Poll: Heaven

Forgive me for being blunt, but has anyone ever wondered why on earth the descriptions we have of the Celestial Kingdom and the ultimate afterlife party are all that appealing? Am I the only one that doesn’t think it’s much of a reward to live with my parents for the rest of eternity? I’m actually not joking. Recent events have forced me to take a look at what it is we mean when we talk about a Mormon Heaven; and aside from the eternal child-bearing and rearing that seems to either comfort or crush most women, I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of living it up down the street from my parents while some of my brothers and sisters are stuck without passports in another land.

Personally, I’d be more prone to the lure of non-belief if it weren’t for the other part about eternal life that we sometimes talk about, but mostly around. Progressing, learning, experiencing, living and loving. These are the parts of continuing on that appeal to me. I love this world. I love living in the moment and tasting the flavors of life with every piece of me that can be made aware. I love learning new things, especially from people that are least like me or that I may disagree with. I love hard work and feeling effort deep within my body. I love exploring and traveling and being alone as much as I love being with those that I love. I even love the trial of a lesson learned the hard way or appreciating something because I no longer have it. These are the aspects of existence that I hope will be part of whatever eternity is. I don’t want to be confined to a gigantic white staircase chit-chatting with those around me in white robes. I want color, and I want to choose who I spend time with and what we get to do with that time. Granted, there are moments when ceasing to exist after death is appealing as well, but for the most part, I kinda hope the next life looks a lot like this one, struggles and all – though I wouldn’t mind having my body from ten years ago back.

What about you? What does your vision of heaven look like? Does it fit within any LDS tiers of glory? Please share your own hopes and interpretations and speculations.

Corktree

Corktree is exploring life and spirituality in new ways and new environments while studying midwifery, reiki, yoga, homeopathy, herbology and evolutionary nutrition. She has 3 daughters and one son, which add up to what now feels like an enormous family of 6.

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30 Responses

  1. Diane says:

    Personally, I think my heaven will be a little more inclusive and welcoming to any who want to come, and to those who don’t, well there’s always that special place for you to be

  2. Ed S says:

    I used to think more about this. Certainly we Mormons tend to concretize after-life beliefs to an almost absurd literalism. Nowadays I believe whatever I was before I was born is what I’ll be after I die. And, since I was satisfied before birth, so I expect to be after death.

    • Corktree says:

      Interesting – do you believe in the doctrine that you chose to come to earth then? Would that indicate you were satisfied with what you were before birth or not? (really just curious what you think, not being antagonistic)

      • Ed S says:

        I’m really just paraphrasing, I believe it was Schopenhauer, who said something like this, without regard to any LDS doctrine. It makes the whole thing seem entirely okay with me. If I lived before I came here, I probably will afterwards. If I just came into existence (not including my atoms which are “starstuff”) at birth, I’ll likely disappear afterwards (except my DNA will live wonderfully through my kids, as someone pointed out on the D&S swap).

  3. Jasie says:

    I’m growing less and less concerned about the afterlife these days. I’m not sealed to anyone, and I’m grateful for that. I’m interested in progressing and flourishing in this life and then seeing how things turn out in the next. I hate how certain people are about whether or not they’ll go to the celestial kingdom, and how heart broken they are when their gay children can’t be there with them, because any place other than the CK is hell. It’s ridiculous and goes against the whole Plan of Salvation to think like that, but I see it all of time. So yeah, I love the idea of eternally progressing and creating my own worlds, but if it turns out that none of this is true, I would hate to die knowing that I’ve wasted so much time worrying whether or not I could eternally hang out in the great living room in the sky.

    • Corktree says:

      Agreed. I don’t think we should act as though our relationships are set in stone either direction – and we should live as though now is what matters, otherwise later won’t be worth it.

  4. Bones says:

    Thank you for bringing up this topic! If I ever hint at my feelings of the afterlife (not all positive), people tend to look at me like I have three heads. So, as you can guess, I rarely talk about it.

    There are not many things about the afterlife, as taught, that appeal to me.

    -Eternal rest? Oh, that would be Hell!

    -Creating worlds? I’d be sick of that so fast, and while I think we can progress to be “like” God, to say we will be Gods, is blasphemous to me.

    -Eternal marriage? Nope. Don’t want it. I know that is weird and I adore my husband and the life we have, but even the more rewarding marathon needs to come to an end, and then I don’t want my reward to be the opportunity to keep running forever!

    So, I try not to think about the eternities. I really don’t know which thought is worse–eternal life or eternal nothingness.

    • Corktree says:

      I’m not sure I like the idea of eternal marriage either. My husband is my best friend and I love spending time with him (even when things are rough between us, we still find ways to laugh with each other) but I hope we’ll both have freedom to explore the mysteries of the universe on our own if we want and that we’ll have the option to be together when it makes sense. It’s healthy to have some separate interests in this life, so wouldn’t that hold true for the next?

