Friday, April 15, 2011

Heavens to Betsy

With all the hell talk spreading like wildfire arcross the Christian landscape I can't help but wonder if we'll eventually get around to discussing that other otherworldly realm: heaven. Does this magical land of milk and honey really exist and if so what is it like?
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
What a powerful and comforting image. Yet beyond the simple beauty of this message I stumble on several large obstacles: how can heaven be a place without sorrow if it is reserved for a select few? Can mothers abandon their wayward children and mourn them no more? Will husbands forget their fallen wives? Is everyone so drunk on God's love that they can no longer hear the painful cries of those left behind?

I also wonder what becomes of our individual identities when we enter heaven. Are we made perfect? Do we receive a total makeover of body and soul? (Wouldn't that mean we lose all freewill when we enter the Kingdom of God?) Obviously heaven is not the kind of place one expects to find ordinary sinful creatures like ourselves. Will I still be me if God strips all that stuff away?


Sandra said...

I actually gave up on a belief in Christian Heaven before giving up a belief in Hell. The descriptions of Heaven I heard in church growing up sounded so boring and dreary I thought at least Hell should be interesting--after all Satan is always trying to entice you into there, right?

Mike Beidler said...


Discovered your blog via Looking forward to reading about your own theological journey.

Regarding the post at hand, what would you think if I told you that the verse you quoted has absolutely NOTHING to do with heaven? Intrigued?

Michelle said...

Sandra, who was it that said, "Heaven for the climate; Hell for the company!"?

Mike, I am intrigued. Can you offer me any more insights into this? What IS this verse refering to?

jss said...

I love your questions. I've asked them a hundred times myself. The fundamental/evangelical Christian viewpoint of who goes to heaven is so myopic as to be absurd. One day all of the 'chosen' will be whisked away to heaven while the rest of us heathens will be Left Behind (as the series goes). Ridiculous. It is a tale told by an idiot.

Since we're asking the hard questions lets go to the question of evil next. That's another fun one. That naughty old devil, skulking around trying to turn good people bad. Watch out, he'll even disguise himself as Jesus and if you're not careful you won't recognize him.

By the way reading Jungian psychology won't actually clear anything up but I can practically guarantee it will expand your spiritual landscape and open up a whole new world of questions for you.

Michelle said...

JSS, the question of evil is a topic is waiting for its own blog post! It's another issue that cannot be reduced to black-or-white terms.

Since I took a few psych intro courses and my ex-husband was studying his Masters of psychology I'm somewhat familiar with Jung's stuff: the archetypes, the shadow, the collective unconscious... but just general definitions not a cohesive theory or picture of how it all works. Something just feels "right" about Jung though. I'm ready to go deeper!

Sandra said...

I have a BA in psych from the 80s. Behaviorism was in its heyday then so all the analytical psychologists got rather short shrift in my education. But I've found Jung appealing every time I run across references to his work, theories, life. I'm going to have to dig into it deeper, I think. Off to Amazon.

Michelle said...

Sandra, I'd love to dig into your bedside library!

Sandra said...

The best of my recent (last couple years) reading is linked in the widget on my sidebar. I'm thinking about adding something where I can post what I am currently reading--even if it doesn't make it to the widget as something worth re-reading--but I haven't found a suitable widget yet.

Like a Child said...

These questions about election and heaven set the stage for the journey which i am on. I have found it helpful to read the more progressive christian blogs to realize that indeed i am not alone and calvinism/election is not as widespread as i thought, nor is it the "correct" version that one must embrace. Oddly enough, i haven't really questioned heaven much more than that. I hang on to my childhood visions of heaven while discarding my childhood notions of hell.

Michelle said...

LAC, I agree, reading progressive blogs/books and listening to progressive speakers has made me feel much more "okay" on this journey.

I had never even heard of calvinism/election during my formative church years so I didn't have to "undo" that programming. I find it a fascinating topic though.