Episode 58:
Golden Fields of Glee
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Editorial Notes

This strip probably took over a year to complete, and maybe two. Iím not referring to the graphics, but rather to the song that the sheep are singing. Iíve spent many years going to church and singing songs whose lyrics contained archaic expressions, so I wondered how many of those expressions I could pack into a single hymn. Of course, Iíd have to make up a new hymn, and it would probably be just about the worst hymn ever written. Still, it gave me something to think about while I was stuck in traffic on the way to work .

The first verse came rather quickly, and Iíve forgotten how long ago that happened. It took all the way until the past week for the second verse to come together. And, I think the second verse is actually worse than the first. I didnít think that could be done.

I also found that Iíd come up with a song that was about heaven. Perhaps thatís because Iíd sung so many songs about that very subject, or perhaps just a few songs with particularly archaic expressions. Interestingly, it was within the past month that I finished the book "The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God" by Dallas Willard. This is a profound book that I would recommend to any Christian.

In this book, Dallas Willard raises the question of whether or not we are making an effort during our lives on Earth to prepare for heaven. Is heaven something we are expected to prepare for?

Itís easy to assume that when we are resurrected to begin the next, eternal part of our life that everything that is wrong about us here and now is somehow "fixed" between here and Heaven. Do you have a problem, say with greed perhaps? Donít worry. Youíre saved by "grace through faith" so your greed problem will just be one of the many things about you that will be fixed before youíre "rebooted" in the hereafter.

But is this a valid assumption? Dallas Willard forced me to consider that perhaps the place to fix my problems is here on Earth during this life, and that perhaps when we pass into the next life our faults and foibles are "fixed" in the sense that they become permanent. Thatís a scary thought.

Is Heaven a joyful "nothing" or a joyful "something?" Of course Heaven is a wonderful place, and it was not my purpose to deride Heaven or the biblical descriptions of it. What I get tired of is the "Mansion Over the Hill Top" stuff. Thereís an old hymn that says,

Iím satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver, a little gold
But in that city, where the mansion shall shine
I want a gold one, thatís silver lined

Well, that may motivate some people, but it doesnít do much for me. Wouldnít just sitting around in my gold building get old after a while? Eternity is a long time. Not that I wouldnít be grateful for a gold building to live in, but sooner or later there must be something to do.

Perhaps thatís what Jesus was getting at in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25). The servants that turned a profit on what they were given to work with were given greater responsibilities when their master returned. Perhaps heaven is a place where weíll have responsibilities, and they will be somehow in proportion to the character we formed during this life.

Now if I could just find a hymn about that.

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