July 27, 2009
In an age when many people do not believe in immortality, Paradise is truly lost. Or is it?
I like to question people about their views of life after death or, as the case may be, of non-life after death. Often, their ideas do not include a heavenly resurrection, but a state of long and lasting sleep. “I will simply fall asleep,” they say. “I will close my eyes and never wake up.”
For them, there is Paradise. Heaven is a very strong anaesthetic and a firm mattress. Perhaps the ceaseless vitality and busyness of modern life makes the idea of doing anything after death unappealing. This is the perfect reward for a life well-lived, an eternal coma.
On the face of it, immortal sleep bears the marks of common sense. Death resembles sleep. It resembles sleep if one has never seen real death, if one encounters the end of life only in its doctored form, with none of the gruesome grimaces a fresh corpse displays before the mortician arrives.
The truth is the idea that the afterlife resembles sleep makes less sense than the idea of some form of resurrection. Both beliefs imply immortality. To be in a state of sleep, one must exist. To rest one must breathe. What sort of God would want to superintend an eternal state of dormancy?
I would not mind sleeping forever. Good night and Farewell. God of Endless Bedtime and Heavenly Mattresses, grant me a blissful sleep. A night of dreams. Dreams of Paradise, not fire.