I read some sad news today.
I was reading through the various sites when I came across this piece from Ian.
I hate hearing about the death of a pet, and in particular a dog. I tend to grieve a lot more for dogs than for humans and I think it's tragic that dogs have such a relatively short lifespan.
However, his article got me thinking on the subject of Heaven.
I am not what anyone would call a religious person. I was brought up as a Catholic and as a kid I was taught that Heaven was all clouds and harps and sitting at the foot of God staring up at him for all eternity. Even before my age reached double figures it struck me that that sounded like absolute and utter torture, akin to being permanently water boarded with no respite. It was the beginning of my downfall from Devout Catholic to Devout Agnostic and thence to Devout whatever. I don't know what I am now. I have been described as an atheist, an agnostic, a pagan, a humanist and a few other less flattering names. Basically it doesn't concern me. I live my life as I see right and if there is a god who is going to judge purely by what flavour of religion I follow then he isn't my kind of god.
Death though is a certainty and not believing in it isn't going to help very much. But what comes after?
I don't know, and nor does anyone else. Maybe there's an afterlife and maybe there isn't. The only people who can possibly tell us are those very people who can't tell us, because they're dead. The ultimate paradox.
Suppose there is an afterlife? Suppose it is what the majority of religions preach – a place of eternal happiness? This begs Ian's question – will you meet your dog in Heaven? Or is it some kind of place where there are rules about dogs?
If there is a Heaven [if there isn’t an afterlife then after I’m dead I won’t exactly worry about it] then in my book it is a very simple place to describe. It is, to all intents and purposes your idea of an ideal place. If you love dogs then your dogs will be with you. If you hate dogs then Heaven will be a dog-free zone. In other words, Heaven adapts to the individual and there are as many Heavens as there are dead people. If for some strange reason you want me to be with you in your afterlife then I will be, though I won't be aware of the fact because I'll be in my own Heaven.
Maybe I'm already there? Maybe I feature in my mother's, father's or sister's afterlife and have been with them since they died? That's fine by me and I'll probably return the favour when it's my turn.
What kind of place would it be? Well, that depends on your imagination. To me it would be the familiarity of Ireland with the climate of France with a perpetually changing landscape of mountains French villages, Irish pubs, rocky shorelines and when I get bored with any of those I invent my own perfect place. I shall live [?] there with all the people I have known and loved and that includes of course my dogs [and guinea pigs and hedgehogs]. If one of my friend’s ideal of Heaven is to live on the Arctic ice-cap then he [or she] will be there in their own Heaven while my version of them will be happy to be in my zone.
A few times I have seen people arriving at this site having asked the simple question – "Can you smoke in Heaven?". My answer is of course you can. There will be a limitless supply of the perfect baccy and your lighter will never run out of fuel or flints. There won't be the slightest worry about health because you are after all, dead. All those around you will love the scent of burning tobacco and will never raise an eyebrow when you light up.
But what about the Anti-smokers? These are the people who believe they have a moral right to be superior and are only happy when they are torturing people. Their idea of perpetual happiness is to be sticking pins in those of us who don't conform to their ideals. How can they possibly exist in a place where the rest of us don't give a damn because we are permanently in a state of bliss with not a care in the
world heaven and not an Anti-Smoker to be seen. The answer is of course that they have to have their own special place where they can live out Eternity torturing people.
I'll call that place Hell.