I guess it began while I was watching a ‘Great “Courses’ series on the common man of ancient Egypt. While certain people held the gods, both Heavenly and domestic, in the highest reverence, often sacrificing a large percentage of their paltry income to the pacification, solace, and benevolence of said deities, there were others, the tomb robbers, who seemed to poo-poo the whole religious thing.
So successful were they in their pilferage, no tomb from the pyramids to the funery constructions at Kings’ Valley Five – went un-looted [except for that of Ramses the Second.] Said tombs, allegedly thief-proof, have been called the largest security failure of all the ages. King Tut’s digs [no pun intended] were apparently the one other exception.
Though the penalty for being caught often included impaling – a most distasteful and lingering way to die – it did not deter the thieves. These men feared neither the local constabulary, nor the gods which ‘protected’ the tombs.
And for some reason that got me to thinking about the afterlife. Bear with me, this is not a seamless connection of two thoughts.
I once saw a ‘Twilight Zone’ half-hour which I thought was very insightful. A gangster, un-principled even by the standards of his colleagues, was shot to death during a crime. Crossing to the other side, he found himself in a posh apartment accompanied by a butler dressed in all-white street clothes. The place could not have been more to his liking. Beautiful women abounded, his liquor cabinet never wanting; turn on the TV? One of his favorite shows 24 hours a day. He also gambled: ponies, poker and pool; and he never lost, not once.
Then a strange thing happened: he grew bored with everything that had once amused him. In desperation, he turned to his butler and said, “I’m sick of this place! I want to the other place!”
“You mean Hell?”
The butler smiled and began to glow. “Why, sir, you’re already there!”
So it turns out, for this individual at least, the punishment of his eternal damnation would consist of being bored forever. A subtle extraction that.
A thorough grounding in Human nature, it seems to me, would lead us to suppose equally boring, equally punishing would be multiple virgins, and singing praises all the day long. It would be the painful equivalent of grape jelly and peanut butter sandwiches three times a day… forever [although for this thought I lack scriptural advocacy]; we need challenge, growth, set-backs, learning, and the like.
Are we already in an after-life? Perhaps Heaven is multi-tiered; not merely a two-level affair: Heaven and Earth; and who is to gain-say this thought with authority? Perhaps it’s Heaven which has various dimensions. I mean, I don’t remember my infancy, but having reached my present level of decrepit maturity, I assume I must have had one. [I’ve got pictures of wee Gahv.] I don’t remember a previous life, but does that confirm I never had one, or two, or more? As Heaven goes, to me, the one I’m in suits me fine: I can grow, suffer, and thereby learn.
There’s an old Negro Spiritual in which a laborer, facing death, has a conversation with God. “Once I get to Heaven, Lord, if all I’m gonna do is sit around playin’ my harp, flutterin’ my wings and such, well, then, count me out. I’m a workin’ man, Lord, and a good’n too. Please send me to a place where there’s jobs need doing. I can serve You best there.
Pretty shrewd fellow.
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