"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."-John 14:1-4


I was raised a Methodist, Sunday schooled to believe that Heaven existed, though in fairness not much emphasis was placed upon it. When a young child, I lay across my mother's lap during the service, staring up to the rough pine planks of the high A-frame ceiling. Surely God was up there. I never questioned anything taught to me. When it was my time, I would ascend upwards like everyone else who had lived a good and moral life.

Now a Quaker, years later, I've done my share of research on the subject and still never been satisfied. It seems that Friendly beliefs about the afterlife are inconsistent at best. The liberal unprogrammed Friends with whom I have worshiped are much more concerned with good works performed on Earth. There's certainly a place for that, but I've never been able to shake the belief that there is a destination I may end up if I play my cards right. Maybe I'm selfish. Doing right for the sake of rightness alone isn't enough for me. Life is challenging. I seek a respite when my time is up, whenever that shall be.

My vision of heaven has changed drastically over time. It has been shaped by movies, books, television shows, many of which seem to show a stereotypical notion of a place up in the clouds where everything is perfect. When I've asked Friends the question which I have titled this piece, I've gotten a wide variety of answers, most of which deviate dramatically from the way I was taught. Most involve some lofty goal to be accomplished on Earth, often a work of activism that has been transformed into a life's work. But again, I question whether that is truly enough for anyone. I think God wants us to look forward towards Heaven as one of the most profound symbols of his love for us.

Part of the confusion is how infrequently eternal life is mentioned in Scripture. Interpreters of the few passages where Heaven is mentioned downplay the doubts some might have and emphasize the promised reward. This kind of reminds me of a mother disciplining her child, who constantly asks "Why?" and the mother firmly replies, "Because I said so." I'm not sure that I believe major matters like these are so easily explained away and predicated on blind faith alone.

A few verses later, this same chapter states that Jesus is the sole path to God the Father. I was taught to not take offense at how narrow this interpretation is and to be happy that my path to salvation existed in any form. Better to put my doubt aside and be thankful for what I had. Again, I asked why to a multitude of people and was told instead, "Because I said so." In that regard, I rebelled. I have never believed that Christianity was the only way, though I will say that it has been highly instructive and effective for me.

I conclude with a few queries. Do you believe in Heaven? If so, what form does it take in your imagination? If not, why do you reject the notion?

Views: 92

Comment by Forrest Curo on 8th mo. 3, 2017 at 4:22pm

Why are you asking human beings, who don't know conditions they have not experienced, instead of asking the One who knows?

And wouldn't 'He' ask: "Don't you have enough to deal with where you are?"


No Meeting I know of has passed a minute as to this question, nor would it make any difference to anyone else if one did.


I believe the visits I've had (mostly in dreams) from friends who've died have been, quite literally, encounters with the people involved. They seem to be doing fine; I don't expect to understand what life for them is like nor do they burden me with bewildering explanations.

Comment by Howard Brod on 8th mo. 4, 2017 at 11:32pm

I always keep in my mind that the Bible is merely a collection of writings thousands of years ago written by people who penned their words with a language very different than any modern language with much editing of their words over time, and were experiencing God through the lens of their culture, their human brains, their education, their hang-ups, and their struggles during that period of time in that part of the world. 

Yet, the spirit of their writings can still come through even if we can not rely on  the accuracy or literalness of what was penned, nor the applicability in the modern world.  With that understanding, I suspect that once we have died our energy does experience a different existence that perceives the divine a bit clearer than we do now - where we have to contend with these animal bodies with all its needs, limitations, and baggage.  After that better perception of the divine, I have no idea what processes might occur or what happens to that energy that belongs to the divine. Does it take on a new existence somewhere in the Universe, does it become completely part of the divine energy somehow?

I once read an explanation of liberal Quakers (not written by a liberal Quaker)  that read something like this:  "Many liberal Quakers do not emphasize the person of Jesus, although most experience the spirit of Jesus' teachings in their lives."  I think concepts like heaven are taken similarly by many liberal Friends.

And as with most things that start getting into beliefs, notions, doctrines, or dogma; the experiential mystical "culture" of liberal Quakerism (and the people who are part of it) doesn't lend itself to nailing anything down.  And that seems to be the way liberal Friends like it.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 8th mo. 5, 2017 at 12:47pm

A year or so ago a member of my Meeting was murdered in Tijuana, whether by low-life friends (as the p0lice investigation concluded) or by police (whom he had several times threatened to expose for corrupt practices.) The San Diego convent where he worked as a gardener discovered this the next morning, when they called to ask why he hadn't shown up for work.

A story I believe (from similar experiences, among other things) from a mutual friend, quite close to him in spirit...

She was sitting in a friend's house in a dream, enjoying a cup of tea.

There was a knock on the door. Her friend, going to answer the knock, told her "That must be Rocky. I need to show him around, explain how things work around here."

Waiting on the couch, she remembered that the person she was visiting had been dead for several years. What was Rocky doing here? Why would he be needing to be shown around?

And, as she subsequently learned, that was the night he died.

I can't say for sure what posthumous existence in fact is like (nor do I need to be shown around just yet) but these hints that come to people now and then --T hese do reflect something we can know about a larger world than we've been generally willing to accept.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 5, 2017 at 1:03pm
Through the inshining of the Light itself in itself upon my conscious and conscience, I am come into a way of being that is come out dependency upon reflections of the temporal nature to be or exist. And it is discovered to me that this way of existence is come into this world and is known now and in every moment. There is no need to look to a future manifestation, it is already here ... before us.
Comment by Howard Brod on 8th mo. 5, 2017 at 1:18pm


I think your expressed view is actually what many liberal Quakers would say.  I have heard similar words many, many times over the years among liberal Friends.  Thank you for reminding me.  Now, if I could only be blessed with a recognition at all times that that is my true state.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 8th mo. 5, 2017 at 6:59pm

Friends still die and I don't find their corporal reflections hanging about where they used to annoy me.

I'm not concerned about them; I have a motto from playing go games: "Dead folks got no worries" and I'm sure it applies to life as well. Neither do I imagine that I (or anyone) can be & then cease being.

But I'm afraid that becoming a bliss-bunny would not be any sort of improvement over my life-&-death as-is, with all its inconveniences and all my personal shortcomings, God-dreamed and wallowing about here in samsara.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 5, 2017 at 7:40pm
The sufficiency Life itself in itself has discovered to me it has nothing to do with bliss-bunnification ... even as much as there are those who would try to characterize it as such for their own private satisfaction. To be drawing into the Life itself in all things, even in temporal life is Grace itself.
Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 5, 2017 at 8:51pm

I think I shared this piece before:

The Life in Dying


Comment by Forrest Curo on 8th mo. 6, 2017 at 8:47am

Being dead is supposed to be different; so I've heard.

It continues, so far, to make people elusive and hard for us to talk to.

I am not yet, nor would I want to be, in a condition where the distinction didn't matter. Chacun a son gout.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 6, 2017 at 10:26am
I accept and appreciate you (by your own admission) are not (nor want to be) in such a condition that by you is supposed different and distinct. It could not be otherwise in the case of those who know no other condition.


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