I originally composed the following on 22 September 2006 after seeing a program about Heaven presented on The History Channel. For one reason or another I didn’t post it at that time.
Last night, The History Channel had an interesting program about Heaven. They presented several different views including Judeo-Christian beliefs throughout history, ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman concepts, as well as the Islamic and Buddhist viewpoints. They even had commentary from a girl who, reportedly, has been there. She had gone into a diabetic coma for three days and she wasn’t expected to survive the first night. When she awake on the third day, she gave a detailed description. (That really sounds very New Testament, doesn’t it?)
I think the Buddhists have an interesting concept. They have about 30 different levels of Heaven and Hell. Each is temporary and depending on your karma, you spend varying amounts of time in them. To the Buddhists, Heaven and Hell are temporary states on the path to reaching Nirvana.
The was some discussion by a Muslim (I guess he was some sort of cleric) about the 72 virgins and martyrdom. He emphasized that martyrdom is a very holy concept where one sacrifices his life in defense of the faith. He considered those who strap explosives to their bodies and kill innocent people to be suicides. I agree. To sacrifice yourself for what you believe is noble but by taking your own life, you are not defending anything.
He also brought up another interesting concept. The Muslims, unlike Jews and Christians, don’t try to objectify God. To them, God is formless and infinite. To give God a form would be to limit Him. That makes sense. That God created man in His image may only mean that we are created as God “imagines” us.
There was no mention of nudity in Heaven although many of the artistic interpretations shown did display naked people. Personally, I think clothing in Heaven would be utterly useless. Maybe Heaven is a different experience for each of us but we won’t find out until we get there. As for me, I’m not in any hurry to find out; I think I’ll hang around here for as long as I can.
I found the following quote the other day:
“Actually, in the light of the Bible, there is no sin in nudity itself; but if a person uses the nudity for lustful or immoral purposes he has misused it, and this constitutes a sin. The Bible does not speak against nudity nor does it teach that the body is shameful. There is reference to shame in nudity, but this shame was produced in the mind of man, not by divine ordination.”
the Rev. Martin Wadestone, Nudism and Christianity (from Nudity in Ancient to Modern Cultures by Aileen Goodson)
Most of our ideas about sin, particularly “sins of the flesh,” seem to come from the minds of men trying to absolve their own guilt and shame rather than from scripture. The Church adopted those ideas a a means of controlling their congregations. In my humble opinion organized religion, particularly among Christian denominations, seems to be about power and wealth, not necessarily saving souls. I believe we are responsible for our own souls.
My ideas about God, Heaven, and religion are constantly evolving but I’m still pretty much in agreement with what I wrote then and I see no reason to change anything.