New Harmony: Everybody's got a book about heaven

Published: Thursday, Aug. 15 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Heaven is always in the news.

Last week, the author of the best-seller “Proof of Heaven” came under attack because his claim he was comatose when he was called home is now being disputed.

Heaven also made headlines in “Zealot,” the fictional biography of Jesus by Reza Aslan. There, the author — a Muslim — paints a picture of Jesus as a radical revolutionary with little or no interest in an afterlife at all.

Stay tuned for more heaven updates in the months ahead.

Personally, I suspect 99 percent of what we read about heaven is either “folk theology” (to use a popular term) or wishful thinking.

Are the streets of heaven paved with gold?

I don’t know. But I do have a friend who's convinced the restrooms there are like the restrooms at the Rio Grande cafe.

Will we live in huge mansions, or little white condominiums with no upkeep — so we can spend more time serving others?

Are all two-iron shots high and soft — as I once heard a golfer say?

Does the bluebird sing to the lemonade springs next to the Big Rock Candy Mountain?

Or, as Merle Haggard claims, will we all be “drinking free Bubble-Up and eating Rainbow Stew?”

In the book “The Last Temptation of Christ” — the source of the film everyone loves to hate — the Apostle Paul comes across Lazarus not long after he was raised from the dead.

“What’s it like?” Paul asks him. “The afterlife?”

Lazarus, still a bit stunned, looks around.

“It’s kind of like this,” he says.

That would interest me.

I wouldn't mind at all if heaven were “kind of like this.”

In the novel “Gilead” by Marianne Robinson, an old minister muses about heaven. He decides heaven is all the good things we feel here on earth, times two.

If it were much more than that, we couldn’t process it.

If heaven were any less, it wouldn’t be worth it.

So, according to the good parson, if you think about how sweet it feels to have your children hug you, then times that feeling by two, that’s what heaven is like.

Think of the serenity you feel as the night breeze brushes your face in the moonlight, or the joy at seeing a loved one return home.

Then double it.

Think of the most joyful moment in your life and times it by two.

For Robinson’s pastor, that’s our heaven.

Like all other notions, of course, that one is simply somebody’s idea of the unknowable.

But I do like it.

I think I could live a long time in a place that had doubled bliss.

I don’t need my happiness to be 10 times what it is.

Twice as much happiness would be just fine.

It might even beat living in the restrooms at the Rio Grande Cafe.

Email: jerjohn@desnews.com

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