The dead letter office

A  US company offers to deliver messages to the dead for about $20 a word — with a five-word minimum.

The company sends the messages via terminally ill patients who promise, for a fee, to deliver the messages to “the other world”.

The fine print of the agreement, however, warns customers that the company cannot guarantee the message will get through.

“The truth is,” the company warns, “no one knows what happens when someone dies.”

Maybe not. But there is plenty of speculation.

Heaven, in most religions, is the ultimate destiny of the blessed. It is, according to most accounts in literature, a safe and beautiful place — the opposite of earthly squalor.

It is not the venue of never-ending boredom, but the centre of high human aspirations; the most fragrant and splendid of places.

Philosopher and author Arthur Roberts, in his new book Exploring Heaven, lays out historical evidence that people will retain their identities and personalities in heaven.

“We’ll be more than information bytes downloaded on to an eternal supercomputer,” he writes.

“We will do things like caring for our bodies, working, playing, socialising, sharing affection, and worshipping.”

Roberts even talks of the possibility of animals in heaven, although he admits he is not sure and has no evidence.

Medieval Pope Gregory the Great recorded his vision of heaven — pleasant meadows with white-clad people, sweetly smelling air, bright light and houses made of golden bricks.

Islamic scholars wrote of a heavenly oasis with great feasts and virgins attending the faithful.

Huckleberry Finn said heaven was the place where a person would “go round all day long with a harp and sing . . . forever and ever”.

Karl Marx said the whole concept of heaven was merely “pie in the sky”.

Early Christians and ancient Jews had a different concept of the afterlife. They saw not so much pie in the sky, but pie served on earth.

They talked of an earthly alternative for humanity — the New Jerusalem built on this planet after the return of the Messiah. Only God could live in heaven, they said.

Most people seem to have a vague concept of heaven; perhaps a grand reunion of a loved one or a final escape from pain. Our instincts suggest that the real story of heaven is about how we might transform after death on this planet.

Those who believe in this new realm — and it seems logical to do so — feel it will be unlike anything any of us have so far known or experienced.

Who knows what heaven will be like? Will there be music, for example?

The religious experts seem to agree that music will be part of the new system. After all, music was, according to many traditions, the language God spoke to create the universe.

What age will we be in heaven? The medieval philosophers generally agreed that we would be about 33, the recognised age of “earthly maturity” and also the age of Jesus when He physically left the planet.

Will we somehow retain our present bodies? The Jews think so and that is why they reject cremation.

Christians talk of new bodies, fashioned like the body of Jesus when He returns the second time.
Buddhists and Hindus believe we will become pure spirits.

It’s all slightly uncomfortable to discuss. Death, no matter what the destination, seems a violent act; an enemy of life.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who worked with the dying, noted that none of the encounter groups of dying people she chaired wanted to talk about heaven.
It seemed embarrassing, even cowardly.

“What convulsion of values can have us holding up the prospect of annihilation as brave and that of blissful eternity as cowardly?” she said.

And what has happened to the old bedrock gospel concept of heaven as a “home” beyond this one.

In that vision, heaven is a destiny, a place where some things — such as love — will never come to an end.

The most amazing thing may be that the lessons we learn in this world will serve us well in the next. And the concentric circles of love we recognise in this world will be expanded in the future.

Nothing will be lost. It will simply be transformed.

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19 thoughts on “The dead letter office

  1. Interesting concept.
    That the message might get sent through.
    It assumes that on the “other” side they cannot hear, see or know what we are doing and saying/writing.

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  2. You can have anything you want in heaven. If I am there I would like to time travel to important events and witness things like the real exodus. Maybe ask Moses pbuh to come with me and ask him some questions.

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  3. “The religious experts seem to agree that music will be part of the new system. After all, music was, according to many traditions, the language God spoke to create the universe.”

    Music is awesome. Music fills heaven as heavenly beings praise our Lord and Creator. When God created the world, the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy. Music was an important part of the worship service at the temple. Music in heaven will be magnificent.

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  4. Koran and Heaven
    “Serving [the believers] will be immortal youths with jeweled and crystal cups filled with the purest wine which will neither give them headache nor hangover, with fruits and meats of their desire. They will be fair ones with lovely intense eyes like guarded pearls; A reward for the good deeds of their past life.” (56:17-24)
    “We have created mates for them and made them virgins, matched in age, for the companions of the right hand.” (56:35-38)
    “They will be chaste, restraining their eyes in modesty, never touched by man or Jinn.”(55:56)
    “Serving them will be immortal servants. When you see them, they will look like scattered pearls.” (76:19)

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  5. Interesting
    Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.
    Qur’an 2:62

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      • It is interesting that it mentions Christians thus assuming they believe in the Biblical God. But to believe in Allah, as you are referring to suggests we must believe in the Koran.
        Although Allah may be the Arabic term for God (arguably) in my reply to you and in my opinion they are not one and the same as the Koran describes a very different god to the one in the Bible.

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      • Another interesting point, related to a previous thread, is that there is no assurance of salvation in Islam. So what is the reward?

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      • It is interesting that it mentions Christians thus assuming they believe in the Biblical God.

        This verse refers to the Jews before Jesus pbuh and the Christians before Mohammad pbuh.

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    • The verse does not say before Jesus. Although some will place that “fact” in brackets within the text. Thus changing the Koran to suit themselves.

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  6. It was the ancient Persians who gave us the word paradise, which means a walled garden or park, and Zoroastrianism in particular gave us notions of the afterlife that were adopted and/or adapted by the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Zoroastrianism is also interesting because, unlike other religions, it claims that everyone will eventually get into heaven, though it might take a while. The paradise of Zoroastrianism is attained the fourth day after death by crossing the Bridge of the Separator, which widens when the righteous approach it. (see the next section for what happens to the wicked.) The righteous soul crosses the bridge and is met by a beautiful maiden who is the physical and feminine embodiment of all his good works on earth. He is then escorted into the House of Song to await the Last Day. On this day, everyone will be purified and live in a new world absent of evil and full of youthful rejoicing.
    http://www.neatorama.com/2007/03/23/heaven-and-hell-according-to-various-religions/

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  7. Eastern religions don’t really have notions of heaven like those in the West. Instead, they usually offer some kind of release from illusion and suffering in the present world. The Hindu Upanishads are philosophical portions of the Vedas, Hinduism’s oldest sacred text, and in them the notions of the self and afterlife are developed. According to the Upanishads, our actions connect us to this world of appearances, which is in fact illusory. What is real is Brahman, the ultimate reality that transcends our sensory experiences. Unfortunately, we live in ignorance of Brahman and act according to our illusions. This action (karma) causes us to participate in the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara – see next section) from which it’s difficult to escape. Thus, if you can escape your ignorance and realize that ultimately you are not you but Brahman itself, then you can achieve release from the cycle of death and rebirth. This release is called moksha.
    http://www.neatorama.com/2007/03/23/heaven-and-hell-according-to-various-religions/

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  8. “In that vision, heaven is a destiny, a place where some things — such as love — will never come to an end.”

    Imagine a place with no anger, hatred, betrayal, darkness, lies and sin. A place only of light, joy, happiness, laughter, fun, compassion, and love.
    Love is altogether holy and divine. it is a pure flame.

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    • Matthew 22:29 – 32
      Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

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