The biggest news story last week was a definitive report issued by leading theologians as to the true nature of Heaven. For several centuries, or perhaps even from the beginning of time, human beings have posited various versions of Heaven. In our day, the conventional image of Heaven usually includes cushiony clouds, flowery fields, haloed choirs of angels, and a bearded God lounging in a super-size throne. It seems kind of boring, to tell the truth.
For all the talk of Heaven, one might expect that aspirants to Heavenly life would have a better idea about what actually goes on up there. Do we go to movies, visit the in-laws, watch TV, take the dog for a walk, get Chinese takeout, take Zumba classes, get haircuts, sip mint juleps under the magnolias, get pedicures, go to games, get the tires rotated? Or is Heaven just eternal church-going—to the cathedral, the synagogue, the mosque, the temple, the local ward? (Up till now, most theologians have agreed that the Mormon idea of Heaven is probably the most accurate one.)
Do we spend our days enduring a never-ending Fast & Testimony meeting, tearfully bearing our testimonies on empty stomachs? Is there eating in Heaven? Is there crying in Heaven? (Theologians also agree that the Mormons were right about sex in heaven—the birds do it, the bees do it and good Mormons do it, but the question arises: Does it, too, get boring after a while?)
All these questions about Heaven are now moot, however, thanks to the aforementioned definitive report issued by leading theologians.
After a three-week retreat at an undisclosed location near Santa Barbara, Calif. (a perennial candidate for Heaven, always a bigger vote-getter than perpetual runner-up West Virginia, regarded as “almost Heaven”), the theologians unanimously “liked” Facebook as the true Heaven.
According to the Right Reverend Dr. Aldeni Ensernos of the Holy Order of Portuguese Brethren and a respected consultant on social media, the leading theologians came to their conclusion via a rigorous logical procedure known in philosophical circles as negation of the affirmative (or, in the Southern Hemisphere, as the affirmation of the negative).
“For a long time, we have been looking at the Heaven question from the wrong end of the telescope,” said Dr. Ensernos in his heavily accented English. “We have been asking: What is Heaven? However, we should have been asking: What is not Heaven? When we thus turn the telescope upside down, we look at Hell, not Heaven. And what is Hell, you ask?”
Dr. Ensernos smiled seraphically for what seemed like an eternity before answering his own question. “From the little wall-eyed existentialist called Jean-Paul Sartre comes the quote in his play No Exit: ‘Hell is other people.’ Obviously, such is the case. So therefore, Heaven is the absence of other people. Heaven is just you, your primordial perfected self, thankfully at last freed from the muddle and mess of other people and the need to interact with their unpredictable and intractable lives.
“And where do we find that perfected self in all its narcissistic and exhibitionistic beauty? The perfectly named Facebook! Focus on my face! No actual face-to-face, person-to-person uncomfortable and awkward interaction with your fellow fallible human beings! But—and a big but—the illusion, or better, delusion, that you are connecting and friending all the livelong day!
“Is not this Heaven? Is not this forever presenting your best-invented self? Do you not become your own personal Wizard of Oz, sitting in your jammies at your computer, or by your lonesome in a crowded Starbucks shop with your mobile device, bragging about your fascinating life, which you are afraid is not as good as your so-called friends?”
At this point, Dr. Ensernos heard a jingle in his pocket and pulled out his smart phone to check his own Facebook. “Look! Someone wants to be my friend, someone I discussed best canned chili with at the grocery store. But who cares? No need to defriend, just hide him in cyber space, which is endless and eternal, just like Heaven.
“But the really cool thing about our discovery of Facebook Heaven is that it is earthly Facebook without all the hard work, pretending to like and write ‘Great photo!’ or other phony comments. And Facebook Heaven puts the old scary God out of business. No more worry about an omniscient deity like Santa who knows if you’ve been good or bad. If there is a God in Facebook Heaven, it’s just a dorky kid in a hoodie.”
D.P. Sorensen writes a satire column for City Weekly.