Monday 3 June 2024

Is your understanding of Heaven minimalist or maximalist?

It is striking how often the expressed Christian understanding of Heaven is extremely "minimalist". In other words; the idea is that very little happens in Heaven. 

Furthermore, in such a Heaven we ourselves are simplified (by subtraction of all sin).

Heavenly life is thus described very simply; including discarding almost everything most people might most value in this mortal life; such as family and marriage; and our most cherished creative and other activities. 

Sometimes, indeed, Heavenly life is reduced to the single activity of communion with the divine. 

This sounds, on the face of it, pretty un-appealing - except as a relief and escape from suffering. 

The usual answer to such objections is that we shall ourselves by-then have-been transformed... 

Such that what seems now to be an aetiolated existence; will, when we are actually in that situation, be wholly satisfying; indeed joyful beyond our current possibility of understanding. 

It is probably clear from the above that I - by contrast - regard Heaven in a "maximalist" kind of way; as greatly enriched by more, and continuousness, of broadly the same kind of positive things that are best in this mortal life. 

Thus I regard Heaven as a place of more, and more loving, and everlasting relationships - including family, marriage, friendship; and ultimately loving relationships of other forms with other kinds of ("non-human") resurrected Beings such as animals, plants, and natural elemental Beings. 

And I regard Heaven as a place of "work" - the best kind of work; that work which derives from creative love. 

Which is to say creative work, fulfilling work; work that adds-to, enhances, enriches divine creation. 

But to return to the minimalist view of Heaven - assuming (as I do) that it is indeed mistaken, and apparently rather ineffective as a positive inducement; it is interesting to speculate why it arose? Why might people have decided that Heaven must be minimalist?

I think it is partly hinted above, by the idea that after sin has been stripped-away; not much would remain. 

Maybe also that it is easier to imagine perfection (which is how some people regard Heaven, although I think this is a mistaken emphasis - because implicitly static) if that perfection is simple?

I think there is also a residue of "historical Gnosticism"; by which I mean the pre-existing (among pagan Romans and Greeks) Neo-Platonism that captured mainstream and traditional Christianity (and not just the recognized Gnostic sects). 

This philosophical ideology (permanently) embedded within-itself what might be termed the religion of "Gospel Christianity" by its metaphysical insistence on philosophical concepts as a mandatory framework for Christianity. 

(Such as an infinite gulf between creator and created, strict monotheism (leading to the abstractions of Trinitarianism in order to encompass the divinity of Jesus); creation being from nothing (rather than an organizing of pre-existent chaotic "stuff"), and God and the divine world being "outside of Time". There are more.) 

Other aspects of this pre-Christian philosophy included a belief that the material was innately evil, and the the purely spiritual was therefore the proper aim; and this led to an ascetic ideal that strove to achieve the greatest possible independence from the material body during mortal life; essentially by subtractive disciplines. 

From this perspective, it is natural to regard Heaven minimalistically, and the denizens of Heaven likewise. 

And the assumption that the divine world - in order to be wholly good - must not change; probably led to the deletion of sequential Time from Heaven - such that there was neither need nor possibility of resurrected Men doing anything in Heaven. They would simple "be". 

(Even the doctrine of resurrection after death, which could hardly be ignored; was transformed into an abstracted, spiritualized, "resurrection body" - which body ended by being hardly regarded as material at all - but instead something more like light than everlasting flesh.) 

Of course the minimalist Heaven may include elements of reaction against pagan (and other) understandings of the post-mortal life as simply a continuation and enhancement of this mortal life - with more of our desires fulfilled, and less of the sufferings. 

These are seen as wish-fulfilment merely - and wish-fulfilment is not (by such an analysis) distinguished from selfish day-dreaming fantasies (e.g. imagining post-mortal luxuries of sex, feasting and/or fighting - according to taste). 

It was probably not until the advent of Mormonism from 1830 that an explicitly maximalist understanding of Heaven (more consistent with the Gospels, common-sensically understood - especially the Fourth gospel) was rediscovered and linked with a metaphysical theology. 

This included a focus on marriage and procreation, family life, and co-creative activities in loving cooperation with God the Father - and a "evolutionary" emphasis on divine creation as eternally "ongoing", continuous, eternally being added-to. 

Ultimately, as always, this question of minimalist versus maximalist understanding of Heaven, reduces to a question of personal discernment based on the deepest intuition that we can arrive-at. Having consciously clarified our awareness of the alternatives, we each need to decide which are true possibilities, and which we most desire for our-selves.


