Wednesday, March 30, 2011

HEAVEN... or HELL???

This is an interesting sign.

HEAVEN up - and HELL down.

Contemplating this picture, I have to say that if given the choice between these two "final destinations," I would have to pick HELL... particularly if Heaven is the Mormon version...

Mormon heaven = Celestial Kingdom.

As Billy Joel said in his song, "Only the Good Die Young"...

They say there's a heaven for those who will wait,
Some say it's better but I say it ain't,
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints,
The sinners are much more fun...

I totally agree.  Heaven (or the Celestial Kingdom as coined by Joseph Smith) sounds extremely boring with a bunch of Mormons sitting around, reading scriptures.

And the procreating that would be going on.

All that polygamy and no birth control.

Way too many kids, and no Ritalin to be found.  Seriously.

Naturally, we all have preconceived notions about what Heaven is like as opposed to Hell.

HEAVEN is usually depicted as being in the clouds, serene and peaceful.  Everyone dressed in white with angels flying around. 

HELL, on the other hand, is normally pictured as a burning fire of brimstone where everyone will suffer endless torture - the Devil ever present with his pitchfork to help keep control of the masses.

It's interesting to consider different images of HELL and the way it is depicted in various forms.  One of the funniest images of HELL is from Far Side cartoons.  Here's just a few...

Some people can be happy anywhere.  This guy is apparently completely oblivious to the fact that he is in HELL.  The eternal optimist, making the best of a bad situation.  Missing the point entirely.

And the one below has always made me laugh.  Of course, part of the humor for me comes from feeling this way too many times in my life - particularly in one very long-term job I had in Los Angeles working for an abusive boss... and in one of my marriages.  Enough said. 

Of course, no one living knows what HEAVEN and HELL are really like.  One day, we will all find out if either one really exists or if they are both a figment of someone's imagination (into which a lot of people have bought).  I mean, really... when you look at life from a non-religious point of view, things really start to appear differently in many respects, and especially in regard to the purpose of life and the nature of death.  Things don't seem so ominous to me now.  And everything doesn't seem quite so serious as I was lead to believe when I was an active Mormon.

Since leaving Mormonism and organized religion behind, I now consider myself to be Agnostic and really don't know what to believe anymore.  Part of me wants to believe in God and Heaven (just not the Mormon version), and another part of me thinks that perhaps after this life is over, we all cease to exist.  Interestingly, that thought doesn't scare me at all.  For some reason, I was much more frightened and tenuous about afterlife types of questions when I was Mormon.  Probably because I always dreaded the Mormon version of Heaven - the Celestial Kingdom (one of Joseph Smith's inventions).

Here's another very funny Far side cartoon.  Gary Larsen has such an interesting view on things, doesn't he?  I've always loved his cartoons and was very disappointed when he retired in 1995.  But during his career, he produced some very funny cartoons (albeit off-beat), which were also very thought-provoking.  Depicting harps as the musical instrument of choice in Heaven, and accordions as the assigned instrument in Hell.  Very funny. 

But regardless of what our opinions are about life and death, in the end, we will all "shuffle off this mortal coil."  Of course, that term is from William Shakespeare's Hamlet, which contains the "To be or not to be" soliloquy.

William Shakespeare - To be, or not to be (from Hamlet)

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?  To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

Shakespeare offers interesting thoughts on life and the nature of death.  The last part of that soliloquy is especially thought-provoking:  "...the dread of something after death, the undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of?"  Similar to tolerating the devil we know as opposed to the devil we don't know. 

And what more can be said after Shakespeare has weighed in?
With a few Far Side cartoons thrown in for good measure...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You must not know what Mormon heaven is if you'd rather choose the other way. And you must not understand what the other way holds.