Search Results for Koran
The Koran¹ is the Holy Book of the Muslims, believed to be the word of God sent through the angelic messenger Gabriel to the apparently illiterate Mohammed. According to tradition, Mohammed recited the revelations to his fellows who set them to writing.
The translation of the Koran into non-Arabic languages is not sanctioned by some conservative Muslims, although more liberally-minded Muslims seem to favor translations of their scripture into several different languages. In Lebanon, a pop music star was given a five year prison sentence for setting verses of the Koran to his songs.
The Koran incorporates much of Jewish and Christian scripture but with significantly different meanings. Jesus, for instance, is not depicted as the son of God. Instead, Jesus and his mother Mary are apparently sent to provide good examples for mankind.
Also, the Koran teaches that Jesus, as a respected prophet, did not really die by crucifixion, and his death contributed nothing towards the salvation of Mankind (Surah 3:38-50).
Not unlike the Old Testament but quite unlike the New Testament (NT), holy war (killing in defense of the Muslim faith) is sanctioned in certain circumstances. This is called jihad. Unlike the NT, it’s rightful for men to have sex with not only their wife but also with “female slaves.”
Polygamus marriage is also sanctioned. That is, one man may have several wives. One woman, however may not have several husbands.
Interestingly, in his book Prayer of the Warrior, the Catholic writer Michael H. Brown talks about an alleged apparition where the Blessed Virgin Mary tells onlookers that a Muslim man living in a small Yugoslavian village is a saint. Apparently all of the Catholics in attendance were shocked to hear that this non-Christian man was favored by the Virgin Mary.
¹ See Wikipedia for alternate spellings: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qur%27an
- “New Translation Prompts Debate on Islamic Verse,” The New York Times, by NEIL MacFARQUHAR Published: March 25, 2007
- Learning koran with monaza . (inception1.wordpress.com)
- The Koran Is Burning (theundergroundconservative.wordpress.com)
- Would You Burn the Koran? Or Just Hit the ‘Delete’ Key? History’s View (politicsdaily.com)
- Sunday, March 20th / International Judge the Koran Day : Guilty! (theboldcorsicanflame.wordpress.com)
- Lesley Hazleton: On reading the Koran (irshadonline.wordpress.com)
- The Need for a Dialogue (bibleandkoran.wordpress.com)
- Sarah Palin on Facebook: Don’t Burn the Koran (politicsdaily.com)
- With Help From Terry Jones, Florida Church Burns Koran (newser.com)
- Muhammad Unmosqued (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
- Mary, Mother of All Humanity (deaconjohnspace.wordpress.com)
Allah is the Arabic word for God.
After a revelation given to the prophet Mohammed on Mount Hira, the name Allah referred to a single God. Previously the Arabic term Allah designated a supreme God among other gods.
The name was previously used by pagan Meccans as a reference to a creator deity, possibly the supreme deity in pre-Islamic Arabia. The concepts associated with the term Allah (as a deity) differ among religious traditions. In pre-Islamic Arabia amongst pagan Arabs, Allah was not considered the sole divinity, having associates and companions, sons and daughters–a concept that was deleted under the process of Islamization. In Islam, the name Allah is the supreme and all-comprehensive divine name, and all other divine names are believed to refer back to Allah. Allah is unique, the only Deity, creator of the universe and omnipotent.
Muslims believe that Mohammed is the greatest among many prophets to have walked the earth. As a prophet, Muslims believe that Mohammed is not equal to God, but is Allah’s great messenger. Muslims also believe that the word Allah is not the same as the ninety-nine beautiful names of God mentioned in the Koran.² On this point ABU ABDILLAH comments:
the word ALLAH is a word or name of God that encompasses all the ninety-nine other names that he the beneficent has. all the names of god are unique ans signify his majestic being and existence and all of these attributes belong to one “ALLAH”³
Arabic Christians use the term Allah to refer to ‘God, the Father’ (Allah al-ab).
³ From this entry’s comments.