Note: This post was stimulated by a comment from NLR at the NCP Blog


Ftan said...

Bruce, you've probably read up on this, so what has been the thinking about why there is any matter/ existence at all?

hdv said...

"This included a focus on marriage and procreation, family life, and co-creative activities in loving cooperation with God the Father - and a "evolutionary" emphasis on divine creation as eternally "ongoing", continuous, eternally being added-to."

Sounds great! Where do I sign up :)

Thank you for your thoughts on this topic -- very helpful!

Bruce Charlton said...

Ftan - Every metaphysical "system" has to have primary assumptions; when we reach a point of saying "it Just Is" - or else that there is an infinite regress of causes.

What seems right to me is that "matter and existence) Just Is (and always has been). But I don't think there ever was or is just unalive/ dead matter - so matter is a misleading word.

Instead, I assume that there always-have-been Beings (to some degree with properties of being alive and conscious) - these Beings have existed from forever and are eternal - but they are dynamic, and change through time.

So there is no why about existence. Instead, the why I acknowledge is about creation - why did God embark upon creation, creating from already existing Beings of many kinds?

(The short answer is "Love".)

Bruce Charlton said...

'hdv - The next step for you should be to plumb your intuition to its depth - about whether what you most desire is true, and possible.

That's a decision/ choice you should make for yourself, from your-self; taking personal responsibility for your answer.

Crosbie said...

The popular understanding of heaven sounds like a high-end psychiatric hospital.

Francis Berger said...

Back when I was a kid in Catholic school, a priest asked of if we wanted to go to heaven. Everyone nodded, but one of my classmates timidly asked what we would do there. The priest informed us we would experience the beatific vision, be with God, serve Him, and eternally sing His praises.

He never explained what "serving Him" meant, but I distinctly remember finding that vision of Heaven, well, uninviting. Even then -- as an 10-year-old (I think I was 10) -- I wondered why God would want me to sing his praises forever and ever. Of course, there is a bit more to the Catholic idea of Heaven than that, but in essence, that is what it comes down to.

Ftan said...

Thanks for the helpful response. In retrospect, I think I meant to ask 'how' instead of 'why', but perhaps the answer is the same or very similar.

Mia said...

Well, I am not a Mormon, but I have been struck by (or really appalled by) the shoddiness of the critiques of Mormon metaphysics from Christians. Being surrounded by American Protestants, the most common critique is works-righteousness, which just doesn't even begin to make sense. But people's beliefs are such a muddled, unserious mess, and they have no interest in sorting them out.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Mia - Well hardly anybody outside of the CJCLDS has much knowledge of, or interest in, Mormon metaphysics and theology - so they nearly always get it seriously wrong.

I used to hope, and to some extent expect, that their deep theology would prevent the CJCLDS from becoming aligned with the evil agenda of the globalist totalitarians - however, I was wrong about that.

They went all-in on the 2020- birdemic-vax-lockdown agenda; have failed antiracism and diversity litmus tests; and even (amazingly) last I heard had begun to provide tacit (and financial) support to aspects of the sexual revolution and even trans- agendas - despite that this starkly contradicts their theology!

It seems that the problem of Western "church Christianity" as such is so very bad, that it makes little difference *overall* whether a Christian church is Catholic (Eastern or Western), protestant, Mormon, or any other particular denomination.

Apparently different churches vary in the specific profile of their corruptions, but all are significantly aligned with the agenda of evil, and are on the same downward path.

Hagel said...

Surely everything that's good and lovely in mortal life would be present,
if indeed it's truly good. Right?

But in Matthew 22:23 - 22:33, the Christ is asked, if someone marries and the spouse dies, and remarries, which marriage would be kept in heaven? and his response was that at the resurrection, people will not marry, but will be like angels.

What's up with that?

David Earle said...

Wholeheartedly agree. I am increasingly of the conviction that absence of sin leads to enhancement of life.

We are meant to get as close as possible to this during our mortal lives, and after death I suspect there is a transitional period where the dangers of all sin will be made blatantly obvious and we will have to make the choice to rid ourselves of those things we may have been most stubborn about and neglected, if we want to dwell in Heaven. Some may have a smoother transition than others. I imagine a confused dream-like state of consciousness that eventually leads to exponential clarity and the conscious choice to follow Jesus to resurrected eternal life.

