he experienced between death and resurrection. Not one.
You’d think his disciples might have been curious. Apparently not.
There’s a lot about heaven in the book called the Revelation —streets paved with gold, gates carved from gems—but I consider Revelation about as authoritative as Timothy Leary’s hallucinogenic visions.
When I raise such questions in discussion groups, people look strangely at me. We don’t have to know these things in advance, they tell me. It will all work out, they say.
Fortunately, the reality of heaven doesn’t depend on my speculations. If there is a heaven—assuming I qualify for it—then whatever will be, will be. And if there isn’t a heaven, then my musings won’t matter anyway.
In the meantime, it does lead to some interesting conversations.