Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Eternal Torment, Bliss, or Oblivion?

How often do you contemplate your own mortality? How often do you consider your fate beyond death? I find myself thinking on these things fairly frequently, especially since I am now most likely closer to my death than I am to my birth. I'd have to live past the age of 109 for this not to be true.

The idea of dying and passing into eternal oblivion doesn't hold much appeal. Of course, if the alternative is passing into a place of eternal torment, I will take oblivion any day of the week. Yet, still, the idea of "going to sleep" to never awaken again seems in some ways totally bizarre. I have on a number of occasions been laying back in my recliner and, just as I a reach that transition state between consciousness and unconsciousness, have the reality of eternal oblivion hit me. I normally awake with a sinking feeling and the word "absurd" stuck in my mind. But when I think about it rationally, I realize that my state of being before I was conceived was not at all scary. If that is the state I will ultimately return to, it should be no more scary. Basically, eternal unconsciousness is only troublesome to us while we are conscious. Once we reach that eternal state of unconsciousness, no worries!

On the other hand, the idea of passing into a state of eternal bliss is a bit troublesome also. Again, not if the only alternative is eternal torment. Think about existing forever. What would you do? How could anyone possibly occupy all that time without getting bored stiff. After having done everything there is to do a thousand times or more, I think I would at least be ready for a nap. I am reminded of the movie Groundhog Day. In it, Bill Murray keeps repeating February 2 over and over and over again. The implication is that he repeats it hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. Eventually, he gets so bored, he begins to commit suicide only to wake up again on the morning of February 2. Of course, many people believe that those people going to heaven will spend eternity praising God. No disrespect to my Creator, but that sounds boring to me. As much as I enjoy the singing at church, after about 20-30 minutes I am ready to move on to the sermon. And then after 20-30 minutes of the sermon I am ready for lunch. Now lunch I can handle for quite some time, but my stomach refuses to cooperate. The point is that I thrive on diversity. Hey, with as many nearby restaurants as we have, my wife and I still sometimes become bored with them all and wish for something new.

We humans also tend to enjoy overcoming obstacles to reach goals in this life. Will it be the same in heaven, or will we be more like automatons mindlessly being subservient to our maker? I would hope for the former, how about you?

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