Something else I think about is there is a limit to our understanding of the natural world during our mortal lives here on Earth. But in Heaven, we can perhaps fully recognize all things as living beings. This includes trees, plants, fungi, animals, the sun, the ocean, the weather. We can learn to understand for certain what purpose all these forms of life serve...

Bruce Charlton said...


You will need to make a judgment.

David Earle said...

I should clarify that of course avoidance of all sin is impossible during mortal life, but by getting close means to recognitize and repent when we fail, and to win those personal battles that present themselves when we are open to God working on us individually.

I can imagine how absence of sin in Heaven would be an enriched and maximalist life rather than minimalist, just from the small snippets of what we can experience here and now.

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - This business of the desire to avoid sin, and why we would want to do it - is probably another that it would be helpful to transform from a double negative to a positive.

I haven't properly sorted this for myself; but maybe it is more accurate (and simpler?) to say that:

One who desires Heaven would positively desire (and take joy in) living whenever possible in a Heavenly way - that is from-love, and in a a way that participates with divine creation?

John said...

It’s a difficult time for Mormons because they have no real tradition of having nothing but deference for the leader of the Church. How the theology has been taught is that the Prophet of course could make mistakes and such, but the Prophet would never lead you astray, and if he did God would prevent it. This deference extends not just to rank and file members but people in all positions of authority. This is different than what I’ve seen from orthodox Catholics who will hold a technical assent to Papal infallibility but in practice feel free to ignore what he says. Mormons feel much more uncomfortable doing this—they view Mormonism as a complete package, and so it feels to them that to challenge the current leaders is to challenge the entire thing. And it’s worth noting that the Mormons most willing to criticize leadership, historically and even now, are almost always progressives with bad motivations, who are often (whether they realize it or not) on their way to being completely out. What I mean to say is that dissent of any kind is associated with apostasy from the entire gospel, and so conservative Mormons feel very uncomfortable in engaging with any of it. Your own way of regarding Mormon theology would probably be unfamiliar (but perhaps quite useful) to them.

I do get the sense that the current leader is not nearly as revered as Thomas S Monson was—or at least lots of the reverence feels more or less forced to my ears. And not being allowed to use the term “Mormon” has been felt to be an annoyance by even the most faithful of members. But unless they’ve done the personal work in thinking through their assumptions, or have the strongest of trust in their own faculties of discernment, they have a lot of trouble with this dissonance, and no obvious solution.

(I don’t know if you want to get into this kind of detail of this blog but I thought this might be helpful)

Bruce Charlton said...

@John. Thanks for that - which is how it seems to me from the outside.

The root problem is that there are some pretty stark inconsistencies, that are actually incoherence, in the way that the CJCLDS was set-up and developed. Especially between deep theology, and surface doctrines. And these have never been worked out.

It seems to me that "church order" issues came to dominate very quickly, under Brigham Young, and that this was very successful for the church (in terms of growth and engagement) for a long time - even among Western populations.

But this is an external and worldly understanding of church success. The worldly success of any church and its members depends on compliance with The World. When The World was broadly Christian, there was not a big problem.

But when The World has been pulling in the opposite direction from (and actively subverting) the Christian spirit; when there is totalitarianism whereby all institutions *must* bureaucratically-conform to the ideology in order to survive - well, that is what we have.

The fact that the CJCLDS is increasingly corrupt and has adopted anti-Christian values is not distinctive to it, but applies to all current institutions of any significant size, wealth, power.

Mormonism's spiritual problems of a passive and externally-controlled Christianity is not really necessary and could be otherwise; because Mormonism's deep metaphysical insights into the nature of reality and Man's place in it, are unique - if these can be grasped and followed through.

These insights ought to be recognized as one of the greatest achievements of human understanding in many centuries - rather than being ignored (including, sadly, by nearly all Mormons).

Bruce Charlton said...

@John - Just to clarify: The model of Mormonism developed by Brigham was stunningly successful for 150 years or so - as Rodney Stark demonstrated. Its trajectory of growth and devoutness was very much like that of Christianity in the same timescale, and Mormonism was en route (it seemed) to be the next major world religion.

When I got interested in Mormonism (at first as a atheist) I was amazed at the remarkable way (as shown by statistics) in which Mormons achieved worldly success and integration, while maintaining high fertility and a high independence from "liberal" social trends. One case study was Mormon domination of Harvard Business School - maybe the premier world business school (the CIA was another).

Yet, in the end (and contrary to my optimistic hopes) Mormonism did Not leaven the HBS, the CIA or Western civilization - rather Western-left ideology subverted Mormonism.

