Tuesday 8 June 2021

Do you want Heaven, or the other place, or nothing? Childhood - Single Adulthood - Marriage/ Parenthood

Here comes a big generalization... 

We can divide a long and archetypal human life into three phases of 1. childhood, followed by 2. single adulthood then 3. marriage and parenthood (shortly after which, in most traditional societies, came death). 

Indeed, we can divide life into just two phases - family, and not-family.  

Then we need to make an imaginative evaluation of these phases in terms of potential. This evaluation may be based on personal experience to varying degrees - but mainly on our capacity to intuit the ideal

So: which is our personal ideal as the greatest phase of potential human living? Is it family life. Or is it the phase of not family life? 

In 2021, in the mainstream modern world as we get it from the global government and the mass media; from major social institutions (such as law, economics, education, science, most churches) - there is an explicit or implicit endorsement of the ideal of not-family life. 

Most people aspire to an ideal not-family life; as providing the greatest scope for what they most want. 

The potential of human existence is based-upon some version of an idealized young, single-adult life - involving some combination of wealth, power, freedom, high status, fame and attention, travel and leisure, excitement and comfort; lots of preferred-type sex with attractive others and without guilt, strings or recriminations... 

Underpinned by our own beauty, sexuality, charm, intelligence, dominance, strength and fitness, perfect health and immunity to illness, disease and ageing. 

For many decades (since the 1960s, for sure) such an ideal of human life has been perfectly normal, general, official and counter-cultural, and unremarkable...

 It is absolutely opposed to Christianity, and what Christianity has to offer.  

Christianity is of potential appeal to those who see, at the ideal level, the highest form of human life as being in some sense (and there are many possible senses) family

Or, in other words, a life based on love (and from that love: creativity - which is the manifestation of love-through-time). 

Because Heaven is an eternal familial existence.

Our world is divided into those who regard an ideal family as their ideal life; and those who regard not-family as their ideal life.  

Therefore for mainstream, normal modern people who endorse the young/ single/ adult ideal of free and maximally-pleasurable living - Heaven is sub-optimal at best and an horrific prospect at worst.  

Our world is thus divided into those who regard Heaven as Heaven - and those who regard Heaven as Hell...

And Hell as Heaven.

Note: There is another category; those who do not want family, and do not want not-family; because they do not want to remain people/ selves/ egos. They want an end to separateness - annihilation of the personal human in themselves. They want, in other words, nothing - in one form or another. When they die they want either the (blissful?) spiritual-nothing of Nirvana-oneness; or else the total-nothing of atheism - but either way, they don't want to know anything about it.  


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Single adulthood wasn’t even a thing for most people in history; you left your birth family only to get married. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his wife.”

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - Exactly! And yet it has become the ideal. Which explains A Lot.

Gary Bleasdale said...

At first, struck me as a strange piece, but upon reflection I find no fault with it.

And in hindsight it has a lot of explanatory power.

David Earle said...

I think modern people envision Heaven as an eternal Sunday Church sermon which probably sounds horrifying.

I think the idea of eternity can be overwhelming, regardless of how creative, fulfilling, loving or meaningful it may be, so people rather opt for nothingness bliss (as they imagine their pre-mortal lives were).

When people say they'd prefer Hell over Heaven (because it sounds more fun, all my friends will be there, etc) I found it effective to remind them that as I understand it, Hell is the absence of all the things we enjoy here on Earth such as love, friendship, relationships, happiness, hope.