Thoughts on an Afterlife
I’ve been ruminating on this post for some time. I blame Stephen King.
Dan bought me King’s latest novel, Revival, for Christmas. I finished it some time ago, my first book of 2015 — and it’s good. I would recommend it if you are a King fan. Compelling story-telling, as always.
*Spoiler alert* (skip on down to the ++)
Toward the end of the book, we, of course, get what we came for: a good dose of nightmare imagery from the King of Horror. A peek into what lies on the other side of the earthly curtain.
Our protagonist is a boy when he first encounters charismatic minister Charles Daniel Jacobs. These two men are destined to encounter each other over and over again, and each is dealing with his own obsessions and demons. Finally, our protagonist, having been cured of his heroin addiction through the application of “special electricity” by our antagonist, finds himself witness to a breach into the afterlife.
And it’s horrible, a terrifying landscape of dead souls prodded through a barren valley by ant-like creatures. The sky is a void hiding “The Mother” an insectile being from the Null. This, according to King’s character, is what awaits us when we die.
No God, no peaceful afterlife, no heaven or nirvana — not even a blank void of nothingness. A version of hell awaits every person who is alive.
The depiction of this afterlife reminds me of other King novels, including Lisey’s Story and From a Cadillac 8 — neither of which I liked at all. I pretty much hated Lisey’s Story. Too fantastical for my tastes, I suppose.
And even as a work of fiction, the story fell apart for me right at the end. My suspension of disbelief couldn’t deal with this imaginary afterlife. As part of the story, it makes sense. It is crushing to Jacobs because instead of being reunited with his beloved wife and son — who have been dead for years — he has discovered that Hell awaits.
Sometimes Dan asks me if I think I will be reunited with loved ones when we die. He asks specifically if I think I will get to see Gabriel. In other words, what is heaven like? And I truly do not know; I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on it.
If I were more romantic, I would like the idea of seeing my first son. Something about that thought brings me peace.
But what I do believe is that after we die, we are reunited with God. That there is a heaven. And that regardless of how we conceive of it, we enter a world of love and light. Such that it doesn’t matter if our loved ones are there to greet us or not. That beyond this earthly plane there is no more longing, no more pain.
The infinite nature of God, or heaven, is completely beyond our comprehension. Since we can’t wrap our heads around the idea of the infinite, I think we try to give form to what may be waiting for us. We guess, we hope, maybe, we dread. King paints a picture of terror; books like Heaven Is Real paint pictures of a welcoming afterlife.
I prefer to believe in the welcoming version, the version where we are in God’s presence for the rest of eternity. Maybe that sounds glorious, or naive, or hopeful. It’s comforting to me.
Do you believe in Heaven?
ETA: It’s From a Buick 8, not a Cadillac. h/t Adam Music! (Who didn’t answer the question. Boo.)