I mistook a transitional stage in assimilation for a sustainable relationship between church and world.

This-worldly corruption was delayed in the CJCLDS compared with the mainstream Protestant and Catholic denominations; but corruption was only delayed, not prevented.


I think this may have been prevented if the signs had been recognized early enough, and before corruption had affected the leadership (and if the core important Christian issues had been focused-upon and insisted upon, instead of continuing to double-down on secondary "lifestyle" - e.g. diet and deportment - and "church order" issues) - and The World had been sacrificed to an Amish-like separatism (as in the pre-1900 era).

A new Deseret! - but at the cost of much loss of wealth, power and influence.

This would probably have been crushed by the federal government and mass media - but the fight might well have sustained and increased spiritual strength. Instead, there has been and is the usual gradual, seedy and dishonest, assimilation to the ideology mainstream atheistic leftism.

John said...

Interesting, thanks.

Now it’s strange looking back at triumphalist sense everyone had not too long ago (and that I was steeped in growing up) that the Church would just keep growing and growing. And not just in the Church, it’s funny reading Harold Bloom’s somewhat hysterical predictions of Mormon political domination of the American West. Now when looking at the missionary program—and not denying that the missionary experience still remains highly valuable and effective at spreading the truth to many—its awkward, almost embarrassing when you know what a sizable portion of these missionaries are leaving the Church not long after they complete their service. In my mind the proselyting enterprise doesn’t have the same legitimacy, doesn’t feel the same as it once did, though perhaps fortunately most people don’t know enough about these internal crises to be cynical like this.

“Mormonism's spiritual problems of a passive and externally-controlled Christianity is not really necessary and could be otherwise”

I got the sense studying Joseph Smith that revelation was the big thing, that he really wanted everybody to in a sense be a prophet, and with a kind of enthusiasm that you don’t really find anywhere. Even from the beginning with Oliver Cowdery attempting to translate--that's kind of remarkable to me.

“Yet, in the end (and contrary to my optimistic hopes) Mormonism did Not leaven the HBS, the CIA or Western civilization - rather Western-left ideology subverted Mormonism.”

That seems to be the key. The corporate-but-Christian aesthetic may be 20th century Mormonism’s greatest innovation—and so bizarre coming from the religion which practiced communalism in the 19th—but also the most precarious. It’s a particular way of viewing the world that will extend to everything, even the manner that scriptures are read.

Bruce Charlton said...

@John -

Objectively, and according to its original objectives of conversion, the missionary program has failed. (The first mission to England got three converts per day on average, as I recall; most of whom subsequently emigrated to Salt Lake City.) Since the mission is a means to an end, it represents a colossal misplaced effort.

(I actually regard the formal and prescribed mission, its 2 year length - and the way it is conducted in the severing of close family links, to be wrongly motivated... at least for modern Men's consciousness. I regard it as against the spirit of original Joseph Smith Mormonism - and another example of church order benefits being put before the individual spirit. I doubt you agree, but that's how it seems to me.)

I really hope that those who leave the CJCLDS do not feel that they need to stop being "Mormons" - because, of all Christian denominations of which I am aware, Mormonism is the one best suited to serious Christian practice while unaffiliated.

With (almost-) every man a priest; in principle there is no *need* for a central and organized leadership at all.

(Yet instead there is a massively increased programme of centralization via Temple building. That's another issue, but I shall say no more here.)

This exactly because (as you said) of the *foundational* and very strong emphasis on personal revelation. And also because of the strongly "evolutionary" nature of the underlying metaphysics and theology, with its endless scope for development, for theosis ("exaltation") - including post-mortally.

John said...

“Since the mission is a means to an end, it represents a colossal misplaced effort.”

Yeah it increasingly has become regarded as the end itself, as a pro-growth experience first of all (that parents want for their children, that leaders want for the youth, that you want for yourself). Though this of course isn’t the official attitude or stated reason for service.

From what I can tell a lot (most?) of these distortions may be attributed to the incursion of the self-help mentality.

Bruce Charlton said...

@John - It may be symptomatic of deeper (and typically modern, not specifically Mormon) problems to do with lack of strict and habitual honesty, and the deficiency/ suppression of a creatively-engaged attitude to Christianity, and a bureaucratic-minded risk-aversion. Hence the tendency of modern institutions (including CJCLDS) to double-down ever-harder on failed strategies.

