If Heaven is all it’s cracked up to be, it must, by definition, be all you would want it to be and then some. It has not entered the mind of man, we have been told, what God has prepared for those of us who qualify for pie in the sky. But, as in the Club Med,or aboard “Harmony of the Seas”, it must include a wide variety of choices : a custom-made Heaven for each of us (or more accurately, for each of you).
This said, the mind begins to boggle. We are in unchartered territory here. Not even Sacred Scripture has spelled out what it’s like Up There. First off, I wonder whether any pleasures are excluded. I do wonder, for example, about those seventy-two virgins promised to Islamist suicide bombers. Islam permits polygamy, but seventy-two is stretching it a bit – and it is unlikely anyhow that marriage is involved. In fact such orgiastic behavior would hardly jive with the morality we have been told to practise on Earth. What about alcohol, drugs, S-M, LGBT and other “illicit” sources of pleasure that many would perhaps like to enjoy forever ? And what about . . . sleep ? Most of us appreciate a good night’s rest, which we absolutely need to restore the energy we need for the next day. But in Heaven there is no fatigue, no need for recuperation, no worries, not even a next day. If, during our earthly life, we never slept, a day of twenty-four hours would seem a tad long for most of us. What about an eternity of endless days with no nights ?
Nobody thinks much, if at all, about this. We know that Heaven has to involve a little more than eternal harp-playing (just listening to it for more than forty-five minutes would drive me nuts !), and telling God how great He is, either in Catholic or Protestant hymns, Gregorian chant or polyphonic oratorios . As a kid I imagined that Heaven would mean permanently available, unlimited barrels of ice-cream – even though at the time I had never heard of either Baskin-Robbins and its 31 flavors or of Ben and Jerry’s celestial calorific delights. In the late forties we had only Strawberry, Chocolate and Vanilla, but they would have been enough for a kid who had grown up with wartime rationing and no ice-cream at all.
It is a great pity that no dead person has ever taken the trouble of telling us what is in store for us when we die. I have a sneaking suspicion – to quote Thom in another context – that there is nothing at all, zilch, just the burial, decomposition or incineration of our bodies, none of which we will be in any condition to feel or know about. Let the little children dream of ice-cream, the terrorists of their seventy-two virgins and the rest of the credulous dreamers of whatever strikes their fancy. Atheists will be content to enjoy, AMAP, As Much As Possible, the life we have right now, the only one we’ll ever have.