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."
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
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.