  5. Rachel says:

    I just like the idea that all the traveling I didn’t get around to in this life, I will get to do in the next. All the things I don’t understand now, like how electricity reallllly works, will start to make sense. Get to know women who lived a thousand years before I did and find out how similar we probably really are.
    I like thinking about what my skills are now, and how those will be put to use.
    When I think about eternal nothingness, it’s a much easier concept to grasp. Thinking about living forever is overwhelming. Maybe we get to sleep/take naps, at least? 😉

  6. alex w. says:

    I don’t know what I want it to be.
    Not being sealed to anyone, I was always afraid of the afterlife growing up. Now that I’m married, I realize often that my husband is someone that I will always want near me, and feel that even though we annoy each other, I could never, ever get enough of it. But, we’re not married in the temple. So apparently I don’t deserve to get what I want. But when we got engaged, I decided that a lifetime with him for certain combined with no afterlife with him was still better than a lifetime and afterlife without him. Not to get all lovey on y’all..

    But, yeah, the thought of the afterlife is usually overwhelming to me and rarely comforting. I’ve gotten to a point where I try to not think about it very often.

    • Corktree says:

      I’ve always found it interesting that the very thing the Church uses to compel members to aspire to the CK, is the same thing that is also hurtful to other members. I understand just not wanting to think about it, and I certainly don’t think it’s something you have to have a hard belief in for this life.

  7. ohkj says:

    I am both the only member of my family, and un-wedded, so the celestial kingdom is something I have resolved not to think about. I know that we have been told (with a pat on the head an a kiss on the forehead) that those of use not lucky enough to marry in this life will in the next. That’s not sufficient for me any more.

    I was raised by goodly parents, and I hate to think that I won’t see them in the next life. I also get annoyed when I think that, I’m endowed and live my covenants, but that without being married, I won’t make it to the end of the race. And that someone who IS sealed, and unhappily so, will make it.

    But in the end, I keep doing what I’m going because even if this is all a sham, I’m a better, more loving and open person than I would be without the gospel. And that’s what keeps me around.

  8. DefyGravity says:

    I’ve been pondering this recently, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no reason to believe that “heaven’ or whatever you want to call it, is the same for everyone. Our lives on earth take different paths, we all have different interests, talents and goals, so why shouldn’t that continue after death? Some people love the idea of eternal marriage, including me. So for them, that will be a part of their eternity. (On a side note, I don’t think that eternal marriage means being attached at the hip forever. My husband and I do different and individual things now, so I’m ok with the idea of us doing different things in heaven while still being married.) Some will want to have lots of kids and be close to their families, some will want to learn, some will want to do everything, some will want to do nothing. I figure since I believe in loving Parents, I don’t believe that we all have to be happy living the same way in heaven as we don’t all have to be happy living the same life now.

    Also, my heaven is a library of everything ever written and time to read it all. 🙂

    • Corktree says:

      I also think heaven will be what suits each of us. I recognized after writing out my own view, that for many, peace and quiet and a respite from the unthinkable torture this life may have been, is what many individuals will need and want, and I truly hope they get it. I think even our spirits will need some healing from the effects of this life.

  9. Corktree says:

    I was just reminded of a recent belief I heard taught in RS. It was said that Paradise will be for those who heard the gospel and lived it, and that Spirit Prison will be for everyone else. And when I raised my hand to question this, it was defended as doctrine, with much back pedaling to support the idea that “prison” was actually a good thing for those spirits until they heard the gospel. I understand what they were trying to say, but it bothers me to no end that we use this to further create a chasm between us and the rest of the world. Not just a safety fence, but a deep and dangerous crack in our ability to empathize and recognize value in the way that other people choose to live and feel close to God. It just seems so wrong that we extend that to beyond the grave, even before the sorting into kingdoms. Why can’t we accept that others deserve the same joy from living the best in their life, as we do in ours?

    • Roaming Redhead says:

      I love this Corktree. Thanks for giving words to something I’ve thought but didn’t know how to articulate.

  10. It’s interesting. Whenever you ask 3 Mormons what heaven will look like, you get 5 answers. What you describe as heaven-as-taught is not at all how I feel it has been taught. When I think of sunday school taught heaven it’s a place where we do missionary work all day long and learn stuff. It’s likewise not appealing, but it’s also not what you describe.

    It’s going to be really rough when I have to give this lesson in a month or so.

  11. LovelyLauren says:

    I tried to make a point about this in a recent lesson that talked about the afterlife. I raised my hand and said that a lot of Mormons have weird ideas about heaven ( I mentioned having spirit babies forever, an idea I do not find appealing) and that I have learned to accept that when I get there, things will just make sense. I also don’t like the “missionary work to spirit prison” thing that a lot of women seemed really jazzed about that particular lesson. I’m pretty much a missionary-work dropout now, so I don’t see why it would be appealing then.

