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What Is/Would Heaven Be Like?

Pearly gates, golden streets, eternal profound joy...

Sound a tad boring to anyone else?

"And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its breadth; and he measured the city with his rod, twelve thousand stadia; its length and breadth and height are equal. He also measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits by a man's measure, that is, an angel's.

"The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.

from the book of Revelation

Sounds a little like H.P. Lovecraft - though I suppose the influence probably goes from the former to the latter. I'll assume this is merely a metaphorical description - if not, I'm in trouble - I don't think I'd like that particular heaven.

But when I think about heaven as being the most wonderful sort of place I can imagine, I end up imagining a place that would probably get boring pretty quickly. So if there is a heaven, and it is as good as they say it is, I must be mistaken in my imagining it.

I know that heaven is supposed to be so good that it's unimaginable - but it never hurts to try. So I suppose a better question would be: What would you want heaven to be like?

If you don't like heaven, feel free to replace it with "the perfect world" or something like that. What do you come up with? Personally, I've found that I encounter something of a paradox.

No sickness or death - that seems like a good place to start. But the world (and I happen to be fairly fond of it just the way it is) would be a lot different without sickness or death. Would it be better in some ways? Sure. But I'm also convinced that we would lose out on some things that I would miss.

If you can't ever get sick or die, that takes a lot of worry out of life. There are plenty of other bad things that could happen to you, but there would also be that safety base line "Well, at least I'll live." Of course, what many people consider the worse thing that could happen is the illness, injury, or death of a friend or loved one - and if those are out of the picture completely, we don't have to worry about that class of bad things.

Again, there's a lot of good that goes with this. You can quit your silly, ultimately pointless job (unless you have one you enjoy). You can spend all of your time with family and friends, enjoying each other's company, dancing, playing games, and whatever else people in this happy happy place would like to do. Great - but wouldn't that get old?

One of my personal favorite activities is getting to know people - meeting new people, and learning more about those I already know. Much of the fun in this is the diversity of people to be met. And I have to wonder, if we lived in some wonderful world with no death, sickness, etc., wouldn't that cut down on the diversity of personalities one would be likely to meet?

Maybe cutting out sickness and death isn't enough to put any severe limits on diversity of personalities - but what if we cut out depression, major sadness, turmoil, suffering, and the like? Most people wouldn't imagine these as belonging in heaven or the perfect world. Indeed, I feel inclined to agree that they don't. But then, I don't see how the lack of any majoy "bad events" could not limit the diversity of personalities you would encounter. Everyone would be more or less happy, worry-free, and generally okay... which, again, seems paradoxically wonderfully good yet also terribly boring.

My point? None, really - just the amusement of wild religious/spiritual speculation. But I'd love to know your thoughts on the matter - so feel free to use the 'Comments' section to share them.


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