By MORAK OGUNTADE
WHEN you lose your faith your allowance to go through rituals becomes an unnecessary ticket to join in communal time wasting.
What’s heaven going to be like? Don’t say it can’t be imagined because that’s just being silly. We can imagine anything, why we have a mind. So let us try and visualize individuals first. Will old people be young looking? People who died very old who used to look at photos of their younger self may not prefer to spend eternity sporting deep wrinkles.
Little children who lost their lives will be what teens? Disabled people will be healed? What about a person who was cared for till they died—learning difficulty, autism or down syndrome for example—will they become clever as brain surgeons in heaven? Most could not make decisions when they were on earth, perhaps will now probably be great chess players.
Will there be plenty of virgins for Islamic terrorists and murderers in the name of Allah, if so where are they coming from?
When you confront a believer with that question they say God can do anything. So yes, you’ll have your quota of pale skin, big bosomed belly dancer blonde and brunettes once you get the stamp of approval. But wait, isn’t that idea just what a Middle Eastern man would consider heaven? He lives in the near desert arid region and the most pleasant position he’d wish to find himself would be just that. What about a person who’s idea of eternal bliss would be something else?
Sayan ancient South America Indian who’d thought heaven was just like the jungle he’d lived all his life only this time the animals would be easier to catch and there’d be no nasty parts to dispose of before preparing it for a meal? Would clergy still have to shout in microphones in front of audiences to talk about God? That would really be strange because they’d have been sitting next to you now in the congregation. Will they feel superior? Would you still have to go through them to chat to God? Would the angels take over this role?
Please don’t tell me not to question this. I am a thinking man. I was equipped with a brain that’s never ending in its questioning. It cannot be helped. If God created me with that brain then he must expect me to be inquisitive. Would it be reasonable to condemn me for asking?
I think not. So back in the second century there was a general picture of heaven—Glory Glory Halleluiah, trumpets long robes white wings, temple—like monuments bright little baby angels carrying harps, airy cathedrals with glittering stain glasses? These images are just reflections of what the Greek and Italian painters put on walls and ceilings and some of them from Hollywood movies.
These days, however, some people’s views of what constitute heavenly state are different. We now have a heaven with high powered home or outdoor entertainment—like structural massive speakers, 3D holographic equipment. High definition broadcasting and viewing have been installed to keep the heavenly population continually mesmerized by God’s glory forever.
So in the next 150 years when ugly people can afford to get facial surgery on the cheap, there’ll be pills to restore age-related hair loss, we can wear glasses that’ll deliver CNN and MTV to our inner vision due to chips in our retinas. In short when technological advancement has gone beyond what we can postulate now, then we can expect that heaven would probably take on a definition with which we cannot recognize today.
Visions of meeting up with long dead individuals in heaven for many include these people wearing clothes. Cotton material may hold out better and survive death as opposed to leather. It is worth thinking about.
Then there’re those who claim there would be no such thing. Everyone would be in spirit form. They will be one with God and be able to see his face. Souls will be able to drift in space and float to the ends of the universe just by wishing so. Galaxies and solar systems would be the playground of spirits that used to be bound to earth by flesh. Whoever seriously considers this to be the eternal activity of his soul as reward for a life of piousness is a person who probably never does any serious thinking. This contrast with those who say it would be just another earth only much more improved. Some even say it exists in layers or levels. That can only be reasoned in terms of the grade between the very rural residential areas up to the most urban.
There is no heaven. It cannot be imagined even by the most fertile mind. I have this sneaky feeling that every adult who can open his/her mouth to describe heaven knows that they’re talking nonsense. They’re just playing the game everyone else is playing.
Heaven is a man-made construct stationed in the realms of imagination. A place that helps many people deal devastating proposition that life sometimes comes to an abrupt end for everyone. It is comforting to be told that the precious life just appears to stop here—it in fact continues elsewhere—in heaven.
This poorly thought out fictional eternal life will rub you of purpose. So why not make the most of it while you still have it. You know it is very fleeting indeed. I find the draconian faith-based regimes that hold men in imaginary for the duration of their lives very sad indeed.
*Mr. Ogunyade wrote in from Lagos.