A common image that eulogists share at funerals is that once we die we sit in a comfy chair and smile as we look down at our loved ones as they go about their lives. This notion is not biblical but is, instead, a certain extrapolation of the Greek idea that we have an enduring soul or spirit. I cringe at this thought! My mother was a wonderful person but had a predilection to worrying and it was worse when she felt she was not able to help the person she saw at risk or in need. The idea that she is spending eternity watching her loved ones screw up while she can do nothing about it sounds more like demented torture than heavenly bliss. While there can be no direct trace, this notion is found a letter written in 1923 to fellow English writer John Middleton Murry, where D H. Lawrence wrote, “The dead don't die. They look on and help.”

Revelation 7:10-12
And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
All the angels were standing around the throne and
around the elders and the four living creatures.
They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom
and thanks and honor and power
and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"

John the Revelator was a visionary not a lexicographer. He did not intend to define or limit our own heavenly anticipations. Instead, his portraits were to open up our minds and hearts to the radical greatness that words will always fall short of capturing. I would never say there are no comfy chairs in heaven but visions such as the multitudes before the throne in Revelation 7 are surely offered to us to imagine that heaven includes something much greater than mundane observations of the life you left.

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Comment by Forrest Curo on 6th mo. 2, 2017 at 2:23pm

We _are_ 'enduring soul or spirit' (terminologies differ!) whether we're embodied physically or 'Otherly Embodied'. [How's _that_ for euphemism, huh, huh?]

I've several times noticed what I believe to be dream-visit 'postcards from Later' -- following the deaths of people I've been close to. Stories of other people's similar experiences (often enough without them having physical notification of death at the time) are widespread, some of them told me directly by people I knew personally -- and I'm quite certain, myself, that these were genuine messages from the particular people we'd lost.

I don't get much content re how things are 'there' -- or about the state of this world, either; most everything in dreams is metaphoric, period. One young woman came as a tiny white kitten (utterly her personality!) looking out at me from a soft green yard, behind a loose chain link fence. There were no words but I knew without question that this was her, and that she was fine.

When people move apart physically on Earth, despite good intentions and continuing good will, they typically lack the time [these days] to say what's happening while it happens; and meanwhile, changes in context keep piling up until no one has time to tell the whole story of the changes you'd have to know about to follow what they're doing now...

This 'death' move looks to be a bigger relocation than that. One man came back (via dream phone call -- I remembered at the time that the guy on the other end of the line had died) to say he'd be picking up his son soon, not to worry about him -- and so it turned out, a few days later.

But most of the time, unless you're into leaving out beer for the ancestors (not our custom, & probably just as well!) they've likely got other interests, as do we.

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