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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Heaven on Earth

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Awhile back, heaven was frequently on my mind. How you get there, what it looks like and who's there. Problem is, the more I thought and studied, the less sure I was that any non-speculative answers existed. Which is why I was so excited when I read Rob Bell's Love Wins. His description of heaven (and hell) I could get behind.

In Chapter 2, Bell talks about a piece of art that hung in his grandmother's house. The massive cross was suspended in space, floating above an ominous red and black realm that threatened to swallow up whoever took a wrong step. There was a gleaming, bright city with a wall around it and lots of sunshine. Inside the city he was sure there were people dressed in white robes playing harps while walking on streets of gold. Us mormons might not have the exact same picture in our heads, but we too have cultural images of heaven crafted by decades of general conference talks.

The one thing that unites all this speculation, Bell says, is the generally agreed-upon notion that heaven is somewhere else. So we all ask ourselves ...

What will we do all day in heaven?
Will we be with our family and friends?
What will heaven look like?
Will I lose my spare tire and get all my hair back?

And some of us aren't very motivated by the answers. Which is sad.

So is there a different way of thinking about heaven? Bell points out that those who talk most about going to heaven when they die talk the least about bringing heaven to earth right now, and those who talk the most about relieving suffering now talk the least about heaven when they die.

Bell then suggests dragging the future into the present. Not an ethereal, intangible, esoteric and immaterial heaven, but heaven on earth. An eternal life that is less about a kind of time that starts when we die, but more about a quality and vitality of life lived now, on earth.

Grasping on to this way of thinking, Cher and I have tried to get outdoors more. We've tried to create more memorable experiences with the kids. We've spent more timing talking to each other before we fall asleep. We've tried to be more honest, kinder to others and less stingy with our time and money. Believing that we can create our own heaven on earth has been ... well, heavenly.

How do you help create a heaven on earth for yourself or your family? To get your creative juices flowing, here is JAY Z talking about what heaven on earth means to him.

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