Heaven & Hell

Seasoned metaphors for alternate universes

I say uncommon things. Sometimes I use uncommon metaphors. The culture uses all too common dodges to deflect what I say from fertilizing the common mind.
I define my terms, saboteurs ignore the definitions. Oh well: the Temple scuttled its own laws to prevent what Jesus said from changing anything. The Christ sterilizers still rule: not for much longer, but still.

K. had many pk scribbles in its Heaven / Hell menu. I jot an idea from yesterday 2012 02 19:

“Hell” is being saturated with lies that no longer work;
Heaven is wall to wall lies that don’t need to work, because the saved are immune to them.

Naturally, today’s earth, like yesterday’s, is choking with the damned, denizens of hell, immune to learning: but there are a few blesseds: helpless among them.
Now I see that the old material said very much the “same” thing.

2006 01 10 Can any two people have the same ideal of heaven? Even if they believe in one God, one Bible, one translation, one original …? Can any one person believe in the same heaven at time2 that he believed in at time1? Those questions actually are not very different from similar questions asked about belief in God, period. Is God the same god at time0, time1, time2 …?

What I want to say something quick about is my heaventoday. Whatever I thought heaven was when I was a kid, when I was thirty, what I thought yesterday, gets shoved aside by today’s thought.

I recently recollected C. S. Lewis declaring heaven to be the sight of God, hell to be the lack of the sight of God, all other views mere superstitious rubbish. But my heaven today would be not the sight of God, but the sight of all gods, all evidence, and some god proving to you and me and to all other gods, nobody bound and gagged, helpless in the dungeon, helpless to object, to counter with flaws, that any one thing is true, then that some second thing is true …

AND the god must then swear before all that if any fallacy is EVER found with any item of his proof that he can be punished forever, that he is somehow bonded against failure, that if he is wrong all victims of his mistakes can be compensated to THEIR satisfaction.

I want to see some god reveal the whole cosmos, all universes, including all alternate universes. I want this god to show Eve’s contemporaries on earth that Eve was the mother of humans for the next one hundred fifty thousand years and counting, that they failed to breed the future but that she succeeded. I want her contemporaries to see their shortcomings compared to her. Then I want all other planets which evolved sentient life to show how their Eves fared in comparable circumstances. Maybe Eve bred on earth, took over the gene pool, but failed to breed on Aldaberan, or at least failed to take over.

Heaven would be seeing a planet on which Jesus wasn’t crucified, but rather supported in establishing the kingdom of God: or whatever it was that Jesus would have done had he succeeded. I’d like this god to show that Jesus was unique; or that he appeared again and again: just on earth. Maybe Jesus was crucified or otherwise tortured and executed many times and only once got written about. Maybe Jesus among certain cannibals never got as far as the Sermon on the Mount. Maybe they had no mount in the jungles of Warabey on Bezeltreen.

image borrowed from PhotoBucket

I would like this god to show whether Jesus was this or that, or more than one thing. Then do the same with Buddha, with Newton …

I would like this god to replace belief — 100% — with knowledge.

Or, I would like the god to show that knowledge is impossible. If so, then I’d like the god to show whether belief can be worth anything.

THAT would be heaven.

These “proofs” I imagine: would they have to be centralized?

I suspect that I wouldn’t hate all things centralized if things centralized weren’t the default preference for our culture. Centralized management is fine: for some things, some times. The horror comes with it’s being automatic.

2013 12 18 And always there’s that problem that won’t go away: if knowledge is impossible, how does the god show us anything? How would we know whether the god was telling the truth? Only by us men judging the god! So: what it comes down to, once again, is coercion! The god clobbers us, that makes the god right.

Mission: to make man responsible for hell

The concept of hell is not exclusive to Christianity. But Christianity has made the concept the most vivid.

No? The Japanese have graphic depictions of a hell. In the movie, Nuske tells the Yojimbo that he’ll see him in hell. I’ve told people that I’ll see them there: and I have never really believed in hell. It’s a vivid image anyway. I always certainly meant it to be. pk has seldom shied away from metaphors that he doesn’t strictly believe in. Today I want to take a fresh view of hell.

Christianity typically blames hell on the devil. The Devil. Satan. Lucifer. The fallen angel. The Morning Star. The Mourning Star.

If God created everything, if God controls everything, shouldn’t we blame everything blamable on God?

Not me. I want to blame hell on man.

