Friday, August 26, 2005

The Afterlife.

Both Unity and Peacebang have written about the afterlife recently, and it have been on my mind, too. I was planning to finish Alan F. Segal's Life after Death before I wrote a post on the afterlife, but it's sort of a slow read and I've been busy.

When I was a kid, I was not allowed to attend adult parties. My parents only ever had one. They didn't have a lot of friends and this was people from their church. But in parental desperation for adult time, they threw a cocktail party and sent CC to bed. (Her brothers weren't born yet.)

Naturally, I spied on the party.

Years later, it occurred to me that my first imaginings of the afterlife, which featured a bunch of adults at a party on a really big cloud drinking multicolored beverages and talking animatedly, everyone in modern cocktail clothes except for George Washington, who is for some reason in his Army uniform, were really of that cocktail party

Heaven was adulthood.

This is the clearest example of my theory that for those of us who are somewhat theologically unsophisticated, our vision of heaven gives us something we think we are missing in life, even if that afterlife is, say, eternal freedom from stimulation.

At some point in my college years, I figured out that my island is sort of an afterlife vision as well.

Katy-the-Wise and I were talking about the afterlife one time and she said she couldn't imagine a heaven that wouldn't get boring. I think of my childhood vision of an eternal cocktail party and have to agree. Her theory is that the only form of heaven one could really stand is eternal contemplation before God. I am a somewhat visual thinker, so as soon as Katy said this, I imagined her sitting alone in a movie theater, talking to the screen to a God who communicates in the picture and the sound. I like to think she gets popcorn. When Peacebang and I were discussing this, she noted that probably a theater that allows smoking would be good, too.

I think eternal contemplation before God sounds like an interesting afterlife. I think having our souls, who aren't us anymore, join some sort of collective force for good, is also possible. The idea freaks me out, though. I don't want to be a soul that's not me bouncing along the either, at one point bumping into a soul that's not my linguist friend or a soul that's not Jennifer Beautiful. Our personalities and our lives might not be significant to the eternal force, but as far as I'm concrned, they are all we've got.

The souls in the force for good thing is beyond what I can deal with right now, and the contemplating before God seems lonely. I can't get my head around the concept of God as the eternal BFF.

So I've decided there's a pre-heaven. This movie theater has a lobby. And all my pals are there. You can wait there as long as you want, eating snacks and playing video games and hanging out with your friends. When you're done with working stuff out from your life and are ready to contemplate, then your show starts.

I've already challenged Peacebang to pinball.

who was about ten years old when her friend's mom, Jane, died. Within a year, the friend's dad, Leroy, married Sue. Whether Leroy would hang out with Jane or Sue in the afterlife is something that bothered me as a kid. I finally decided that Jane would have him Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Sue would have him Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sunday everybody would hang out as a family. At 27, this is still the best I can do on that one.


Anonymous said...

I don't think the personality survives death by much. Long enough to "get perspective" on your life, then you dissolve into the Oneness.
any heaven we can imagine must be boring: if it doesn't have anything we on Earth consider stressfull, and not being stressed is boring, then it has to be boring. What would happen if you put some challenges back into heaven? It would still be boring if there was no possibility of failure at those challenges, wouldn't it? but can you fail in heaven?
So, we either need to change our definition of heaven or get rid of our earthly personalities to have a heaven. Or, heaven is just a vacation spot, then you come back here again for some challenges.
Or, heaven is like it's pictured in Stranger in a Strange Land, where you are focused on interfering in earthly lives. (not likely!)
So, logically there can be no "heaven" if it's a perfect place. We need imperfection to live. Interestingly, the latest(?) version of the Big Bang theory says, though not in so many words, that Imperfection is the creator of the Universe -- if there hadn't been a perturbation (an imperfection) in the original ball of energy, we would still be just energy with no matter. so, to regain perfection, we would need to go back to pure energy.

fausto said...

If you haven't read it before, you'll enjoy Satan's take on the popular human apprehension of Heaven, as reported by Mark Twain in Letters from the Earth.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link -- it's been a long time since i read Letters from the Earth