Daniel F said...

"It may be symptomatic of deeper (and typically modern, not specifically Mormon) problems to do with lack of strict and habitual honesty."

If I can separate out the strictly theoretical and objectively theological aspects of Mormonism, and the “real world” Mormonism that one encounters in real life interactions, I must say that I have (nearly) always been struck by a fundamentally *dishonest* attitude in how Mormons deal with outsiders. Not the dishonesty of basic morality – they are invariably highly moral in all of the fundamentals of basic ethics – but rather dishonesty in how they hope to introduce people to their faith and also more generally about the workings of their culture more generally: To put it charitably, it may be a sort of fortress mentality, where perhaps because they feel misunderstood and abused, and therefore they are justified in using various sorts of disingenuousness, subterfuge and falsity in dealing with outsiders.

But I always find this extremely off-putting because Christianity, to me, should reflect a naiveté, openness and transparency, a kind of vulnerability perhaps that holds within it a hopeful and optimistic attitude; and I find this lacking (generally) in the Mormons I encounter.

Related to this, I often find that they are extremely uncomfortable and put-off with people who reveal a degree of understanding of their religion: Some sense that “I was supposed to indoctrinate this person, or to control the narrative, and now I need to figure out how to handle this chaotic situation of someone having some to knowledge outside of my control.” A common response I have encountered in discussions with a Mormon when I show a more than passing familiarity with Mormon metaphysics and theology, is a sort of nervous laughter, and an inclination to disengage with me rather than to pursue the conversation.

Again, to put the best light on this, it may be because they are used to most such people having a prejudice and negative attitude about Mormonism (which is not the case with me, largely due to Bruce’s ebook and a few other theological texts I have read; I am actually very positively predisposed to Mormon metaphysics). Yet, I still sense something more at play when I try to analyze the psychology, which is “cult-like” and offputting. I can only liken it to something like Scientology, which wants to induct people on their own terms and then control them once they are in the organization, or even Islam, with its notion of “taqiyya”, or precautionary dissembling with non-Muslims. So, beyond the metaphysics and theology of the religion, there is -- in my experience -- also a cultural dynamic at play that has nothing (?) to do with the tenets of the religion and which I have generally found distasteful.

I’m not sure overall what to make of my experience, but that is what it has been. And again, I will emphasize that in terms of the metaphysics and theology of Mormonism, I am open, interested and not at all hostile to their teachings.

(And, obviously, I am not saying one only encounters honesty among other Christians; my point is that there is a sort of commonality, almost of modus operandi, in my own dealings with Mormons that leads me to think there is something in their upbringing, training and experience that leads to a widespread similarity of psychology and believe in how they think they are to deal with outsiders.)

John said...

@ Daniel F

Its funny that you describe them as cult-like because this is the exact impression they are most anxious to avoid in their interactions with you, but this anxiety becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy.

I believe the dishonesty you are describing comes from insecurity, less because of a history of persecution and a distrust of outsiders but because of discomfort in their own intellectual conscience, which comes from the situation as summed up exactly by what Bruce said above:

“The root problem is that there are some pretty stark inconsistencies, that are actually incoherence, in the way that the CJCLDS was set-up and developed. Especially between deep theology, and surface doctrines. And these have never been worked out.”

For better or worse, and even though the possibility of receiving revelation is always mentioned, members of the CJCLDS have not been taught to work out incoherencies with an attitude of fearlessness. One would be invited to put any incoherencies or contradictions “on the shelf”, trusting that all would make sense in time (this phrasing which used to be quite common has been co-opted by apostates, to great success, with the term “break the shelf” as in “what broke my shelf was…”).

If for example young man takes especial interest in “deep doctrine” (pronouncing this term with mock gravity) this may be respected and even, depending on the case, encouraged but also made the subject of ironical comment—never regarded as the ideal of what a Mormon should be doing. It is also not uncommon for anti-Mormon content (described shorthand as “anti”, inflecting this word with a palpable sense of dread (I always found this comical)) to be regarded as though it were pornography.

This culture was obviously pathological and caused huge problems with the advent of the internet which spread aspects of Church history that had been understated or concealed, and unfortunately it seems that the vast majority of people who leave do so only to embrace atheism/leftism.