- Christians not surprised at Allah ban, it was Umno trying to gain favour, says BBC (hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com)
- Allah is not exclusive to Islam, says Emirati editorial (hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com)
- ‘Allah’ Means ‘God,’ Unless You’re a Christian in Malaysia (world.time.com)
- The Malaysian ‘Allah’ ban is about putting minorities in their place | Nesrine Malik (theguardian.com)
- Word ‘Allah’ is not exclusive to Islam (dinmerican.wordpress.com)
- Malaysia court rules non-Muslims can’t use ‘Allah’ (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Non-Muslims cannot use ‘Allah’: Malaysian court (ibnlive.in.com)
Anthony Burgess (1917-94) was a British author. His most famous work is A Clockwork Orange (1962), a tale he reportedly whipped up in a few weeks to make some money. It’s a grisly and at times horrific story of Alex, a gang leader of a group of depraved thugs in an equally (although more subtly) depraved society.
While the original version of the book contained a 21st chapter with an optimistic ending, Burgess’ publisher only wanted 20 chapters. So the unsettling, open-ended conclusion that many of us know wasn’t Burgess’ initial intention.
In Stanley Kubrick‘s film adaptation (1971), which follows the 20 chapter version of the book, Alex is eventually abandoned and arrested after his gang of buddies become corrupt Bobbies.
Reprogrammed through image-association techniques¹ to detest sex and violence, Alex’s favorite composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven, is on the reprogramming soundtrack while he’s being “fixed.” After his treatment, not only antisocial images but also his favorite Beethoven music make him feel violently ill.
Alex ends up in the home of the bourgeois intellectual whom Alex and his mates had previously maimed while raping his wife (she later died from the violence).
The intellectual, now in a wheelchair, gets his revenge. He tortures Alex by playing nonstop Beethoven music. Alex then attempts suicide, is rescued by the authorities, all of which makes him a celebrity as local politicians see a photo op in appearing sympathetic to his plight.
Alex sees the opportunity too. He smiles and shakes everyone’s hand. He becomes a star and is duly rewarded for ‘playing the game.’
From a sociological perspective, the movie explores several themes. Perhaps, most obviously, A Clockwork Orange illustrates the idea that criminal justice systems often favor the rich and powerful at the expense of the struggling poor. Sadly, the rape scene in the novel and film was based on the real life rape of Burgess’ wife by four GI deserters during a blackout. Burgess was in the military himself at the time, stationed in Gibraltar. His wife possibly lost her unborn child as a result of the violence.
The plot of the book is similar but more complicated than the film and, as noted, originally had a 21st chapter. See http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/clockworkorange/summary.html for a summary.
Burgess wrote many less commercially successful novels, to include The End of the World News (1982). He apparently didn’t like to plan his stories too much, feeling that excessive outlines ruined the creative process. So he wrote a page at a time, pausing after each to think about the next.
Burgess was also an accomplished musician and composer. His works were broadcast on BBC and performed in America.
- Anthony Burgess and the Top Secret Code in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (dangerousminds.net)
- Anthony Burgess: Blooms of Dublin (1982) (atuneadayblogdotcom.wordpress.com)
- A Clockwork Orange Film Review (theeradicatorreviews.com)
- Anthony Burgess: Symphony No 3 (1974-5) (atuneadayblogdotcom.wordpress.com)
- Use Aaron’s Rod on Alex in a Clockwork Orange (bookandtravelblog.wordpress.com)
- “What’s it going to be then, eh?” (passionfordeadleaves.wordpress.com)
- An ever so slight theme. (malenkymozg.wordpress.com)
- A Clockwork Orange (1971) – by Ayse (schilleratthemovies.wordpress.com)
- A Clockwork Orange (1971) (dannifilm.wordpress.com)
- A Clockwork Orange [revisited] (theergot.wordpress.com)
In Jewish and Christian belief, based on the book of Genesis 2-3, Eden [Hebrew Eden: delight, pleasure] is the garden of paradise in which God first created mankind.
According to the Bible story, the first humans were vegetarians. God allowed them to eat of any fruit in the garden, except the fruit from the tree of knowledge (either an apple or a pomegranate).
Later in the Bible story, after the disobedience and expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden, God gives his chosen people (the Israelites) prohibitions concerning which meats are permissible to eat and which are not.
In the Book of Ezekiel Eden symbolizes Israel’s promised redemption after being in exile.
Eden is also mentioned in the Koran. And a rough parallel to Eden is found in the Sumerian Dilmun, a mythological place where everyone lives forever and never gets sick nor dies.
