Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Heaven on their minds

This is fun. By way of Andrew Sullivan's blog at The Atlantic online, I found this review of After Lives: A Guide to Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, a history of the evolution of the nature and shape of those afterlives. Having finished this term teaching Paradise Lost, in the course of which I always do a riff on the geography of Heaven and Hell as imagined by Milton—in contrast, most specifically, to Dante—this is a book I think I need to add to my summer reading. I was asked by a student when we started imagining Heaven as being a giant cloud inhabited by bewinged, harp-playing angels, and I had no answer. Aside from those asinine Philly Cheese commercials, I honestly couldn't tell you.

This is my favourite part of the review:

Many writers on heaven, from Philo of Alexandria onwards, are inclined to stress the intellectual delights of heaven. Philo seems to think that all the saved will be able to indulge in philosophy seminars, making heaven a kind of Oxford graduate college, like All Souls. My own favourite is the image of some medieval rabbis, who saw heaven as a vast, quiet, peaceful library, where books jumped down from the shelves when you nodded to them, and soft-footed librarians dispersed cooling mint drinks.

That sounds pretty good to me.


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SOS said...

As I study Paradise Lost (and your blog), I look around the MUN library and I wonder....where's my damned mint drink? I'm trying to make a heaven of this hell, and I want my damned mint drink.

P.S. That Philly Cheese lady has been dipping into the product. Her heavenly thighs are no more. They fired her and told her to go to hell.