Here’s how. Sometime, when we’re all dead, when we’ve failed to adapt to our environment, when we’ve changed our environment so radically that even adaptable us can no longer live there, I like to believe that somehow we’ll still have a fragment of consciousness: like the light doesn’t always go off altogether the second the electricity stops. In that moment, God (god) won’t have to judge us: we’ll judge ourselves.

And that will be hell enough.

We failed. We needed air, water … freedom, honesty … a true assessment of our condition … and we filled everything with bullshit instead.

But we won’t accept it; we’ll deny it. Always denial. Even in extinction. And flames will be our final illusion: flames that cover consciousness.

2005 12 19

In the Twentieth Century Christianity had one striking spokesman among English dons: CS Lewis (in fact a big deal Hollywood fantasy based on his children’s fantasies just opened in theaters). CS Lewis said in no uncertain terms that heaven was the privilege, earned, of seeing God; hell was the failure, earned, to qualify: all other beliefs were superstitious balderdash. I agree with him there, except as we must allow for freedom of metaphor. And I like his stark Either / Or simplification: and I shall adopt it: here, right now, evolving it into better sense.

Heaven is the ability to learn new patterns in new circumstances;

Hell is old habits that no longer serve.

Jesus got his skin flayed off him, then got nailed on a cross. But he was already in heaven. Those who got him scourged and crucified already were and still are in hell. In heaven Jesus had a vision of how we could live better together. His tormentors saw that his vision threatened their bad habits. They were right: and we still have the bad habits: not knowing when to cooperate and when to compete, not knowing when to push and when to yield, worshipping greed, deifying bullies, not taking time to smell the grass …

Every devil in hell was taught as a child that Jesus would save them.

See my module on Learning: Hard Learning, Soft Learning in my Thinking Tools section: learning0, learning1,learning2

2006 09 02

I saw a trailer for a movie, at least part of one. Rosie O’Donnell was dressed as a nun. She headed a class of children: all similar ages, the two genders, but of varied ethnicity. The children looked fearful. Rosie nun, her voice riding more smoothly with duress than another’s voice might have, was assuring the children, “Nobody is going to hell.” What had she told them last time? What had all of the nuns told the kids last time? and the priests, and the whole church? for centuries and centuries?

Well, we live in a world. We know that world to some extent, so we know the answer, with a fair degree of probability: the nun had been telling the children that every human has a soul and that the soul of every human not baptised by the One True Church, of the One True God, was going to suffer hell fire forever.

In another circumstance a Rosie nun of that same One True Church might have been telling the same thing to a class exclusively twelve years of age and exclusively boys. In another time the class might have been exclusively girls. In still anther age, no nun, Rosy or not, would have been allowed to address any boy older than six.

In another circumstance the population of the class, whether eight or ten, whatever the gender, would have been exclusively Italian. or French. Or specifically Northern Italian. In Milan. Or Provence.

Whatever the ethnicity, or age, or gender, of either the students or the religious heading the class, functionaries of the Church, this One and that One, of this True God, and of that True God, having been telling children, boys and girls, of all ages, that everyone not in that immediate circle of baptised is going to hell. Forever.

When I was a kid there was no damn Rosie nun. But my Mr. Dade assured us boys, sitting in a room labeled Presbyterian, that everyone not in Grace was going to hell: and that there were no Catholics in Grace.

Now why was this Rosy O’Donnell nun in this trailer for this movie suddenly backing off from what had obviously been hammered at the kids as gospel? (The Catholic Church has a long history, going back to the 300s, of enthroning this gospel and chopping up that one.) To me the answer is obvious: because there was no solid ethnic majority in the class. There were kids there from groups that other groups had been assured were 100% damned.

Psst! Notice. The Church claims that its God will do the damning, or at least that its God will let Satan have them (everything, even what Satan succeeds with, being up to God), but the faithful never hear God say it. The faithful never heard the God say anything. All the words are from the mouth of a priest. But back to the main point here: ethnicity.

The kids believe the nun: at first. At first, the nun, the church, has authority. And that authority is safest if the subject being dictated about is far away, very far. There’s a difference between Herodotus telling Greeks about a race of men with heads growing beneath their shoulders that live on the other side of the world than if he says they’re just across the bay: and then his audience winds up trading across the bay. Where are the people with their heads in their chest? It’s one thing to tell Florentines that all black Africans blow fire from their ass and another to make similar claims about Genoans. And once everybody is having breakfast in New York and lunch in Paris and watching the rocket to the moon by supper time, then you’d better not tell any such stories to anybody.