- The Garden of Eden: Between two trees (onedaringjew.wordpress.com)
- Bible Challenge – “GARDEN OF EDEN” (pjsprayerline.blogspot.com)
- Eden – The First Earth-Home (brakeman1.com)
- How Long Were Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden? (jeffandcindy.wordpress.com)
- It’s official – Adam and Eve, er, weren’t. (wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com)
The definition of evil is informed by one’s core beliefs, and different kinds of arguments try to explain its existence.
Some materialists and scientists scoff at the idea of evil as if it were an antiquated legacy from a superstitious past.
Violent criminals are usually described in the news in psychiatric terms. Murderers are often reported as having a mental illness instead of being possessed by the devil. However, sometimes callous murderers are called “monsters” so the idea of evil can creep in to our essentially scientific worldview.
Meanwhile, savage tyrants and warlords are often viewed through a historical or, perhaps, political lens.
Evil in Christian theology
A basic theological distinction exists between natural evil and moral evil. Natural evil includes “acts of God” such as floods, earthquakes and avalanches. Moral evil is a conscious human choice to turn away from God’s will and participate in some action harmful to self and possibly others.
Duns Scotus classified “intrinsic evil” as acts that are inherently evil and accordingly prohibited. But intrinsically evil acts are not evil because they are prohibited.
In Christian theology evil is often seen as a necessary component of God’s plan of salvation. Here one accepts as an article of faith that God permits evil for some greater good, beyond the comprehension of mere mortals (see Isaiah 55:8-9).
A Christian school of thought, begun by Irenaeus and popularized by John Hick, argues that evil is permitted, but not caused, by God. Why, one might ask, would an all-powerful God permit evil? According to the Irenian school, the answer lies in the idea of ‘soul making.’ A soul freely choosing to abstain from evil is of greater value than one that automatically avoids evil like a programmed robot. The free soul apparently better glorifies God than would a sinless automaton.
Although evil may ravage, test and torment good souls living on earth, the true goal of our finite, earthly life is to be made worthy of eternal heavenly life. According to this perspective the evils of the world act as a crucible. Souls not succumbing to but resisting evil are purified and strengthened toward the good. Evil, then, is necessary. It acts as a kind of hammer that pounds out the soul’s impurities.
God permits some evils lest the good things should be obstructed.
Another Christian argument, influenced by Plato‘s idea of the Forms, is given by St. Augustine. Augustine sees evil as a privatio boni—the absence of good. According to this view, since God is good, evil must be where God is not present. Therefore God doesn’t create evil. It’s a choice. But the theological debates get complicated here, and some ask whether Augustine’s theodicy holds up for both natural and moral evil.
Different branches of Christianity hold different views about what happens to evil souls in the afterlife. Some Churches damn sinners eternally. Martin Luther, for instance, believed that some souls are predestined for hell. Meanwhile, some contemporary Christians pray for the liberation of souls in hell while others do not.¹ And the Catholic Purgatory is neither heaven nor hell, but a difficult preparation for heaven.
Evil in non-Christian religions
Evil in Islam is similar to that of Christianity. But for Muslims it is evil to suggest that Christ is one with God (John 10:30). And the prohibitions in the Koran differ from those of the New Testament. Notably, killing is permitted in the Koran in some circumstances (see http://www.yoel.info/koranwarpassages.htm and http://www.islamreview.com/articles/jihadholywarversesinthekoran.shtml), whereas the very thought of killing is denounced in the New Testament. Many branches of Christianity do, however, entertain the idea of a Just War.
In Hinduism a different view of evil is presented. Evil is permitted to maintain a proper balance of sacred heat or power (tapas) within the universe. Aspects of Hinduism speak to the reality of hell for evildoers. But evil in Hinduism is mostly viewed in terms of personal ignorance and spiritual development, making hellish punishments temporary instead of eternal.
According to this perspective, the evil soul reincarnates on earth until it is cleansed of the ignorance that influenced it to commit bad deeds. This differs dramatically from the Catholic view that souls in hell are eternally damned and, strangely enough, would never want to leave. Unlike the Christian, the Hindu aspires to transcend apparently relative ideas about good and evil through an experiential knowledge of universal truth.
