‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Saturday, June 18, 2011

No One Ever Talks About Heaven

We drift from day to day, headed toward somewhere. We take our showers, brush our teeth, put on our socks. We glance in mirrors, wash a dish, check our status, walk a dog. But where do all these tiny incremental acts take us? Where are we going and why don't we ever stop moving long enough to talk about it?
I have a friend who think we go nowhere, another who is sure we join a great infinite spirit of energy, another thinks it is simply one life after another. Of course I have my friends of many varied Christian denominations who, like me, believe we are headed home. Whatever we believe, why don't we talk about it more?

Take a trip with a child. You will hear the inevitable 'Mommy, are we there yet?' Are we there yet?' You will also inevitably hear about their plans: 'When we get to grandma's, I'm going to pick carrots from her garden!' or 'When we get to the beach, I'm going to build the biggest sandcastle ever!' Children not only think about the end of the journey, they imagine what they will do there. Why don't we?

I'd love to start a dialogue here about the Afterlife. Heaven. The Great Abyss. Nirvana. Jannah. Araboth. Whatever you call it and however you envision it, I'd love to hear. I've been fascinated with the world to come since early childhood, but it is such a valued and intimately personal obsession, I have not always shared my curiosity with others. My Dad and I talked about it endlessly (We shared the fascination.) But I rarely talked about it with anyone other than my very closest friends.

I don't want to get into my personal beliefs about it just yet. I want to hear from you. Where do you think you're headed? What do you envision? How often do you think about it? How does your particular faith influence your beliefs about it? What do you hope - or who do you hope - is there?


  1. I suppose I don't talk about it more, because I can't envision it. What will perfection and a new heaven and earth be like? How will we interact with God, with loved ones? Will we remember those who don't get there? If we leave before the final end, can we watch what goes on here? I have no answers, so no way to speak. I am beginning to long more for Heaven, but need to focus more on that longing.

    Also, in some way, I believe we are all part of wither the Kingdom of Heaven or of Hell now. They are transcendant, not just future.

    This could be a great conversation, Keri. Thanks for starting it.

  2. I admit just a short time ago, less then a month, I didn't really think much about heaven. I had what I believe to be a typical image of heaven; bright blue, but cloudy skies, walking on clouds, etc. Just a week ago I was introduced to a book by my mom intitled "Heaven is for Real". This book is about a little boy, who when seriously ill took a journey to heaven and was then, over many years, able to describe events that happened to him during that time. It is a really enlightening read and it has given me a sense of peace. I feel like the book answered many of my questions I had before. I believe this boy went to heaven and I believe the things he described are real. My answers of what Heaven might be like have been answered by this book.
    Despite my belief in Heaven, I don't talk about it because it makes me uncomfortable. I am still young, 19, and thinking about Heaven and what Heaven entitles isn't something I really want to think of. I also feel like people my age either are atheist or agnostic and those that do believe in God are afraid to talk about Him. I know I am. It seems when I bring it up my beliefs and answers to questions always get shot down, especially when I talk to a coworker about them.
    Thank you for bringing this up and allowing me to express my views.

  3. As one of those unbelievers, i'll add my side of the debate.

    Firstly to accept the concept of heaven, then by definition we have to accept the concept of religion. Christian religion or the bible as we know it was compiled following the Council of Nicea in 331AD on the orders of emperor Constantine, at a time when religion was seen as the best means of controlling the masses.

    The version of religion that we have inherited today is therefore based on what a roman emperor, a politician, decided he wanted us to believe. Today we have a healthy scepticism or disbelief towards anything spoken by a politician so therefore why should we believe anything in the bible, a book written by politicians 1700 years ago with their own agenda for the world as they knew it in mind.

    Carl Marx summed it up best "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people"

    So if we accept that religion as we know it is a collection of old stories pulled together, rewritten and edited by politicians hundreds of years after the events they are purported to describe, then we have to treat the very concept of heaven or hell with the same degree of scepticism.

    To me the concept of heaven exists in only one place and thats in our own heads. We are desperate to believe in heaven or a life hear after as otherwise we are faced with the concept that existence as we know it is finite and death as we know it is final. But I ask what is wrong with the concept of finality in death. To me its more of a reason to fit as much as possible into the life we have today, so enjoy and celebrate the life you have and fit as much joy into it as possible, don't worry about tomorrow.

  4. Melinda, you have me thinking- part of the kingdom of Heaven or Hell today. That bears pondering!

    Renae, there are many young people who are firm in their faiths. I hope that you meet some of them while you are young. Maybe a local youth group? Or an online forum? It must be hard to be the only one you know.

    Oz, your point is important, but misapplied. Constantine did not write any Biblical texts, and, whatever his motives (and your criticism of politicians using religion is relevant throughout all history), the Nicene Creed is drawn from texts more ancient than he, and codified from creeds extant from the beginnings of Christendom. For a good layman's read into the historicity of the Christian faith, I recommend Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ", if you care to follow a fellow skeptic's research.