Notice again, doubly now that I’ve clarified my intended context, Churches have never told tall tales about home; the tall tales are always over the horizon.

Here be dragons.

Ethnic Hedges

Churches never tell about heaven or hell as on this side of the hedge. Heaven and hell are always on the side of the hedge you can’t see, can’t visit, can’t hear from: except from the Rosy nun.

I’ve already told elsewhere how I’d been told ghastly things about Jews as a kid. In the seventh grade I learned something the Sunday school teacher may still not have known: there were Jews all around us! Half the people we knew (or at least would soon meet, once the class from this grammar school was shuffled with the class from that grammar school into one big junior high school class, were Jews! Maybe no in your town, but for sure in mine.

I’d heard that Jews had cloven hoofs. Then one day Dorothy, whom I’d known for years, and now knew up close, including now with her blouse off and her hand in my pants, tells me that she’s Jewish. I paled. I reeled. I nearly lost my balance. But then I realized, then it was clear as clear: I didn’t know what a cloven hoof was, But I was sure that Dorothy didn’t have one. I knew what a hoof was: and Dorothy had feet!

Chaucer’s English were very good at telling tales about the horrible Jews in the horrible ghetto. But Chaucer and his English had never seen a Jew, had never seen a ghetto. There were no Jewish ghettos in London. (And no Jews that I know of. None.)

Slave owners told their children tales about their slaves but also never let the children mix with the slaves, let alone study them. Even so, their distanced experience was further distanced by the self-protection of reluctant testing. If your identity depends on believing that your slaves are stupid, or subhuman, or have half moons for cuticles, or that they dance naked on All Souls Night, never mind who let them out of the slave pen, you won’t be too anxious to test your believes against experience.

That’s the problem that authorities always have eventually. That hedge that had seemed so far away last year is creeping ever closer.

PS I also get a kick out of how Christianity starts with dogma about Original Sin, everybody’s a sinner, everybody’s naturally damned, and then flip flops that into Everybody in this room is saved: thanks to the magic of our very special priests. For the One and Only God.

Heaven & Hell

In contrast to the bulk of my half-century plus of writing, Knatz.com to date has very little exposition about heaven and hell. Judgment comes up a few times, but those uses are anemic compared to my fiction and my notebooks, which are saturated with such things. Some of the heaven-hell obsessions will start to trickle in here. If much more follows, the dam better be tall and strong to hold the flood.

This file will merely begin. Additions will temporarily go to a scrapbook from which any number of modules could devolve.

Just out of college and waiting to be drafted, my hotdog partner and I accepted a gig (where we were misled to believe we would earn big equity, a commensurate share of the profits) mass-reproducing the photo-finish at New York’s flat tracks for sale at the cigar stands. So: we spent six days a week at Belmont, then at Aquaduct, an August at Saratoga, then back to Aquaduct, Belmont … David’s older brother Rennie showed up one day and remarked (Catholic upbringing) that the track reminded him of Limbo: all these lost souls wandering around.

bkMarcus has a one act play in which, just before fatally crashing a car into a wall, the protagonist argues that earth is really hell, Jesus having taken the saved with him two millennia ago.

And today I shall merge those metaphors. First, note this contrast. Christianity posits a binary universe of Time and Eternity. In Time, we live before Judgment. We don’t know anything: we’re just laying wagers: fighting wars against infidels before the official results of who’s right have been announced. Indeed, in our wars, we’re following leaders who say they’re right, but of course it’s all bluster.

Anyway, in this Christian binary, Time is subjective as well as full of vicissitude, mutability: it’s a Renaissance, a Shakespearian universe. Eternity includes Time, but also supercedes it: after Judgment, everyone, including the damned, will know everything: perfectly: the number 9 horse won race #1, the number 6 horse won race #2 … Until the race has been run, and until those results have been posted, and until time has elapsed for all challenges to be reviewed, until the results are official … it’s all just numbers on a board. Once the results are official, once the state pays off, losing tickets become worthless permanently. Until the results are official, fights over who’s going to win are ludicrous: which doesn’t mean they can’t take place. Will anyone really fight over their bet after the posted results have been deemed official? note (Not unless it’s a presidential election which has be decided by a court after it’s been demonstrated that the State does not know how to count: neither do the voters know how to vote.)