Accordingly, the goal of Hinduism differs from both Christianity and Islam. For the Hindu, heaven is a halfway house on the road to ultimate realization. The reincarnating soul may enjoy periodic visits to different heavens but, though the round of rebirth, it eventually transcends all heavens and ultimately achieves the greatest good of the Brahman. A similar but in some ways different view of evil is presented in Taoism.
An interesting but often overlooked question is whether Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu heavens and hells are identical in character. The celebrated Romanian scholar Mircea Eliade notes that heavens and hells are described differently among world religions. But do they all feel the same? We can’t really know but my guess is NO.
Most cultures around the world at some point in history have seen evil as a cause of mental or physical illness. This view is prevalent in Shamanism. And some religious writers, such as the Catholic, Michael Brown, say they feel the presence of evil almost anywhere.
And on the inferiority of evil as compared to good, W. H. Auden writes in A Certain World:
Good can imagine Evil; but Evil cannot imagine Good.
¹ See this excellent discussion: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=329730
- The freewill defense (St. Augustine of Hippo): Part 1 (thatreligiousstudieswebsite.com)
- One’s Good and the Other is Evil (conservativetickler.wordpress.com)
- Why God Won’t Allow Me to Heaven (ichosethebluepill.wordpress.com)
- A Scene from “Doctor Faustus” (alyssajmammano.wordpress.com)
- Medieval Good (ideasandotherstuff.wordpress.com)
- What is evil? (andrewejenkins.wordpress.com)
- Random Musings: the concept of a ‘just war’ (jmatthanbrown.wordpress.com)
- A reading from the Church Fathers: Love the Sinner Hate the Sin (gingerjar2.wordpress.com)
In the popular sense of the term, the idea of the fallen angel denotes something gone wrong with a person or with a purely spiritual being who freely chooses to reject and, therefore, oppose God’s will.
Myths, stories and artistic representations about fallen angels abound. John Milton (1608 – 1674) in Paradise Lost imagines legions of Satanic angels who rebel against God. Massive wars break out, and St. Michael leads the Lord’s Angels, who must overcome ingenious contraptions built by Satan and his fallen army. While St. Michael is prominent in the battle, the final victory is reserved for Christ. So St. Michael stands aside as Jesus defeats the evil army.
Traditionally, we find the notion of the fallen angel in Jewish and Christian lore, and some argue that a very similar idea is found in Hinduism. For in Hinduism the asuras are described as benevolent spiritual beings in the Vedas that devolve in subsequent Hindu scripture to become demons.
In Islam the personification of evil is Shaytan. In the Koran God commands Iblis to bow down before Adam and serve mankind but through his pride Iblis refuses. God allows Iblis to tempt mankind until Judgement Day, at which time he will be cast into hell. In Islamic thought Iblis is often seen as the master jinn, the head of demons allowed to torment humanity. But there is no concept of the “fallen angel” in the Islamic tradition.
To this coolguymuslim adds:
There is no such thing as a fallen angel in Islam. No doubt, in Islam, Iblis a.k.a. Satan is a jinn and he is most evil. However at the same time, he never is nor was an angel. Angels in Islam do not have free will and they cannot disobey God. In terms of Iblis, he used to be a rightous slave of God so much so that he was elevated to the level of angels before he refused to bow down, however, he was never an angel. Jinn, on the other hand, do possess free will and there are good and evil jinn just as there are good and evil humans.¹
Some believe that the powerful “Sons of Man” mentioned in the Old Testament are Fallen Angels. And some contemporary writers believe that aliens are really fallen angels (while others say they are not).
In the fictional Star Wars films, fallen Jedi - like Darth Vader – could be taken as a rough parallel to the idea of fallen angels, mostly because both good and “dark side” Jedi possess paranormal powers and psychic abilities.
Related Posts » Aurobindo (Sri)
- Radio IV, side B, track 12: “Fallen Angel” by Poison (mixedtapemasterpiece.wordpress.com)
- Fringe Paranormal Research Guide: Part V Angels (fringeparanormal.wordpress.com)
- The Mayan Conspiracy (disclose.tv)
- What are Demons – Evil Spirits – And Ghosts ? (epages.wordpress.com)
- Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 13: Fallen Angel #14 (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com)
- Ballad of Fallen Angels (cjreye.wordpress.com)
- Cindy Trimm and the Fallen Angel Ashtar (settingcaptivesfree.wordpress.com)
- The Fallen Angel Ashtar Is Behind “Slain In the Spirit!” (pamsheppard.wordpress.com)
Hinduism is the main religion of India, having evolved over several thousand years.
