Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2013.02.17 Why Heaven Now? A Modest Proposal

Reading Eben Alexander’s book Proof of Heaven, and finding it as engaging as his talk, but with much more detail, both personal and scientific, including some fascinating backstory, I sort of wish I’d nearly died and had such a glorious taste of the spiritual realm.

I wondered, why now? Why has this book come out just now?  I predict it will be a bestseller, and Eben Alexander will promote it with all he’s got, because he is earnest about the message of ultimate eternal love he calls God. 

When I was very young I had a similar experience, though not as grand. I called it God because I’d seen God in a book and figured God was the right name for feeling so utterly affirmed and accepted without question.  I have spent most of my life trying to preserve, protect, even simply remember and retrieve, this experience of pure being-loved. I have wanted to shield it from my own doubts. I also it hasn't magically made me a perfect person!

My sister remembers me under the table a lot, but I have no proof of my own small but ultimate experience. All I can do is trust it, and write about it, and try not to get preachy-insistent about it.

To me, the most resonant thing Alexander wrote about God was: “One of the biggest mistakes people make when they think about God is to imagine god as impersonal. Yes, God is behind numbers, the perfection of the universe that science measures and struggles to understand. But—again, paradoxically—Om (means One and is another name he uses for Divinity) is “human” as well—even more  human than you and I are. Om understands and sympathizes with our human situation more profoundly than we can imagine because Om knows what we have forgotten, and understands the terrible burden it is to live with amnesia of the Divine for even a moment.”

That’s like what I felt as a child and I can’t go abstract with it, no matter how much I think I should, and no matter how much I know God remains Mystery to be grasped occasionally by sheer grace. Believe me, however, I’m in no hurry to die.

Alexander  doesn’t refer to God as He. Okay with me. Might the Holy Eucharist be, for Christians,  a ritual of anamnesis, a state of no amnesia about Divinity?  Could the “human” God have many identities, like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, and how about Betty Friedan, or Anita Hill, or Gloria Steinem, Julian of Norwich, Pope John XXIII, or you, or me—and so many more. 

So, why now?  I think it is because most of the world has made science an idol. There is lots of evidence, biblical and beyond, that God finds a way to insert a “punctuation mark” into this universe to remind people that science, as necessary and wondrous as it is, is not God.