Science, in contrast, has posited Time to be extensive (Prigogine posits it to be infinite), with Eternity being just a local, temporary pathology.

In History, even official results are temporary, not to be trusted. You lose in the local court, but what will the county court say? You lose in the county court, but what will the State Supreme Court say? You lose in the State Supreme Court, but what will the United States Supreme Court say? You lose in the United States Supreme Court, but what will that ahem, same Supreme Court say once there’s a change of administration and new appointments? … And even then … just wait to lose a war? After Hiroshima, who cares what the Japanese Emperor said before Hiroshima?

New York’s tracks had a binary universe of their own. First, there was the grandstand; then there was the club house. In 1960 it cost $2 to get into the grandstand, $5 to get into the Club House. (As a runner of product as well as the manufacturer of the product, I was back and forth between the two worlds throughout the day. It was only slightly less crowded in the Club House than in the grandstand, only slightly more spiritually impoverished in the grandstand than in the Club House. The tailoring was only slightly better on the average Club House ticket holder … Though if I recognized Steve Allen or Count Basie or a Rockerfella or the Mayor … they were in the Club House, not the grandstand.) Of course within those two binary worlds there were sub-binaries: maybe the guy in the Club House had a year of college, but there were other guys there who’d had two years: other guys who’d graduated … All trivial compared to this binary: there were some ticket holders in the Club House who knew a trainer! Man, now that’s the inside track!

But of course the races still had to be run. The windows didn’t pay off because your cousin once dated the sister of a horse trainer; they paid only if your betting ticket’s numbers matched the numbers posted as Win, Place, and Show: and then, only after it was official.

I’m taking a breather. But you see where this could go, don’t you? I hope you see where it’s already gone. Still, I’ll spell out how I believe bk is right: Earth is hell, Jesus took the saved with him two millennia ago. What’s wrong with Earth is that we still don’t know that we’re the damned! We’re still blustering about our silly tickets: our losing tickets.

2006 09 09

One Size Fits All

Once upon a time all women wore a shift: all women in the culture that wore shifts, that is. In some other culture they might have worn smocks, or gone naked, all the men would have worn kilts, or breeches … Sundays, the woman would put on her one dress.

Beau Brummel taking two hours to tie his tie, changing outfits several times a day: that’s the opposite extreme. I wish all women still wore shifts every day but Sunday: in fact seven days of shifts would be fine with me.

On the other hand, the last few decades, there’s been this phenomenon of One Size Fits All: meaning, don’t buy it, it’s cheap, it’s crap, it doesn’t fit anybody.

But no, wait: One Size Fits All has been the default assumption in many a religion. The Greeks all went to Hades, the Jews had a land of shadows for the dead.

Christianity divided Hades into two parts: Heaven, and Hell. Always, there was death; now there was Reward, and Punishment. One reward fits all the good; one punishment fits all the bad.

The punishment was that you burned: forever. (How long is “forever” to those who think the universe was made by their local god a few thousand years before Jesus?)

Everyone can imagine burning: we’ve all suffered burns. But how do we imagine heaven? We’ve all experience pleasure. We all know it doesn’t last. We all know that no two pleasures are equal. Pain now, pain lasts; but not forever, not undiminished. An injury might hurt worse after ten hours than it did after one hour; but no injury hurts the same after one hour, after twenty-four hours, after seventy-two hours … And memory of pain degrades, fast.

Ah, but in heaven we see God. In some theologies that’s the ecstasy.

2012 04 16 One of my related pieces just got a link from a mind thinking, writing in parallel: clearly not the same mind, clearly not the same points, but deep into the epistemological implications of the science of semiotics. The Supremacy of Language.
I’ll keep my eyes open to see if this JR Fibonacci is related to the great mathematician.

Meantime I quote a sample of his post:

In the ancient oral tradition of the Hebrew people, which was later written down and translated, that original dividing in language is called the separating of the Heavens from the Earth. Earth is the labeled, the perceived, the realm of the temporary or changing. Heaven is the process of perceiving or the perceiver, the realm of the enduring or changeless. Heaven could also symbolize “a bird’s eye view” or a holistic perspective.


Official Results:

Mario Puzo tells of degenerate gamblers who buy the paper, see that their horse lost, then buy another paper, hoping the first was misprinted!


There, that’s a fair portion of the heaven hell stuff from K. There I had my Judgment features link from the same menu.
If it gets edited much further, that will be in the future.

Cosmology Etc.

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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