It has no creed nor firm institutional structure, although the belief in reincarnation runs through almost every form of Hinduism.
Instead of revering one holy book like the Bible or the Koran, Hinduism relies on a variety of sacred scriptures. The oldest are the Vedas (1500-1200 BCE), with the Rig-Veda being prominent among them.
Later, the dharma sutras and dharma shastras appear (500 BCE – 500 CE). These ancient codes of conduct, numbering over 5,000 separate titles, were composed in Sanskrit. They spell out rules and regulations for a wide variety of situations. And they legitimized the caste system and the ideal Hindu stages of life (asrama). They were legally binding in India until contrary legislation appeared in 1955-56.
The Upanisads (1000-600 BCE) are an introspective set of scriptures dealing with the eternal self and its relation to temporal life.
Also important are the two epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. While the Bhagavad-Gita belongs within the Mahabharata, most scholars believe it is was added later to the epic, crystallizing various strands of existing Hindu belief.
The most important gods of the Trimurti (Skt. = three forms, sometimes loosely translated as “Trinity”) are Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver) and Siva (Destroyer and Cosmic Dancer). But many other deities, called avatars, and their consorts are privately and publicly worshipped (e.g., Krishna-Radha, Hanuman, Ganesha, Kali).
In some strands of Hinduism the Buddha is believed to be a demonic avatar. This is probably because Buddha’s teaching challenged the Hindu priestly and caste traditions.
From the 1800′s, the Indian gurus Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekenanda, Sai Baba, Sri Aurobindo, Paramahansa Yogananda and Sri Rajneesh have been prominent. Meanwhile the Indian poet, dramatist and musician Rabindranath Tagore pioneered an innovative, internationally based ashram-style university at Santiniketan and Mohandas Gandhi, who championed the Bhagavad-Gita, has been internationally known as a key political and spiritual figure.
Related Posts » Ahimsa, Asrama, Atman, Avatar, Brahmanas, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Celibacy, Chakras, Demons, Deva, Dharma, Dyaus, Evil, Faith and Action, Fallen Angels, Gunas, Heaven, Hell, Jainism, Kali, Kama, Karma, Karma Transfer, Kundalini, Levels of Knowledge, Linga, Manu, Matsu, Mela, Nandi, O’Flaherty (Wendy Doniger), Panentheism, Pantheism, Pollution, Puranas, Q, Radha, Radhakrishnan (Sarvepalli), Rakshakas, Reincarnation, Samsara, Sanskrit, Seer, Sikhism, Soul, Tantra, Trinity (Holy Trinity), Yantra, Yoga, Yogini, Yoni
- A Brief Description of Popular Hinduism (epages.wordpress.com)
- The Bhagavad Gita Revisited – Part 1 (3quarksdaily.com)
- What are holy text for Hinduism (wiki.answers.com)
- What are the two important texts in Hinduism (wiki.answers.com)
- What are the practices and texts of Hinduism (wiki.answers.com)
- What is hinduisms holy Bible (wiki.answers.com)
- What are some sacred texts for Hinduism (wiki.answers.com)
- U.S. Hindus Upset over Move to Ban Bhagavad Gita in Russia (ibtimes.com)
- Reading Suggestion: Topic – Hinduism (gorirajkumari.wordpress.com)
- Fertility Symbols in Hinduism (socyberty.com)
Hesiod was an 8th-century BCE Greek poet, thought to be active from 750 and 650 BCE. Scholars still debate whether Hesiod lived before or after Homer.
Hesiod’s Works and Days is the tale of a simple but wise rural man who blends ancient myth with practical advice, such as who and when to marry. He also says that women should plow with oxen, and that men should never urinate while standing and facing the sun.
In addition, Hesiod says Gossip is a goddess, and warns against the ills of greedy profit. And he outlines a prophetic vision about passing out of the Iron Age, not unlike the New Testament Book of Revelation.