Growing up I often felt a strong and instinctive dislike for much of Mormon culture, which is what above all is what made the notion that (as extravagantly claimed) this really was God’s one true Church upon the earth difficult for me to accept. And this despite being about as “genetically Mormon” as one could be, having a pretty much continuous testimony of Joseph Smith my entire life, and for the most part enjoying the actual practice of the religion itself. So I feel I have some understanding of what it feels like to believe in Mormonism fully and yet feeling embarrassed of being Mormon—and I think this experience is fairly common, though the reasons for embarrassment will vary for the individual. Overall, I believe the “cult-like” or authoritarian tendencies in practiced Mormonism come from a sense of self-distrust—basically a failure to actually be Mormon.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Daniel F and John - Thanks for that fascinating exchange.

Ftan said...

Yes, an interesting exchange. It looks like active Mormons have been put in the precarious position of determining whether to maintain personal integrity or follow the leadership as they acquiesce to the expectations of the dominant 'leftist' culture. And the ever-advancing temple building is highly questionable.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ftan - The point I take from this is simply that the CJCLDS has followed the same trajectory as Methodism, Baptists, of England, Roman Catholic Church and all the other big Western denominations - but with a bit of a time lag, and with the major Litmus Test failures reflecting the specifci vulnerabilities of the CJCLDS.

To put it differently, convergence with totalitarianism affects all existing major Western institutions (no exceptions); but exactly how this begins and develops is always a bit distinctive - even though the end point will be the same.

It is these small differences that seem to make it possible for people in converging institutions to deny that convergence is actually happening and significant - a "but we are not like them" kind of thing.

SACarmack said...

While I am not here to recommend the various affiliated institutions, I do recommend the Book of Mormon, since it is quite likely that Joseph Smith didn't author it; indeed, that he didn't even word it (see 2n2724), on account of its impressive archaic lexicon (both nonbiblical and biblical), and its mostly attested and archaic (though very often nonbiblical) syntax. In general, the level of textual archaism clearly surpasses that of the best, roughly contemporaneous pseudo-biblical texts.

The 1829 dictation language can be read freely online.

Some of what you'll see in the original text is an early modern 'plain' style, some Elizabethan English, some George Fox–style English, touches of John Bunyan, Scottish English "save it «be»" (125×), etc. There's a mixture, but most of it is early modern in character (even the 'bad' grammar).

Lucinda said...

For what it's worth-

I've been a member of the CJCLDS for my whole life. I consider myself believing, but I've learned to have boundaries, and try to take responsibility for what I decide in my taking and leaving of the beliefs. I'm also a believer of a good many of Bruce Charlton's Notions. My situation is maybe unique since I have so very many children (just gave birth to a new little one last month) so my eccentricity is probably given more room than most people would have.
I'd like to make a couple of analogies. First, I think a cradle religion is like a childhood family. They aren't perfect, sometimes downright broken, but necessary. But when one becomes an adult, it's expected that one will leave some of the family habits behind and forge their own path. (I actually got this idea from this blog when Bruce spoke about the advantage of being a cradle member, not having to explicitly assent as an adult to many tenets.) Maybe it's easy for me to believe in the good motivations of church leaders, despite failures, because my own father failed badly as a husband to my mom, remains unapologetic, and yet I know he hopes the best for his family.
The second analogy maybe more of an extension. I have always been a picky eater, to my mother's frustration, and I now am mother to quite a few picky eaters. I have learned over the years how to make cookies that maximize the eggs, and minimize the sugar, but still are eagerly consumed. Some parents can impose healthy food preference on their youngsters, who successfully take these teachings into adulthood, but some parents are too unrealistic, and their children are bound to rebel (for instance those who seek to cut out sugar entirely.)
A heaven that is easy and relaxing and empty is like sugar in cookies. A heaven that continues to be engaging and full of life and love is like the eggs. Most people as they develop beyond spiritual immaturity need to feel like the difficulties will come to an end somehow. On the other side, I haven't encountered a spiritually mature person who believed that heaven dispensed with loving relationship, love that entails tolerance and individuality, despite official minimalist teachings of their religions.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - Thanks for the comment - and congratulations on your new baby!

"I haven't encountered a spiritually mature person who believed that heaven dispensed with loving relationship, love that entails tolerance and individuality, despite official minimalist teachings of their religions."

There may well be something almost inevitable about this.

I wonder if it will turn-out (i.e. when we get there!) that the greatest contribution of the CJCLDS will has been the detailed, realistic, explicit discussions of Heaven; and the understanding that it is a place of "doing" (including pro-creating - although I would like to see more emphasis on creation of a more general kind as well) - and the emphasis on (bodily) resurrection.