An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Posts tagged ‘Eternal progression’

Heaven Can Wait

I love the Mormon idea of eternal progression. Everything we do in life is important if we believe our intact personalities and intellect—all the things we’ve learned, the characteristics we’ve achieved–will last beyond this life. Where it breaks down for me is that once a person becomes perfect, and like God, able to create worlds and people them, it sounds pretty depressing. If God is perfect, then this world must be the best He can do, and why would I want to replicate that and be responsible for the billions of people—most of them suffering—that inhabit it?

 Also, the idea of doing the same thing over and over again would eventually get old. Granted it would take many eons to reach perfection and then to get the hang of scrunching particles of matter into a sphere, setting it spinning, providing atmosphere, land and a water cycle. But once the essentials are mastered, monotony sets in—creating the same worlds and people over and over again without improving the methods doesn’t meet my definition of progression.

The traditional Christian view of Heaven as a place where we join the Heavenly choir and praise God forever would get boring even faster—unless it’s possible to return to earth and angelically assist  humans muddling their way through mortality.

I do relate to the Buddhist and Hindu notions of reincarnation. Retaining the virtues we gain in this life for the next go-around makes our actions in this life important. But I want to hang onto my memories of this life. In the B & H traditions, that kind of attachment would not rate me a better situation next time. No doubt I’d sink quite a few notches.

The Muslim idea of Paradise—an oasis of trees, grass, flowing water—and beautiful women to serve—appeals to men, but what motivates Muslim women to want a place there?

Atheists have no hope their good deeds will gain them admittance to a post-earth life nor do they have hope of retaining their virtues in another embodiment. Their only choice is to make the most of this life. Not the best bet for a procrastinator. I have a need to apologize to a number of people who have gone beyond.

The main problem with eternity, is—it lasts too long. No wonder nobody wants to die.

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Families Can Be Together Forever–But Is That Really a Good Idea?

As a kid, my concept of heaven was a sort of Star Wars eternal battle against good and evil. I visualized myself serving God as a sort of messenger (i.e. ministering angel). The notion of becoming a god myself seemed arrogant—besides, I was a girl.

I’ve always been an independent person who needs solitude to replenish my spiritual and emotional well-being. Growing up, I valued home and family, and I wanted to be with my mother who died when I was ten. But my desire for a temple marriage didn’t surface until I had a houseful of kids. I adored my children and wanted to be with them forever. I even half wished they could remain innocent, young kids in our nuclear family—although I knew that wouldn’t have been fair to them.

With my children grown, I realize the notion of mothering my little brood of children for eternity is a myth. They are all capable adults caring for families and responsibilities of their own. Their idea of eternal family is being with their own children and having Granny and Granddad visit occasionally. Eternal family life, unless you factor in eternal procreation, is really eternal marriage. Here again I have a problem. Wife is a subordinate, care-giving role.

Another problem is that parent and child roles evolve throughout life. My mother died when she was younger than my youngest daughter. I can’t visualize a mother-daughter relationship with her. While my mother’s life was too short, my dad’s life was too long. Our roles reversed as I became his caregiver. While I would like to see my parents in heaven, I really can’t imagine myself as a child in their nuclear family. And where would George fit? How do we live with my family and his family and our kids and their families and their spouses’ families? I picture a sort of golden ant hill—with no place to hide.

The notion of eternal procreation makes the situation even worse. For several years the entrance to the women’s dressing room at the Jordan River Temple had a painting of Heavenly Mother surrounded by numberless offspring. The painting was removed several years ago—probably because of comments that Heavenly Mother’s face, which was intended, I’m sure, to radiate peace and joy in her posterity, actually resembled a woman who was stoned out of her skull and in great need for a room of her own— far from a multitude of little voices trilling, “Mom!”

Don’t get me wrong. I dearly love every member of my immediate family, most of my extended family, and even some of my in-laws. It’s not the people I have trouble with; it’s the relationships. I don’t really want to be anybody’s wife or mother or daughter forever and ever. Now, sister, I could handle. My brothers make few demands. For my money, being friends with George, our adult children, and our parents and other relatives is enough. Trying to restructure hierarchical family relationships sounds like a good way to turn heaven into hell.

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