Yet here also there shall be some good things mixed with the evils. But Zeus will destroy this generation of mortals also/in the time when children, as they are born, grow grey on the temples, When the father no longer agrees with the children, nor children with their father.¹
The eye of Zeus sees everything. His mind understands all. He is watching us right now, if he wishes to, nor does he fail to see what kind of justice this community keeps inside it.²
The close of Works and Days provides an account of Goddesses joining sexually with mortal men, a theme which Mircea Eliade points out is present in some forms of shamanism.³
Hesiod’s Theogany and Shield of Heracles are closer to the Homeric style and less sociological but nonetheless full of vivid mythological tales, many of which could be adapted for contemporary film and TV fantasy.
¹ Cited in Lattimore, Richmond (trans.). Hesiod. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1959, line 179-182.
² Ibid., line 267-272.
³ Mircea Eliade, Shamanism, trans. Willard R. Trask, Princeton, N.J.: 1964.
- Reading Hesiod (rogueclassicism.com)
- Rereading: Works and Days by Hesiod (guardian.co.uk)
- aye I eye i (allsoulo.wordpress.com)
- Greek Classics Challenge 2012 (booksandboston.wordpress.com)
- The beginning of the beginning (flavorinternationale.wordpress.com)
- Greek Classics Challenge 2012 (jillianreadsbooks2.wordpress.com)
Classical Hebrew is the ancient Semitic language of the Hebrews in which the Torah was written. A modern form is used in synagogues, but Jewish prayer and study usually involves classical Hebrew. Both old and new forms of this ancient language are used by the Samaritans.
Ancient Hebrew is also the liturgical tongue of the Samaritans, while modern Hebrew or Arabic is their vernacular, though today about 700 Samaritans remain.¹
Apparently the correct pronunciation of Hebrew scripture confers spiritual benefit. This is analogous, but not identical, to the Eastern religious belief that the correct pronunciation of the word AUM or AUM-MANI-PADME-HUM fosters enlightenment.
Language is also important to many Muslims who maintain that the Koran must be read in Arabic in order to understand its full meaning.
Within most contemporary Christian Churches, however, it’s not the language of transmission, per se, but the message of salvation that’s crucial. So the Christian Bible is freely translated into many different living languages to get the word out, as it were.
Nevertheless, knowledge of original languages remains important to biblical scholars. Ideally, they use their knowledge of original languages to try to penetrate the cultural aspects of the Bible to prevent biblical fanaticism (where an isolated phrase or two are cherry picked to apparently justify personal opinions).
Sadly, however, some scholars use their knowledge of original languages in a close-minded way, failing to recognize that God also speaks to his creatures through innovation—linguistic and otherwise.
Responsible biblical scholars do keep their language abilities in proper perspective. They use their proficiency in original languages to advance knowledge instead of flaunting it to dazzle and intimidate (and, as we sometimes find, to obscure crummy reasoning).
A modern version of Hebrew is spoken by 7 million people in Israel today.
On the Web
- Learn Biblical Hebrew (socyberty.com)
- Hebrew Alphabet: Introduction (goeretzyisrael.wordpress.com)
- Romans 1:17 – What is “the Righteousness of God”? (readingacts.wordpress.com)
- eTeacher Solutes TuBishvat- the “New Year for Trees” by Planting a Tree for Each Student Learning Modern or Biblical Hebrew (prweb.com)
- BibleWorks 9: Hebrew and the LXX, and Final Observations (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Hebrew – 1 (nomorefear.wordpress.com)
- Biblical Measurements (divinitytreasures.wordpress.com)
- Why? (brentsquest.wordpress.com)
- The ‘ch’ factor: How Hebrew language built a community (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Hebrew and NT Scholars (diglotting.com)
Heaven is a place where nothing… nothing ever happens.
If taken literally, this song lyric from the mid-1970s to early 90s pop group Talking Heads represents a view of heaven that was probably influenced by a particular New York City intellectual/arts scene.
Apart from that kind of Zen outlook, we find as many different ideas about the nature of heaven as there are people who’ve speculated on it.
Heaven is difficult to know about, because it seems that, if it truly does exist, one must pass on to experience its fullness.
