VR’s brother-in-law, Mike, dying of lung cancer was philosophical. He expected no after-life but admitted he would be content sitting on a cloud, reading, sipping eternally replenished red wine, and being endlessly served cheese-and-pickled-onion sandwiches. I wasn’t able to tell him this was unrealistic.
Pickled onions are powerfully flavoured; the normal human palate would baulk after three. Being able to eat them continuously would require a modified physiology. Thus the contented cloud-sitter would not be Mike as he knew himself. Proof that heaven – which in any case he didn’t believe in – was not for him.
And Christian heaven, as traditionally described, would demand a great deal of personal modification from earthly life as we know it. Anyone for harp-tuning? Christians are presumably OK with this.
But suppose secular heaven existed and I qualified (unlikely, I know). What could I expect? Sitting at a keyboard, rattling off a best-seller with intellectual appeal? That would simply be copy-typing. No uncertainties, stresses or hard-won delights typical of novel writing. Heaven doesn’t deal in uncertainty and stress.
Might I sing Du bist die Ruh like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau? Uh-huh; it’s the struggle which counts. Heaven dwellers would expect daily perfection plus uninterrupted delivery of The Guardian. Make that The Daily Telegraph.
Even the most placid Earth-dweller struggles. Bad things help make us appreciate good things. My heavens here are fantasies; none, I am told, may comprehend the mind of heaven’s landlord, God. Faith is a given but I prefer Ohm’s Law. The proof is duplicatable.
But could I risk hubris and devise a secular heaven? See my next post.