For Sale: A piece of heaven. Yours for eternity. Good neighbors. Price is negotiable.
An old friend once joked with me saying, “Katie, you love a good discussion. You’d even argue what kind of silverware they have in Heaven.” Tongue in cheek, I replied, “I already own beautiful silverware here on earth.”
Streets of gold, cities beyond the aesthetics of our limited worldly existence? The newly discovered Gospel of Thomas states that the Kingdom of Heaven is here and we don’t see it. Which?
Two books have thrown curve balls in the stadium of my belief in the afterlife and immortality:
Ghost Dance: Origin of Religion by Weston LaBarre: In essence, LaBarre was a psychoanalytical think Freud) anthropologist. He spoke about how religions are responses to crises, thus religion is a psychological defense mechanism against a reality that is sometimes too hard to bear. He wrote of a Paiute shaman who maintained that if the Indians abandoned liquor, did not harm others, and danced his dances, the whites would disappear and the Indians would dwell in a paradise on earth. The buffalo would return, and deceased Indians would come back to life forever. The “Ghost Dance,” as it was called, spread rapidly over the plains, and thousands of Indians danced his dances and awaited the world renewal. While reductionistic and Freudian, my reaction to reading this book (at age 30) was that crisis, particularly the awesome realization of a final death, has spawned religion. If one were comfortable in the reality of a certain death, would one need religion?
Blessed Assurance: At Home with the Bomb in Amarillo, Texas by A. G. Mojtabai: In a nutshell, Ms. Mojtabai sat up camp in Amarillo, Texas to determine why people could rationalize the fact that they were building the last stages of bombs. To her amazement (and mine upon reading her text), religious employees were so rapture happy that they already had one foot in Heaven anyway, so why not feed their families during their limited stay on earth working at the bomb factory (sic). Having grown up hearing the song, “Blessed Assurance” plus “I’ll Fly Away” and “This World is not my Home, I’m just a Passing Through”, I reevaluated my feelings about Heaven. If focused on the afterlife rather than one’s brief visit on the planet Earth, might one miss out on what the Gospel of Thomas meant by his instruction that the Kingdom of Heaven is here?
Animals die. Plants regenerate. Religions use plant metaphors concerning the afterlife. Hmmm.
Might a solution be to hedge one’s bets and enjoy what Heaven one can experience here and hope for happily ever after in the Great By and By?