Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Friday, May 30, 2014

An addict's paradise

Dear Hannah,

There are really only two problems with doing drugs.  The first, and most serious, is that they put you out of your right mind, which means you might do something stupid.  The second, but almost equally obnoxious problem, is that at some point you will have to stop doing them, which means that you will be miserable when you aren't.  The first would almost be tolerable, if it weren't for the second.  There are a lot of things human beings will put up with, so long as they're high; this is why drug addicts have filthy houses and eat disgusting food and have sex with all the worst people -- because they've made up for these losses by being too high to care.

The Rastafarian religion, if we're to take Bob Marley's lyrics seriously, has something to do with a God-man coming back to earth and getting everyone loaded.  This seems about the best option possible, supposing someone else is sober enough to make everyone munchies and build us free houses and run the electric plants, and nobody will do anything too stupid like riding their bike into a tree.  Supposing their divine supernanny can counteract all our blunders and treat us like babies, this kind of heaven-on-earth should work out very well.  The problem is people trying to get there before he comes back.  This is really the major problem with liberalism in general: at this moment, judging by the frequency and passion of their conversation, every young liberal thinks the most important political issues concern sodomy and marijuana, which is why almost none of them are too concerned about property rights and bearing arms and being virtuous.  In this sense, we're already implicitly Rastafarian: we would be perfectly happy having someone wipe our asses, so long as nobody can censure us for sticking whatever we want in them.

The next best religion -- or, at least, the other most exciting kind of heaven -- is the Muslim's; although I think it's much more exciting for men.  The idea of having seventy-two perfect women to play with for all eternity is very nice; but I also hear that the seventy virgins is a mistranslation, and that virgins was supposed to be either angels or white raisins.  The latter translation only proves that our archaelogists and historians aren't to be trusted: nobody would ever want to live a life of misery in the most backward countries on the planet, and possibly commit murder-suicide, and then get some raisins in return -- although if an eternity of suffering is the only other option, seventy raisins seem infinitely preferable. In this case, a reasonable man might take his raisins and then fly into a building.  I also hear there's going to be an alcohol in heaven which doesn't deprive anyone of their reason or give them a hangover, which makes me wonder why anyone would continue to drink it.  If going from drunk to sober isn't going from more pleasurable to less (which would be a kind of pain in itself), then we couldn't ever really say that drinking was ever making us feel better.  I'm also fairly certain that a good amount of people drink because drinking makes them think less.  But enough on this heaven: I guess God knows what things are better than others. 

The Christian heaven is different than both of these, in that no explicit mention was ever made of drugs or sex, although Jesus said we would be like the angels who never marry -- angels who I must remind the reader fell in love with women in the Book of Genesis, and came to earth to mate with them.  If this is the case, then promiscuous sex is a possibility, but certainly not a primary incentive.  Supposedly the streets are also paved with gold or something like it, but I think this is a metaphor for the idea that heaven is richness, but richness in what has yet to be proven.  Personally, I'd rather have a cobblestone than a golden street.  If it isn't in nuggets like gravel, gold seems like it might be slippery, especially if it rains, and I don't like the idea of being blinded every time I need to go somewhere.  I'm sure God has taken all this into account, having not only designed humans, but having been one.      

Jesus says that those who've been faithful will be given rewards in proportion to their service, and He explicitly mentions the awarding of cities.  The Saints have also been described as ruling the twelve tribes of Israel; but who these cities are populated by, and why the twelve tribes need rulers, is something which hasn't yet been explained (at least, to my knowledge).  But let's take this in combination with another point.  Peter says that all memory of past things will be wiped away, and Paul says that nobody will sin anymore; the book of Revelation says that we'll spend an eternity praising God for all the good He's done.  If we aren't praising Him for the good He'd done in our previous existence, and we aren't sinning in the present, then maybe we'll be praising Him for what He's in the process of doing.  This would suggest, at least to me, that perhaps if people are ruling and being ruled, and God is being praised for the things He's doing, that Heaven may require a healthy amount of virtue -- which means a possibility of pain and suffering, like in the Garden of Eden. Upon Adam's eviction, God said that Eve's pain would increase in childbirth, and before that Adam tended his garden.  This seems sufficient to conclude that our destination may be very like our beginning.

Anyhow, nobody can be praised for doing something when nothing needs to be done, and nothing can be done if everything is always peachy.  If this is the case, then the Christian heaven is a heaven of work and triumph and transcendence -- not of layabouts and harp players and sex addicts and junkies.  Samuel Johnson said The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope; and this takes into account the idea that our minds -- or any mind at all, really -- aren't really about receiving something indefinitely, but about acquiring things indefinitely.  A mind acts; if we were simply to be receiving pleasure, then we would be angelic organs, and we wouldn't really have transcended anything.  We would have become more like the animals, or maybe even plants.  Hindus think that reincarnation is only beneficial if you're climbing up the food chain and becoming reasonable: some Christians think that receiving a heavenly kingdom is climbing down the food chain and ending up a vegetable.

But of course, this is all speculation; I may have already acted like that man Montaigne described, who became too greedy for light, and went blind staring into the sun.  Whatever your position on heaven, make it your mission to get there.  However God decides to make it, I'm sure He'll do a good job.  But I would be wary of heavens painted too much like a horny or drunken man might have invented.  Chances are, one probably did.

Your father,

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