Another Try at Minimising Eternity

From (where else?) The Lead:

The most popular immortality narrative is Soul. Most Christians now believe that their souls, which persist after death, will be reunited with their resurrected bodies. Souls thus solve a lot of the identity problems associated with the earlier Resurrection narrative. Cave argues that Soul narrative resolves the Mortality Paradox by denying “that the failing body is the true self, identifying the person instead with exactly that mental life that seems so inextinguishable.” In Christianity all souls are equal before God, so if the omnipotent and omniscient Creator of the universe is interested in your life then who are your politicians to ignore your desires?

It used to be that liberals were associated with universalism, i.e., everyone goes to heaven.  But I’ve noticed the last few years that, these days, those on the religious left seem to be drifting to a practical annihilationism.  This makes sense: if you embrace the “culture of death” about this life, why not the other one?

In their ham-handed way, however, The Lead has stumbled upon a key issue: what do we do in eternity?  The author they cite makes an immediate translation from the theological to the political (natch!) by saying that “…if the omnipotent and omniscient Creator of the universe is interested in your life then who are your politicians to ignore your desires”?  The evangelical “on the other side” (James Garlow) does little better: his cited comeback is that “your every desire is satisfied more abundantly than you’ve ever dreamed”.  The key problem on both sides these days is our desire.

What I am about to say isn’t going to sit well with many people out there, but I’ll say it anyway: the goal of our lives isn’t to have our desires fulfilled, and that’s true both in a temporal and an eternal sense.  Most of what is wrong with our culture these days stems from making that goal the summum bonum, and that includes the unsustainable levels of public and private debt that have destabilised our economy.  Our goal needs to be this: to be “in synch” with the desires of our Creator.  When we make that our goal, most everything else (including this) will fall into place, and we’ll stop wondering what we’ll do if we achieve real eternal life.

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