Catholics, Mormons, and Stephen Crane

My Organized Response to an LDS Missionary

Chapter 11 - Heaven Must Be Laughing

July 2001


XXII

When the prophet, a complacent fat man,
Arrived at the mountain-top,
He cried: "Woe to my knowledge!
I intended to see good white lands
And bad black lands,
But the scene is grey."

Stephen Crane:War is Kind #22

If I die, and there is no heaven, won't we all look silly. All the wars, all the missions, all the letters and debates would be for nothing. Are you willing to admit that it is possible that there simply is no afterlife? I sure hope that there is, but that is not the same as stating so factually.

The way it works is this. We "believe" in the existence in heaven as an act of faith. Faith is the belief in something that cannot be proved or disproved. A possibility is something that may occur, regardless of belief or faith. If you approve all these statements, then you must agree that it "is possible" that there is no afterlife. A missionary wants others to accept as faith that there is one, then most cults want to categorically state its size and shape and then define which earthy activities will deny or provide access to the bounty.

Suppose we die, and find out that there is no "heaven" but only "hell". What shall we do then? All of our prayers, rituals and good deeds on earth will have been wasted. It turns out that we could have drank and caroused and used drugs, had sex with multiple partners, robbed and pillaged and murdered and it would have made no eternal difference. Have you ever pondered this fate? Is it unthinkable? Would the knowledge of this negative eternal outcome cause you to change your earthly behavior? Are human adults like the lazy schoolchild not studying his homework but then thinking "she won't call on me"? Do we only study our homework because we expect to be called on in class? Or do we study to learn about the subject? Do we only pray and act and perform rituals because we expect to have a "judgment day" where such things will be measured and graded and rewarded? Or do we do them out of love and respect for our Father in heaven? I contend that my behavior, my faith, my earthly acts will not change whether the afterlife is proved to be heaven, hell or eternal black nothingness. What about you? God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change.

But Mormons (and Catholics and certain followers of Islam) will have you believe that YOU control the lock that God has placed on the doorknob of heaven, and that THEY are the only ones to delineate what is on the "do-bee" and "don't-bee" list. But I accept the fact that no man knows for sure. Just as nobody actually KNOWS that there is an afterlife at all. And what difference, whether it is heaven, hell, or nothingness?

But I will play along for the next while as if this elaborate, rediculous man-made rulebook was in fact God's revealed truth.

If the acceptance into heaven is controlled by the performance of rituals, do I want to go? If entrance is based only on good character then why must I perform the ritual? If I perform the prescribed ritual, but I am not of "perfect" character, will I still be denied entrance to eternal bliss? If so, heaven must resemble an empty blimp hangar!

No, of course not. Each religion teaches us that if you have performed the necessary rituals (whether it be smearing your head with the ashes of burned palm fronds, facing Mecca in your socks six times a day, or wearing secret underclothes), but you have been less than "perfect" in your behavior, (been "human", so to speak, in your daily life), then God will lovingly "forgive your trespasses", embrace you with His divine light, overlook your humanness and invite you to share his divine eternal love. Right?

He is, after all, a forgiving God. He expects you to strive for perfection in your actions but knows that you are not perfect. Knows that you are, by very human nature, a sinner. He will forgive your sins (if you atone for them) and accept you despite them. However, we are told, only if you perform certain earthly rituals as delineated by a man declaring himself to be a "living prophet".

Isn't that weird? Show lust or greed, jealousy or rage, and that will be forgiven; if and only if you are immersed in water and recite names in a locked room? Just exactly who invented that?

But suppose I die and go to heaven's waiting room. There I encounter God forgiving one after another of very "human" people, only to look me in the eye and say the equivalent of "tsk, tsk, tsk. You lead a good life but didn't stand on one leg while whistling Dixie". When the laughter died down, I would have to admit that I was sorry for all the time I had spent counting on his "perfect love". And, like Huckleberry Finn, it would be easy to take my chances elsewhere.

I expect the afterlife to be a place of spiritual awakening, of revelation, of the communion of spirits. Each are to be invited into one of the "many mansions" to reflect, resolve, repent, and rededicate. I will be there along the Mormons, Catholics, followers of the Koran and of the Torah. I will be there, rubbing elbows with Wiccans and Weslyans, Pentecostals and Papists, the Hindus and Humanists. And now safely behind the veil, aware of what is real and what is bullshit, we will all be having a great laugh about how much energy is spent on earth trying to "prove" that each particular picayune piece of dogma is the thing that God really uses as his yardstick to measure spiritual worthiness. Not the stuff he talked about, not the stuff that makes sense, not the stuff that is simply pure love and kindness. No, the important stuff is that you not eat milk with meat, or say a rosary, or strap dynamite to your body and get on a bus, or drink poisoned Kool-aid, or speak words in an elaborately decorated locked room while wearing funny clothes. Heaven must be laughing right now, except when they are crying over this.

 

Copyright, 2001, All rights reserved

Chapter 10 Return to Main Page Chapter 12

Introduction & Background

7.

I'm Right and They're Wrong

1.

Serene Futility

8.

Under Duress

2.

Damning Hypocrisy

9.

Money in the Bank

3.

Institutional Corruption

10.

The Carrot and the Stick

4.

God's Voice

11.

Heaven Must Be Laughing

5.

"All Religions are Corrupt"

12.

God the Bouncer

6.

Sealed with Chains

13.

Unlock the Temple Doors

Catholic & Mormon Links Page




Originally Written: April 2001
First Upload: July 2001
Last Update: November 4, 2001