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How Long Before Heaven Gets Boring?

Patheos.com — July 18, 2017:  All mammals habituate to pleasure. No matter how much I love Rum Raisin ice–cream, after two tubs, the thought of it makes me want to throw up. In subsequent, time–spaced, binges, addicts need more and more of their drug–of–choice to reach the same level of a “high.” It’s literally wired into our neurotransmitters. The only two counter examples that I can think of are, dogs who want to play throw–and–fetch, and two–year–old humans who cry, “Do it again! Do it again!!”

Even the dictator basking in the adulation of the sycophants needs to raise the accolade–bar higher and higher. There is a story told about Stalin that, after he had finished speeches to his inner circle, he expected longer and longer standing ovations; and each “clapper” was afraid to be the first person to sit down lest he be executed for disrespecting the leader.

Closely related to the pleasure principle is the almost ecstatic relief we feel when a painful situation has finally ended: the toothache that almost drove me crazy is fixed; or the war that ravaged nations and led to horrific loss of life finally culminates in V-day celebrations.

And yet, on the other side of the coin, we have very short memories when it comes to personal or societal pain. Otherwise how could a mother look forward eagerly to getting pregnant again? Or how could we vote for a party that we had dumped, for corruption and ineptitude, two elections ago? Or how can we be persuaded to enthusiastically embrace the next “war to end all wars.”?

Which brings me to heaven — the idea, I mean, not the state/place. After some 1,000 years of waking up daily to blue skies, a warm shower, Rice Crispies and half–and–half, how does it feel to have to, once again, grab your harp or harmonica or banjo and music sheets, rush to the Aula Maxima, find your assigned spot amongst the infinite number of concentric circles of plush seats, ringed around the long–bearded old man in the center, seated between a good–looking 33–year–old with holes in his wrists and feet, on one side, and, on the other side, a large white dove?

Isn’t it beginning to get a little bit boring? Just a tad? But you can’t mention it to anybody because it seems sinful. So, boring and all as it may be, you try desperately not to think about the long, long, interminably–eternal future that stretches out ahead, because the alternative is worse: getting kicked out for ingratitude; and being sent down below where the sun don’t never shine, you get blistering hot showers, you feed on lumpy porridge and sour milk, the musical instruments are all out of tune and, in place of the conductor and his baton, are ushers with pitchforks. So, you grin and bear it.

If heaven, then, is about Love, it can’t be about routine. Perhaps the subtlest form of love is creativity, the ability to bring into being that which is not — the talent to imagine, with such focus, that your dreams get enfleshed. Maybe we get better and better at this over “time.” So, good, in fact, that advanced souls create entire universes “peopled” with heretofore non–existent life forms and events. Was St. Paul onto this when he said, “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the human heart, what things God has prepared for those who love Him.”?

What if this doesn’t just mean that God is saying to each and every soul upon death, “Come on up here; look what I’ve created for you!” and then gives you a grand tour of all of His pre–existing wonders for you to play with? What if the greatest gift of God’s Love is to bestow on us the very ability to create, in Love?

So, now, newly–arrived soul, what are you going to create? Will your world look like planet Earth? Or your cosmos be similar to this universe? Will you be content with simply re–creating what you remember from here? Or will you break out and birth that which has never before been imagined?

Will there be creatures in your dream? And how will they resemble or differ from Gaia’s children? Will they be automatons, pre–programmed to act as the code dictates? Or will you risk giving them free will? Horribile visu, would you allow them to disobey you? What if disobedience and “evil” were part of the training wheels needed in order for these “children” of yours to, finally, become like you — an unconditionally–loving creator? Would you have the patience or perspicacity to allow for that?

Oh, one final question: is it possible that this here cosmos of ours is the work of such a student–soul, lovingly working elsewhere, under God’s serene gaze?

Namasté,

Seán

Fr. Seán ÓLaoire, PhD

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