The Hebrew Old Testament (OT) emphasizes a select few outstanding individuals who will see God “face to face.” And some passages indicate that God resides in a “high” place (Psalm 19:2-5). But the OT also says that the dead seem to, somewhat like the ancient Greek and Mesopotamian departed, meet their ancestors in an underworld (sheol).
The “heavens” (plural) in the OT is an inverted dome above the disc of the earth, separating the waters above and below (Genesis 1:6-9).
In the Christian New Testament the aim of Jesus’ ministry is to invite all of God’s chosen to join him “at the right hand of the Father” to enjoy a new vision of heaven, a heaven where anyone is welcome.
Several NT passages speak directly to “losing one’s life” in this transient world to gain a lasting, true and happy existence in heaven.
As for the constitution of heaven, Christ speaks in parables and metaphors because it’s too glorious to be described literally. Throughout history orthodox and unorthodox Christians have depicted countless types of heaven, some on the basis of mystical vision, others on the basis of speculation and others, perhaps, on the basis of some combination of mystical experience and cultural filters.
Pseudo-Dionysus, or Dionysus the Areopagite, spoke of three levels of heaven, each inhabited by different kinds of spiritual beings. St. Thomas Aquinas notes that Dionysus’ view of heaven is supported by scripture. And the general Christian understanding is also scriptural. The NT says there are “many mansions” in God’s house (John 14:2).
For some saints and (often) ascetic mystics, heaven may be partially experienced as a blessed union with God, united as ‘husband and wife.’ This may involve beholding the “face” and being “illumined” by the glory of God to become like an angel (Matthew 22:30, Mark: 12:25), “neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28).
For many good and honorable worldly persons, heaven is usually seen as a blissful, carefree environment where one reunites with deceased friends and loved ones.
The Islamic Koran speaks of a land of “flowing, crystal streams” that awaits God’s elect. Some criticize Islam for having a simplistic view of heaven, while others say that the Koranic view is allegorical.
Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism all affirm heavens, although not as permanent abodes. By and large, the heavens of Asian religion are taken as stepping stones for the reincarnating soul whose ultimate aim is to achieve the unity of atman-brahman (Hinduism), nirvana (Buddhism) and jin (liberation in Jainism).
Many schools of Buddhism don’t posit any soul whatsoever, only the illusion of a soul.This matters if one it to see heaven as a union of the personal, created self, with the creator. In Buddhism the self just disappears once one realizes it never was. What happens after – experientially speaking – depends on which Buddhist school one believes in.
Contemporary reports about the existence and character of heaven come from those who’ve undergone Near Death Experiences (NDE).
The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung had a NDE but he didn’t experience heaven in the traditional Christian sense (Jung’s father was a Lutheran pastor). In his Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1963), Jung describes dying as something like “stepping out of a tight-fitting shoe.” He says that after seeing the Earth from space and feeling a deep serenity, Jung was resuscitated and unhappily returned to his body.
Some believe that aliens (ETs) are indistinguishable from angels. But most religious and spiritually-minded people do not uncritically believe that ET’s derive from heaven. The cosmic heavens of astronomical observations, they say, are of a far lower order than the heaven experienced by bona fide saints. Likewise, angels are often said to reside in an entirely different order of reality than the observable universe.
Heaven is also said to lie beyond and above the so-called ‘astral’ realms where New Age enthusiasts tell us that energy beings apparently exist. Some pro-ET figures like Rael believe that angels and aliens are highly similar, if not identical.
The celebrated mythographer, Joseph Campbell, argues in The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1968) that “heaven doesn’t exist” because it would take too long for the Virgin Mary, travelling at the speed of light, to get there. Here Campbell, despite his impressive erudition, entirely misses the point that heaven is a different reality, beyond and above the observable universe and its apparent laws of time and motion.
- Heart Sutra (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Jin (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- I Ching (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Dad, the weed, and the NDE (thebelletolls.wordpress.com)
- No Minorities In Heaven? (truelogic.wordpress.com)
- “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (worryisuseless.wordpress.com)
- How Can I Go to Heaven (wiki.answers.com)
- Secrets to Life, the Shroud of Turin, and Heaven’s Mysteries Revealed (prweb.com)
- Why “Through Him With Him In Him”? (throughhimwithhiminhim.wordpress.com)
- What do you think of religion? (cozyblanketsnowflakerepetitioncompulsion.wordpress.com)