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The Giant Permanent

Last week, I posted about Marina Keegan’s idea of having an anti-nihilism device. This one is about her concept of eternal life. In two different essays, she notes her fear that the sun will burn out. The universe will freeze over. All is lost. This is how she describes it in her essay Song for the Special:

“If you didn’t already know this, the sun is going to die.When I think about the future, I don’t think about inescapable ends. But even if we solve global warming and destroy nuclear bombs and control population, ultimately, the human race will annihilate itself if we stay here. Eventually, inevitably, we will no longer be able to live on Earth: We have a giant fireball clock ticking down twilight by twilight. But maybe there’s hope.”

Later in the essay:

“The thing is, someday the sun is going to die and everything on Earth will freeze. This will happen. Even if we end global warming and clean up our radiation. The complete works of William Shakespeare, Monet’s lilies, all of Hemingway, all of Milton, all of Keats, our music libraries, our library libraries, our galleries, our poetry, our letters, our names etched in desks. I used to think printing things made them permanent, but that seems so silly now. Everything will be destroyed no matter how hard we work to create it. The idea terrifies me. I want tiny permanents. I want gigantic permanents!”

What’s the solution?:

“I read somewhere that radio waves just keep traveling outwards, flying into the universe with eternal vibrations. Sometime before I die I think I’ll find a microphone and climb to the top of a radio tower. I’ll take a deep breath and close my eyes because it will start to rain right when I reach the top. Hello, I’ll say to outer space, this is my card.”

Her answer for eternal life is finding a microphone strong enough to make her voice go on forever. Christians believe we don’t need a big microphone. We need a big Savior. Christ took the cold. His father turned cold against him so that he could make his face shine on us. And this is eternal life. It’s the only giant permanent.

Quotes from Marina Keegan, The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories. Read the essay online HERE.

Recent Reading: For All the Saints?, by N.T. Wright

I could gripe about this book, there’s no doubt (I disagreed with quite a bit of it). But that’s not why I write these posts. I write (see my ‘About’ page) to record instant impressions and applications. I like to think that any book on Christian doctrine can edify me in one way or another, regardless of how much, or little, I agree with.

Wright debunks the doctrine of purgatory quite well, which I appreciate. His take on prayer in relation to the dead has made me think. I’m still evaluating.

Most of all, I applaud Wright’s concern to remind Christians that heaven is not our ultimate and final destination. I’ve had issues with this in the past in dealing with folks. I once had a lady tell me that she didn’t want to live eternally if it meant she couldn’t stay in heaven for eternity. Earth – been there, done that, bought the shot glass, don’t wanna go back.

‘But the presence of Christ is the real issue,’ I urged. ‘He will be on the earth after his second coming.’ She didn’t care. She just wanted wings and a puffy cloud. ‘But the new heavens and the new earth will be glorious,’ I contended. But it’s still the earth. ‘No, it’s a new earth – no sadness, no sorrow, peace in the valley, and all that.’ Not only did she ‘disagree’ with me (though most of the time I was basically quoting Revelation 21), she got mad – really mad.

I fear this is the sentiment of far too many Christians (though it might not make them quite as angry).

I do not know if Wright himself coined the term (but he was certainly the first to bring it to my attention), but his phrase, ‘life after life after death’ is memorable and helpful. This is what the Christian is ultimately looking forward to – not simply life after death, but life after life after death, in the new heavens and the new earth. I will certainly use this phrase in the future. And were it not for that phrase I probably would not be taking the time to write down my thoughts.

I urge folks regularly to read Revelation 21 and 22, along with Isaiah 65 and 66 concerning the after life (which I can now call ‘life after life after death’, or perhaps, ‘life after the afterlife,’ why not?). And so, if anyone happens across this post who has been troubled by this issue, I would humbly suggest that you read those chapters.It also wouldn’t hurt to read The Chronicles of Narnia as well, especially The Last Battle (though I’m certainly not comparing it with the Bible). C.S. Lewis’ depiction of the ‘new Narnia’ is brilliant. All that is lacking in that book, in my opinion, is redeemed by the vision of the new Narnia, further up and further in. I can’t imagine the Chronicles without that vision.