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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Resisting Heaven

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Atheist Michael Shermer insists that a good percentage of people believe in God because such belief is "is comforting, relieving, consoling, and gives meaning and purpose to life" (source).

That doesn't work for me.

I can't help but believe in God, and I don't find the belief comforting. I find it challenging, and, at times, enraging.

"Where was God?" I demand, along with everyone else, when I contemplate the latest atrocity.

I think of the decade of prayers offered up by Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight, and Gina DeJesus, the women held captive in Ohio.

"Where were you?" I ask the God in whom I do believe.

My not-comforting, love-hate relationship with God has hit a new low, lately. I've been realizing that I don't want to go to Heaven. Or, at least, I've been realizing that I dread one motif that near death experiencers talk about.

There are those who have died, gone to the afterlife, and come back. Two famous recent near death experiencers are
Anita Moorjani and Eben Alexander. You can read many near death experiences here.

One of the motifs of near death experiences is a feeling of profound understanding combined with profound love. Experiencers report that spiritual guides – or maybe God himself – reveal big truths to them, and everything makes sense. Oh, they realize, that is why I had to undergo those events that I thought were pointless. Oh, they realize, that person whom I had thought was my enemy was really my ally and teacher. Oh, they realize. All the chaos and suffering of life make sense!

In his book "Walking in the Garden of Souls," medium George Anderson wrote about a young man named Jeff Patterson.

When he was a high school student, Jeff was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Jeff received a bone marrow transplant. Jeff's body did not receive the transplant well. He experienced graft-versus-host condition. Jeff's skin began to disintegrate. Doctors tried to cover his raw flesh up with pig skin. Jeff screamed with constant pain. Jeff died anyway.

George Anderson made contact with Jeff's soul in the afterlife. Jeff reported that the spiritual growth he had attained going through these painful experiences was so valuable that if he had to, he would come back to earth and undergo that agony all over again.

There is a similar account of a person in pain dying and receiving great wisdom
at the NDERF site. Anthony, a young orphan living a loveless life, kicked from one foster home to another, attempted suicide. He went to heaven and met God. God comforted him and explained to him that he had to go back to his earthly life.

Lately, I've been dealing with so much, I just dread that "Aha! Everything makes sense and it's all about love!" experience.

It begins to feel like that moment when everyone around you is laughing at a joke that you don't get, and, to be kind, they later explain it to you. Even with the explanation, it can still feel uncomfortable.

I just can't stand the thought of walking through those pearly gates and meeting happy God and saints and deceased family members, and hearing them say to me, "Ya know, all those hours that you spent alone wrestling with poverty and disease and the suffering of loved ones, we were up here laughing and smiling and slapping each other on the back and giving each other the high five, because we knew that all that you were trodding through was really all for the best."

The other day I stumbled upon a magnificent photograph of a great horned owl in flight. My instantaneous reaction was, "THAT. That is what I want. If I can encounter that in Heaven, I am willing to go."

What was that? What did I see in the photo? Reason, power, elegance. Rationality. Purpose. Design. Beauty. Poetry in muscle.

Right now, as miserable as I feel, I'd go to that heaven. Gladly.

Diane Chenault Source

8 comments:

  1. Danusha, you are quite right. Why would we want to go to heaven? We were made, we are made, to live on the earth. And Jesus said that the meek would inherit "the earth". If he had meant heaven, wouldn't he have said so?

    And when Jesus said that, he was simply confirming the promises in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, Psalm 37:29 says: "The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it."

    Our hope is to reside forever upon the earth.

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  2. You also rightly draw attention to this: "George Anderson made contact with Jeff's soul in the afterlife. Jeff reported that the spiritual growth he had attained going through these painful experiences was so valuable that if he had to, he would come back to earth and undergo that agony all over again."

    What would you think of a parent who taught his children by torturing them?!

    Not a lot, I would imagine.

    God is love. He is not a torturer.

    Isn't this why He warns us many times against spiritism, against attempts to contact the dead?

    We can be seriously misled if we do so.

    The Inspired Scriptures assure us that the dead "are conscious of nothing at all"

    Eccl. 9:5: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.”

    Ps. 146:4: “His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.”

    How can they communicate with us if they have no more thoughts and no feelings?

