Monday 4 May 2020

Why must hope be located after this mortal life?

Because the nature of this mortal life is that it is transient - intrinsically prone to corruption (decay, disease, death). Our hope - to remain hope - needs to be in that which lasts.

That eternal life of Heaven which Jesus gave us, if we wish to have it; is not merely about you and me not-dying. It is about that permanence which cannot be had in mortal life.

Hope needs to be in some situation where we can build to last. Because on earth nothing lasts, not even the earth itself.

Mortal transience isn't some kind of a divine mistake nor punishment. Transience is essential. Our mortal life on this earth is always changing because it is designed for our learning. Here and now; we can create but it will not last: our mortal creating is for the purpose of our learning.

And, on the other side, heaven is about creating, not learning. Heaven is not much of a place for learning - Heaven is designed for creation.

So there is a polarity between learning and creating: one cannot have learning without creating, nor creating without learning; but earthly mortal life is strongly orientated towards learning, while Heaven is orientated towards creation.

On earth nothing lasts, and if mortality was everything then hope will die.

But in Heaven all good things last, and actual hopes stay true.


Matthew T said...

This might sounds a bit morbid, or depressing, or worrying, and I don't mean it to come off that way, because I am really doing quite well.

But it's just to say that the older I get, the more I understand why plenty of old people really don't give a fig about dying. You mean I can get to go someplace better than this current dystopia where no one ever learns and things are "going to the bad" throughout every age - yes please!

Bruce Charlton said...

@MT - I think that some people live until they learn what is necessary, and then are 'allowed' to die. This, perhaps especially, among those who die in the womb, or around birth. Others refuse to learn something they need, and hang around for years, being given further chances. Thus a long life may be worse than a short one.

But in reality, each mortal situation is tailored for each individual, and we can seldom know 'why' for other people than ourselves.

Jacob Gittes said...

Could it also be possible that some people enjoy learning, have a lot to learn, and even a lot to teach others (loved ones) on this earth? I have a strong inner feeling that some longs lives are blessings, and others curses. It's up to the individual.

There's an older joke, related by William James:
Question: "Is life worth living?"
Answer: "It depends on the liver."

Yes, there is a double-entendre there, as people used to (rightly?) believe that the organ called the liver had a lot to do with one's mental/spiritual state.

Sean G. said...

I was a materialist Christian(though I would have denied it) until somewhat recently when I began actively imagining heaven and practicing Christian meditation. Before that my hope existed primarily in this world, and building a "good life", so my anxiety was a demon I could never quite escape. I'm not about to declare victory, but this was as profound a change for me as I've ever experienced and I have to thank you Dr. Charlton for the inspiration.

Hope in this world always leads to a dead end.

I can relate to what Mathew is saying (I'm not too concerned with dying), but to Jakes point, I desperately want to live for my family, and selfishly I want to see my kids grow up.

G. said...

There are things wonderful and beautiful in this world, and it is possible to live and do things much greater than we think.

But they don't last.

So we can hope for better things in the life to come.

Or we can have a hope that nothing is really lost. Every moment and every goodness lasts forever and is ever present. The defeats are only apparent.

Or we can hope for both.

Bruce Charlton said...

@G - We need to make a metaphysical decision about whether time is really real, or not. My feeling is that for Christians time is real - (minimally) since Jesus Christ was located in history. If time is real; then lasting forever is possible, but forever present is not.