Proceedings were held in the really Supreme Court this day. The barrister for the agnostics petitioning to get into Heaven, notwithstanding their mistaken belief while alive on earth, that personal immortality was a myth, rose and addressed the judge, Jesus:
Thank you m’Lord. Or should I say “my Lord?” May it please the court.
Let me begin by saying thank you for allowing me to address you in my native language, English. Should you grant the petition to be admitted to Heaven, I and my clients will set about learning Aramaic as fast as we can.
My clients are happy to be here — and no one, besides the atheists — are more surprised to discover there is a here here. My clients were reasonably certain that death meant “lights out.” And, speaking personally, I am delighted to discover that Heaven does not consist of a bunch of angels sitting around on cumulus clouds playing harps. I hate harp music.
St. Thomas as painted by Caravaggio
My clients freely confess to being wrong about heaven. But I think you should cut them some slack. They remained open to this possibility, no matter how improbable it seemed then and seems now. The atheists took it as a matter of faith heaven did not exist. My clients had a partially open mind to the remote possibility of personal immortality and knew that one could never be absolutely certain, given the limited number of senses we were provided with. So my clients doubted.
In men and women who lack imagination, the seeds of wisdom are sown in fields of doubt.
Which is why we called, as our only witness, St. Thomas.
Our opposition in this case, St. Peter, called many witnesses, most of whom were evangelicals in life on earth and, if I may say so, have remained as arrogant and obnoxious up here as they were down there. It is a wonder you put up with them. I would be less than candid were I not to admit that my clients and I find it galling that they got in automatically yet we’re having to petition for admission. But we take you at your word that your Father’s House has many mansions and we hope our paths and theirs never cross.
And shouldn’t you have said, “In my Father’s mansion are many rooms?” Perhaps if you had spoken more clearly — or hired better translators — petitioners would not have doubted you.
Actually, when you think about it, you and your Father — I mean “our Father” — bear some responsibility for the error of the ways of the agnostics. He gave humans brains with which to think and then dumped us off in a world that sure looks like a world that is only “material”.
Adam and Eve as painted by Rubens
I want to take a moment to discuss the argument that St. Peter will no doubt make in his closing argument trying to keep us out of Heaven. He will try to blame it all on Eve. Well, m’Lord, that is just nonsense. If it was so important for us not to have wisdom, God could have made us without curiosity or, at the very least, could have hurled a thunderbolt sizzling Eve before she ate of the apple from the Tree of Wisdom or gave it to Adam. That would have taught Adam a lesson he would never have forgotten.
I don’t blame St. Peter for trying so hard to keep us out. He does so out of an undying — strange word that, whoever would have thought? — loyalty to you. He is to be commended for that loyalty even if it sometimes leads him into error, as it has here.
But back to my point about it being a “material” earth. If we were supposed to see that as a charade, why then did God create a world the existence of which could be entirely explained without reference to the supernatural? That was what the smartest people among us, the scientists, ascertained. Were we supposed to ignore them?
No. It’s not fair. When you judge our petition, you should do so with mercy and compassion. We didn’t make the world and we didn’t delight in playing mind-games with Creation. Somebody up here did that.
I remind you, with all due respect, of the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:12–14:
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”
Which shows that God is not into capitalism. A capitalist would have written off that one sheep as a loss. What kind of sense is it to go wandering off looking for a tiny part of your investment while leaving 99% of it unprotected?
But it is not for us to question you. My clients sheeplessly wandered off but they hope you are as happy to see them as they are to see you.
I know that you are not willing for them to be lost just because of a misunderstanding about the afterlife. They all tried to live good lives; they followed the 10 Commandments — mostly — and thought your Beatitudes constituted a good moral compass for even a finite human life.
Besides, all you’ll need to keep them in the flock this time is a couple of Border Collies. You do have dogs here, don’t you?
I leave you, my Lord, asking that my clients be admitted. I remind you of your own words, “”If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. . . .the Kingdom of God is inside of you, and it is outside of you. . . .Whoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am; I myself shall become that person.”