Today we’re talking about the concept of eternity. You know, that never-ending expanse of time that, according to many major religions, awaits us all once we shuffle off our mortal coils. Our bodies die but our immortal souls linger on forever and ever yada yada yada.
Before we get going, I want to note that for this particular piece I’d just like to consider what a positive eternal setup might look like. While it’s hard to refute that all of us deserve some sort of punishment after we die (or at least be made to perform some sort of embarrassing musical number in front of all the assembled nations, tribes and judgmental peers), I’d rather not spend time speculating on what a negative eternity might consist of. I can’t even imagine a never-ending DMV trip or traffic jam, much less with flames.
Moving forward with the ‘positive afterlife scenario’ paradigm, what will we do with all that time after we die? Christians, Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Hindus and most other religions all have different ideas of how the hereafter works. Zoroastrianism contends that the righteous will forever reign with Ahura Mazda. (sounds so peaceful and automotive!)
We have the official orthodox party lines from all these religions about what eternity will consist of and how we’ll spend our time. Most of which seem to predict various forms of idyll, worship, pleasure and ongoing paradise. Sounds pretty cool.
But how about some specifics? I have so many questions about this arrangement.
I suppose no one alive really knows exactly how it all works. What eternity looks like and consists of is one of those mysteries of the universe we’ll just have to wait on, so in the meantime let’s do what we do best here: offer up some wild speculation, outside-the-box thoughts, unsubstantiated hypotheses, and hopeful guess-ery.
Involvement with Human Affairs
If we learned anything from Angels in the Outfield (other than the fact that Tony Danza had clearly never thrown a baseball in his life previous to filming this movie), it’s that the dead have the power to exert influence over the outcomes of sporting events. I imagine this sort of thing will occupy much of our time (such as Auburn’s Chris Davis being carried on sweet angels’ wings all the way to the end zone in last year’s supernatural Iron Bowl).
Perhaps we will also be involved with the living in other ways, like Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Maybe the recently deceased are immediately given ‘helper’ or ‘guardian angel’ tasks? If this is the case, it will be interesting to see whether or not we are assigned to monitor a geographic area, specific individuals, or if we’re just supposed to be on the lookout for certain problems (i.e. bridge jumpers, weaving motorcyclists, rollerbladers with no brakes, drunk people trying to feed animals.)
Another possibility is the “Beetlejuice” (or I suppose any Tim Burton movie) route. Maybe we’ll spend our time messing with people who are doing bad things and helping out nice people as best we can?
Work, Play and Personal Enrichment
Surely there will be some down-time in eternity? Or will we always be busy?
A Christian pastor friend of mine told me once that he absolutely believes that people who go to heaven will have ‘jobs.’ He also seemed very open to the possibility of there being ample recreational activities as well. This sounds great to me.
At the risk of sounding immature/patronizing idiot, I honestly would like to know if we can expand this scenario of having celestial jobs and recreations to include interactions with animals and historical figures. Is riding a dinosaur to work out of the question? Is joining Ben Franklin on the back of a friendly triceratops on the way to work a step too far? Can I take batting practice with Babe Ruth and then have a jam session with Stevie Ray Vaughan? How about a fishing trip with Noah, Moses and Manute Bol? If so, is it only catch and release in heaven? What’s the food situation going to be?
So many questions!
Will we become master craftsmen or hone some special skill? I wouldn’t mind becoming a cosmically proficient cellist, falconer and archer.
I’d like to hope all these things are possible.
Reunions With Loved Ones
I think we can all agree that the afterlife holds the possibility of reuniting with loved ones (human and pet alike), as well as ancestors gone before us.
Of course we’re just spitballing here. Eternity might be something totally different than what we’re expecting. In fact it probably will be. It will probably be beyond anything any of us puny, microscopic humans can conjure or describe. I’m going to err on the side of hoping that it’s gonna be exciting and awesome.