    Keri, yes. We SHOULD think so much more and talk so much more about where we are going. For my part, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in my flesh I shall see God. His holiness would consume me if He had not born the penalty for my sins. But He has, and I think often, when life is too dark, of the joy of Heaven. The uncovering of all things done on earth, good and evil, so that justice is done. The restored fellowship with people and with God, from whom we are separated by our sinful nature. And, as I age and think of so many earthly joys (with a nod to OZ, realizing that he may consider me opiated) which I will never get a chance to experience, I am consoled that, whatever joys I imagine, Heaven will be better. But I hope that thinking of Heaven sobers me as I live, to remember that I will give an account of all I did and didn't do.

  5. I do want to believe I am headed to heaven - this is obviously influenced by my strong Catholic upbringing. But I also question it whenever I think about it. Why? I wish I had an answer. The part of me that believes in heaven also believes my grandparents are there. I pray to God and I find comfort in prayer, but oh, I question my faith, or lack of faith or my questioning faith all the time.

  6. What an interesting pondering Keri. :) I believe in Heaven. I also believe in Hell. I also believe that to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord. I look forward to the time when all sorrow and suffering will be over. All tears will cease, all pain, sickness and evil will be gone. I look forward to worship of my Lord, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. However, I also know that THIS life, here and now serves a purpose for the future.
    When I was young, I thought, you believe Jesus died for your sins, and then you go to heaven when you die.
    What I KNOW to be true now is: The Walk, the transformation doesn't start when you die and go to heaven. It starts with faith, that Jesus is who He said he was... and continues into eternity. We have a good look at what things will be like for our bodies, as Jesus was the FIRST BORN INACARNATE, the first born of the resurrection. Meaning, at his resurrection, he BODILY resurrected. He is the first one. All those in heaven now, await their bodies, longing to be clothed. This will not happen until the end of time. The dead in Christ will rise.... As far as "where is heaven?" Revelation talks about this earth being destroyed and being renewed as a new heaven's and a new earth. The important thing for me is not that it will happen soon or later... it is WHO I will be with. What would heaven be, without Jesus? I don't see heaven as club med. LOL I see it as a place where we will see HIM face to face, we will behold him, and be like him. And then? Who knows. :)

  7. I like to believe that when we die, after we have lived a good life, we merge with The One. We no longer are ourselves, which for me answers the questions: If I loved my late spouse and now am happily re-married, what happens when we all meet in heaven? If I have gone blind on this earth, is my body complete again after I die? What if I never had a limb? Do I get one? What about people who are otherwise "disabled"? Do they get to be "whole" in heaven? If you die as an infant, are you eternally in infant? Well, you cease to be "you". You no longer have an earth body to worry about--so you are neither infant or crone. There is no jealously, no incompleteness, no age, no "dis-anything". You become one with the Infinite, with Bliss. Your spiritual spark merges with the spark that grows the tree, that makes the bird sing, that makes the wind blow; you even merge with the vital essence of plankton and bread mold! It's ALL ONE! We are ALL ONE! You become part of God.
    However this does not solve the problem for me of what happens with people who live for evil, who kill, who hurt others, who are living an evil life. Do they get to merge? This I have not figured out yet.
    Amen everyone, and may you find God in Everything and Everything in God.

  8. I can say SO much about Heaven. But, a lot of it has been written in the comments above mine! I really believe, I want to believe that there will be babies in Heaven! That those tiny ones who go before us will remain in the form/age/size they were when they left us. I say that because babies and toddlers and children are some of THE most Precious things on this earth! I need to believe that there will be babies to rock, little tiny sweet smelling necks to snuggle our nose in and breathe in that sweetness that only a newborn possesses! And, that all of the orphans who had no one here on Earth to love on them...are being cuddled and loved by those who have gone before us and will be there in Heaven waiting for us! I may not get to be a Mama here on this earth, but I will be a mama in Heaven. Thanks, Keri for letting us share our thoughts on heaven! Hugs ~ Jo

  9. I was talking with my wife about this earlier. I believe that heaven is the answer to all of life's questions. We try so hard during our lives to find out, why do bad things happen to good people, why is there so much injustice and chaos in the world. I believe that heaven is so wonderful and pleasant that any hardship or injustice that is suffered in this life will be resolved in heaven. Jesus is the ultimate in what I view as a heavenly entity. He would do anything for you, he would give up his own life so that you wouldn't have to suffer forever. He is God himself, and he can get on your level and talk about the things that matter, and ease your suffering. Sin is something we bring on ourselves daily, and it doesn't help that we aren't beliving in heaven, if not for God's sake, then at least for our own. I truly feel sorry for those who believe, even hope that this life is all there is. All joy, beauty, youth, memories, and people fade away in this life, and heaven is the promise that Jesus made that would our ultimate redemption, our personal lives with him, and that no one can take away. I suppose that if you want to believe in heaven, you first need to believe in Christ.


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