    All I got was a bunch of weird looks. Maybe I went too far? Anyway, I love my immediate and extended family deeply and always imagined them being a part of eternity, but I don’t think that means I’ll be with them every second. Honestly, all of the world-creating, eternal-lovin’, progress, etc. never concerned me as much as the answers I hope to receive and meeting my Mother in Heaven. Those are much more important to me than everything else. I just want to understand why things happen the way they do, why patriarchy is the way it is, what God’s will really is. I just want things to make perfect sense.

    Also, I want to wear as many bare-shouldered sundresses as I want. I’m tired of having sundress-envy every spring. I better get to wear what I want in heaven at least.

  12. jks says:

    To me the church teaches that we take these important things with us to the next life:
    1. who we are
    2. everything we have learned
    3. our relationships
    We are still ourselves. If we loved people on earth we will continue to love them after death.
    I don’t claim to know everything about sealings, but it is proof to me that our relationships continue after death. I may not be sealed to my best friend, for instance, but I am certain that we will still be friends.
    I love that we have the idea of different kingdoms. People will be happy and comfortable in their heaven.

  13. spunky says:

    When I was little, my father taught me that heaven could be whatever we wanted ot to be and it would have whatever we wanted most. I said that I loved peanut butter sandwiches! And asked if Heavenly Father had peanut butter sandwiches… to which my father replied that He had a whole room full of them! So sometimes, when I miss my dad who died when I was 18, I image a room full of peanut butter sandwiches, and I get to share them with my dad.

    On days when I am tired, the idea of eternal rest sound glorious.

    Otherwise… I personally don’t think heaven will be white robes- I can’t imagien the absence of colour, and find the use of white to be symbolic of purity. If we are in a place of purity, then there is no need for symbolism- so bring on the colours! With this, most days I get a kick out of thinking that one day I will understand enough about DNA and cells and bilology and chemistry that I could start making my own plants– many days, I imagine making purple trees. I love trees with green leaves, but think it might be fun to make purple trees. And purple grass. Maybe my grass will go green when it is dry, rather than the ‘earthly’ green grass going yellow when dry… I don’t know. But I love the idea of an eternal scientific canvas. I could have a lot of fun with that. And peanut butter sandwiches.

    • Maureen says:

      I too love the idea of an eternal scientific canvas, so to speak. And dislike the idea of an absence of color. Since white light is just made up of every color light I’ve imagined that God with His greater ability simply discerns all the colors individually at once. So I guess all those people glowing and wearing white robes must be wearing rainbow robes. (*giggles* Everyone in heaven is supporting gay pride. ;D)

  14. EM says:

    In my mind heaven will the same as my life here on earth only without all the trials and crap. For me I don’t want the mansions, just give me a white padded room with a rocking chair and leave me alone – for awhile – so I can become fully rested to do whatever else is in store for me. I just hope there’s lots of books, a school, and my cross stitching!

  15. CS Eric says:

    I just want to see my wife again, and I hope that she’s happy.

    That would be heaven for me.

  16. Anita says:

    I love to read about near-death experiences (NDEs) because of their wide variety of wonderful heavenly descriptions–the different colors, the music, the flowers, the ability to go back in history and watch different world events. The universal element, though, is that it’s wonderful and happy beyond mortal imagination. So whatever we get worked up about here, I think it’s like preschoolers who don’t know if college will be interesting or fun but hear people talk about it… but it’s just beyond their comprehension at that point.

  17. Karen says:

    I love this topic! Thank you everyone for your visions of Heaven. I always have a hard time with this because based on what I had always heard growing up, I always end up thinking of Heaven as endless Church. That is not what I want.

    I agree with the ideas of color, freedom, being with those we love and want to be with. I like the idea of working towards our own eternal progression, serving as guardian angels for those still on earth but also taking a break, having fun, flying, going to beautiful places.

    There is so much wonder when I think of the possibilities. I just have to get out of the mindset of “eternal church” and missionary work!

  18. Isla says:

    I believe that just about every earthly attempt to describe the particulars of celestial/heavenly life, including all the descriptions we use to describe it, is about as accurate as a three year old trying to describe the particulars of supernovas. Woefully inadequate.

    That said, if heavenly existence is one of eternal light which, by definition, comprehends all good in relations between persons, then I assume that it is an experience of love, joy, equality, respect, choice, learning, creativity, understanding and rejoicing on the part of the participants beyond what we can imagine with our just earthly memories.

    Though many have tried to describe their understanding what that life is like by answering some specific questions about it, what that life is like there, moment by moment or eon by eon, is, I believe, impossible to envision or comprehend with a mind limited by only memories of life on earth.

    I think it will blow your mind in every good way possible.

  19. Andrea says:

    This topic amuses me. For so many years in RS, when talking about eternal marriage, I wanted to ask, “Is it just me, or does anyone else cringe at the idea of being stuck with your husband for time and all eternity?” I filed for divorce last year. His x-wife and I are still his eternal polygamous wives. It’s going to be a real party up there.

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