    They sleep the dreamless sleep of death, safe in "the everlasting arms", awaiting the time that their Creator will wake them from their sleep. And when He does, they will open their eyes into an earth more beautiful then they knew it could be - an earth ruled by the law of loving-kindness.

    Isn't that why we pray for God's will to be done upon the earth? We long for that time to come.

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  3. Magdalena Paśnikowska 7:31am Aug 18

    I dreamt once that I was in Hell. Actual, physically existing Hell, flames and torture and all.

    Of course, I struggled with all my might to get out of there as quickly as possible. There was no obvious way out - at all.

    Finally, I gave up, stopped trying to escape, and just walked on and on and on - through Hell, into deepest darkness and despair. And then I came to a door, and the door opened and I came out on the other side.

    I know it sounds super corny, but I even had a voice say in my head "there is no other way out of hell than by walking to the very ends of hell". Might have been the only really significant dream that I ever had.

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    1. Hello Magdalena, that is a very interesting dream, because the book of Revelation tells us that all who are in hell ("Hades") will be woken from the sleep of death and wake up to find themselves right here on the earth, but on an earth ruled by the Kingdom of God, an earth restored to Paradise.

      "And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Ha′des gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds." - Revelation 20:13

      The will wake up from the dreamless sleep of death, and find themselves in the wonderful day of judgement, the Millenial reign of Jesus and the saints.

      At the end of the thousand years, obedient mankind will have been restored to perfection, and the earth to the Paradise it was always meant to be. If we are there then, and I hope we are! life "to time indefinite" will be stretching before us, and more happiness than we can now imagine.

      It is so sad that hell has been pictured as a place of torment, when it is simply the ground, the grave, where the dead sleep in complete unconsciousness awaiting a resurrection.

      And hasn't the Day of Judgement often been portrayed as something terrifying? Yet, according to the Inspired Scriptures, it is something wonderful, something to long for.

      "Yes, for the path of your judgments, O Jehovah, we have hoped in you. For your name and for your memorial the desire of the soul has been.  With my soul I have desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me I keep looking for you; because, when there are judgments from you for the earth, righteousness is what the inhabitants of the productive land will certainly learn." -Isaiah 26:8,9


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  4. "what would you think of a person who taught his children by torturing them?"

    Say what?

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  5. Hello Liron. I was referring to the view that God teaches us through suffering. Danusha had quoted this in her blog article: "George Anderson made contact with Jeff's soul in the afterlife. Jeff reported that the spiritual growth he had attained going through these painful experiences was so valuable that if he had to, he would come back to earth and undergo that agony all over again."

    That quote made it sound not only as if you could make contact with the dead - something the God of Abraham expressly forbids - but seemed to me - and I thought (rightly or wrongly) to Danusha - as if this poor guy was saying that his suffering was given to teach him a lesson.

    So I asked what caring parent would try to teach their children by putting them through a lot of pain and torment. Wouldn't you teach your children gently and lovingly?

    The earth was meant to be Paradise and our lives full of joy. We are living with the awful consequences of what our first parents did. But a rescue is so close at hand. That is what we are trying and trying to tell you as we go door to door.

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  6. "I just can't stand the thought of walking through those pearly gates and meeting happy God and saints and deceased family members, and hearing them say to me, "Ya know, all those hours that you spent alone wrestling with poverty and disease and the suffering of loved ones, we were up here laughing and smiling and slapping each other on the back and giving each other the high five, because we knew that all that you were trodding through was really all for the best.""

    :nod: That's the same feeling that is the point of /Candide/. From the musical version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPClzIsYxvA

    (I've never actually seen the musical, I've only read the book, but I hear the musical is good. Personally, when it comes to Newton vs. Leibniz on calculus, I side with Leibniz. But when it comes to Voltaire vs. Leibniz...I disagree with Leibniz's "this is the best of all possible worlds" argument.)

    Musical's version of the conclusion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlVD-jrq_Yk

    "Let's stop worrying about the meaning of life and just try to help each other out."

    Not sure I completely agree...but who says we're required to have a fully thought out and dogmatically defended position on everything?

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    1. Alison, I love Candide. It's one of the very few books I remember reading in more or less one sitting. I'm usually a slow reader.

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