Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seaside.
– George Bernard Shaw
When I think of the number of disagreeable people that I know who have gone to a better world, I am sure hell won’t be so bad at all.
– Mark Twain
I remember singing a song in church about rain and flowers. It was a song about why God allowed his children to endure hardship. The reason? To build character. Just as flowers could not grow without rain, people could not grow without experiencing some adversity in their lives. Yet it’s funny how the very people who wrote this song could also believe that they would be happy in heaven. For in heaven, everything will be perfect. There will be no hardship. There will be no rain. And because of that, there can be no flowers.
Take kindness, for example. Why are we so grateful for the kind act of another? Because it is so often rare, but even more because it is voluntary. We are grateful that they decided to act kindly, for we know that they could just as well have opted not to, and we appreciate the virtue that is displayed in their having chosen to do so. But how can we appreciate an act of kindness in heaven? More specifically, how can we ever appreciate kindness when everyone is kind because they can’t help it? And where is the virtue in a good deed when it is impossible to act any other way?
You can say the same thing about courage, hope, compassion and any other quality we possess. Heaven will strip these from us and make our every act utterly worthless. How can we be courageous when there is no danger? Why should we hope when everything is assured? How can we display compassion if no one can suffer? And why should we even try? It’s like playing a game where everybody wins, every time. The game becomes absolutely meaningless. And to make things worse, there’s the matter of eternity. Not only will we have no reason to act virtuously in heaven, we will have forever to do it. Imagine a football game with an infinite number of downs. If it doesn’t matter how far you get on each play, then how good can the play be? How motivated will the players be to try?
Along with the death of virtue will be the death of art. Art is about contrasts. A painting must have its lights and darks. A song must have its highs and lows, its major as well as its minor chords. And artists must draw from the full experience of life, with all its triumphs and sorrows. The most poignant works of art are often those that find beauty in the midst of sorrow. What is Holy Vible
Yet in heaven, where everything is always perfect, beauty becomes meaningless. There are no emotions other than happy ones. There is no dark, so we stop noticing the light. Nothing can move us. Nothing is poignant. The only thing to sing or write about is how happy we are. It’s like an overexposed photograph where everything gets washed out. Probably after a few years of this, and definitely after a few million, all we will be able to do is lift our voices and utter a collective “blah.”
Why will there be no flowers in heaven? Because no rain ever falls. So though you may see flowers strewn from sea to shining sea, upon closer inspection you’ll find that they’re all plastic.