A Cheap, Flannelgraph View of Heaven
I'm Ed The Protestant, and in the fall of 2021 Greg Smith (creator of Considering Catholicism) invited me to not only consider the Catholic faith, but to record our (already ongoing) conversations for his podcast. If you're a Protestant considering Catholicism, I invite you to listen and consider.
The following is just a little something light-hearted. No theology here, other than maybe just the tiniest jab at the sort of popular descriptions of heaven I've heard all my life.
An endless sea of white-robed people stands facing a platform. On the platform is a single microphone. Soft conversation drifts up from the crowd, the mood clearly jubilant, expectant. They're waiting for someone to take the platform, but they appear to be in no hurry. The air is warm, the light golden. It's the end of time, and the eternal party is about to start. God has put everything right, taken care of all business, tied up all loose ends.
Except for one.
A flash of fire, a cloud of smoke, and God is suddenly standing onstage. He knows how to make an entrance. The cheering goes on for a long time, and because God is worthy of the cheering, he's not embarrassed. Finally he motions for them to quiet down, tapping on the mic to make sure it's working.
"All right, all right, simmer down a little. Plenty of time for that later. Besides, to quote Bachman Turner Overdrive, 'You ain't seen nothin' yet'. Love that song. Anyway, I know you're all anxious to get going, so let's get started with passing out the harps, followed by cloud assignments."
A long pause, the crowd gone silent.
"That was a joke, people. Don't believe everything you heard in Sunday School."
Ten billion people exhale at once, and everyone's ears pop.
"Seriously--there are lots of fun activities in store, beginning with a little thing I like to call the 'Thousand Year Pizza Party’. For those of you who don't like pizza, I've got Swiss Steak. Before we get started, however, there's someone here who has something to say."
God looks pointedly at one man standing over to the side.
"Don't you, Adam?"
At the mention of Adam's name, the temperature of the crowd drops several degrees, the happy murmuring taking on a slightly darker tone. Adam climbs the short stairway and shuffles onstage, head down, avoiding any eye contact. He stops about four feet away from God.
God steps off to the side. Adam looks at the mic, then back to God, who nods toward the mic.
Adam stops a couple feet short of the mic, and in a tiny, barely audible voice, mumbles, "I'm sorry."
"I don't think they heard you", God says, folding his arms across his chest.
Adam moves up close to the mic and says, "I'M SORRY, OKAY?"
Forty rows back, someone shouts "Thanks a lot, apple-boy".
God steps up to the mic, puts his arm around Adam, and says, "Easy, now. Remember what we've all learned about forgiveness? I want you to treat Adam just like you'd treat anyone else." He slaps Adam on the back, and with a little smile, says, "Thank you Adam. You can go now."
As Adam walks off we see a 'KICK ME' sign stuck to his back.