Gallery E
Boring Eternity?
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Does Anybody Really Want To Go To Heaven?

By James Donahue

There is a thread-worn joke that just about everybody has told or at least heard a few dozen times. We say we don’t really want to go to Heaven because we won’t know anybody up there.

There is some basis for making a statement like that. The descriptions of Heaven . . . as best we can ascertain from the few Bible verses that address the subject . . . do not make it a very alluring place.

The general picture described in the writings of John say that Heaven is a place where the streets are paved in gold and the walls contain precious stones. We walk (or float) around in bodies that experience no pain or hunger, and we devote most of our time singing praises to God who sits on a throne above us. Of course there is the old image of angels playing on harps, thus giving us constant background music.

Imagine spending an eternity in such a boring existence. That we don’t experience pain or hunger suggests that we don’t have to eat or experience trouble. Imagine never getting a good gourmet meal, or having to deal with challenges as we proceed through our eternal existence.

I don’t particularly like harp music. It is all right when accompanied by an entire orchestra I suppose. But listening to it non-stop for eternity might tend to drive me loopy. But then if I am on my knees singing praises to God all day and all night, maybe the harp music in the background might be somewhat of a welcome diversion.

At least the Islamic people don’t seem to have a hang-up about sexual activity when they reach Heaven. That old promise of a reward of 72 virgins for martyrs of the faith, who dare to blow themselves up for Allah, strongly implies that the virgins are there for a reward. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand what that reward is supposed to be.

My father liked to tell a joke about a new arrival in Heaven who was being shown around the place by St. Peter. During the tour they came upon a group of people living a very separate existence far from the others. St. Peter explained that they were Baptists. They were placed by themselves because they didn’t think anybody else was up there with them.

Indeed, we have a lot of jokes and misconceptions about an afterlife . . . if it exists. Jesus is quoted as telling his followers that he was going to prepare many mansions for them to live in. But why mansions? Do we need gold paved streets, ruby walls and luxury mansions to live in? Do we not find happiness here on Earth with more simple possessions? Warm meals, a comfortable bed and good friends are the basics for a good life. And there is something about the human nature that requires a challenge as we strive for accomplishment.

Writer Valerie Tarico recently penned an interesting thought in an article on her website. She suggests that from the descriptions we have been given of Heaven, that the place may actually be a form of Hell.

That is because the occupants are tormented for eternity having to sing those praises to the Creator, they have no diversion to their lives, no challenges for personal accomplishment or a good meal to enjoy. They live in luxury and perfection, so there is no work to be done to make it better. There appears to be no food to eat, no sex, not even a need for sleep. Free will is non-existent. And no matter how bored the existence is, there is no means of escape. We can’t kill ourselves and go into another life. We are at the end of the road, so-to-speak.

Tarico wrote that "one of Heaven’s dirty little secrets is that is co-exists with hell . . . Some theologians have argued that "witnessing the torment of the damned will be one of the joys of paradise."

Talk about a perverted mental state . . . this appears to be the ultimate. In my years working as a news reporter and former volunteer fire fighter I watched a lot of people suffering in pain and agony. There are images I would love to erase forever from my mind. Watching more of them from a vantage point high over Hell is not my idea of a good time.