Monday, May 21, 2007

Heaven is A Cube

When my father was dying of prostate cancer spreading to his bones, Pastor Birner, our long-time minister in the Lutheran faith, came to visit. The family gathered in our parents bedroom, where Dad lived his last days.

Birner read from the Bible, Revelations 21:16.

21:16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
A furlong is 1/8 of a mile so that would be a cube 1500 miles on a side. Heaven is a giant cube.
Now some say the Bible (especially Revelations) is not to be taken literally. But if that’s true than what about the famous Water Into Wine episode? Maybe it was just red water.

I say this Revelation is to be taken literally. A giant cube 1500 miles on a side – floating in space. Crammed with billions of souls. Not good.

I always thought heaven was all of the universe, with the souls zooming along through giant rivers of plasma, streaming from one galaxy to the next. This little cube, about the size of the western US, seems very restricting. Why would god want to wall off all the good souls in a tiny cube?

Speaking of heaven (by way of a very well written blog –
The Human Race & Other Sports)

The most recent good news from the Vatican was Pope Benedict XVI’s approval of a
Vatican report released April 20 by the International Theological Commission that said there were “serious” grounds to hope that unbaptized children might get into heaven. Prior to this report it was believed that unbaptized children went to a place called “limbo”. Theologians (none of whom, I have it on good authority, has ever visited) describe “limbo” as a place where children enjoy an eternal state of perfect natural happiness. It almost certainly has enough teeter-totters and swings for everyone as well as cotton candy, lemonade, computer games and all the other things children enjoy. According to those in the know, the only thing lacking in limbo is communion with God which in the vernacular means the children there have no adult supervision, a condition that most of the children would find very much to their liking and in many cases probably comports with their idea of heaven.

If the International Theological Commission in its continuing studies of this issue concludes that the unbaptized can go straight to heaven without passing limbo and that view becomes church doctrine, there are two obvious questions. Will the new policy be retroactive and will there be an age or geographical cutoff?

With respect to the first question, it seems likely that in the divine order of things there are a certain number of unbaptized infants who die each year and if they are now permitted to enter heaven, their entry will occur in an orderly fashion. Those presently in limbo present an entirely different problem. There are surely billions of unbaptized infants cavorting about in unsupervised perfect happiness in limbo. Although all may not want to leave their perfectly happy state, others may welcome the chance to get to heaven which, even though none of them as been able to visit it, almost certainly enjoys as good a reputation in limbo as it enjoys here on earth. If billions decide all at once that they want to go to heaven, the question is can heaven accommodate what might be described in today’s parlance as a “surge”.

The second question is whether there is an age or geographical cutoff for invocation of the dispensation. At what age does failure to be baptized become an offense that
warrants limbo or, worse yet, hell, and is there consideration of where the child is located geographically. It is a lot easier to get baptized in Manhattan than in a remote village in Tibet. Those are questions that I, being a columnist and not a theologian, cannot hope to answer. I suspect the Vatican will appoint yet another commission with an appropriate Latin moniker to study the question and make appropriate recommendations to the Pope. The children in limbo as well those still on earth will eagerly await its conclusions.

Say hello to all the new babies, Dad. I hope it isn't too crowded up there.

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