Editorial: Eternity: God's Cruel Joke?

Easter poses the question of life ever after

Back when I was in high school, there was this terrible Easter joke making the rounds. It went something like, "What did Jesus say as he was hanging from the cross?" The answer is, "Gee, this is a hell of a way to spend Easter."

The joke was pretty bad and even I, not the most religious person in the world, felt guilty about laughing at it.

Jesus died for our sins. I know that much. The way it was taught to me is that he died on a cross. He was soon born again and promised us that when we die and if we've been faithful to a religious faith — and I'm not at all sure which one — we'll go to heaven and live for eternity just like him. No beginning, no end, forever and ever.

I think God told him to say this.

I think God is getting even with us for killing his only son and perhaps has a smirk on his face while all the churches fill up to capacity on Easter Sunday.

Think about it. Eternity. Forever. We'll get to see loved ones and friends who have already passed over. It's a reunion, and we'll have a lot of catching up to do and plenty of time to get it done. But when it gets done, then what?

How long will it take me to tell my Aunt Hulda about developing diabetes in mid-life and what a pain in the ass it was to give myself insulin shots every day? Forty-five minutes, tops. Then what will we talk about? Will there be cable in heaven so I can get away from her for a while? Probably not. I think that, after the newness wears off of being in heaven, all my friends and relatives there, just like on earth, will start to get on my nerves.

I loved my grandfather more than any man in this world, but he snored and I don't mean just a little bit. Grandpa could wake up small villages when he slept. The thought of having to hear that for an eternity keeps me up at night. Will there be earplugs in heaven?

My twin brother will be there, and I've missed him more than anybody. It will probably take us a couple hundred years to reminisce and catch up with each other, but then what? Will we resort to fighting? Will he try to shove gravel rocks up my nose like when we were little kids?

One time for Sunday dinner, my grandmother put pork and beans on the table. I had never had them before and I told her I liked them. For the next 15 years and until her death, whenever we were over for dinner, she had pork and beans. Eventually I grew sick of them, but I said nothing because I didn't want to hurt her feelings. She died thinking I loved this food.

My grandmother will be in heaven, and so will the pork and beans. I just know it. Will I have gas for an eternity?

I have it on good authority that when we go to heaven we'll be naked. That's the good news. The bad news is that supposedly we won't be allowed to think about or have sex. It will not exist, and it's part of the joke God will be playing on us.

After work on Fridays, sometimes the news editor of CityBeat and I have a "very important business meeting" and head over to Washington Platform downtown. Sometimes Sheila takes our drink orders and — with her reddish-blonde hair, blue eyes, nice body and ample breasts — there's no doubt in my mind she'll make it to heaven. She's already a goddess.

When I see her smiling at me — all naked and all in heaven — I can't have impure thoughts? I can't have sex with her? I just get to look at her for an eternity and that's it? This sounds like pure hell to me.

But come to think of it, maybe I won't even want to see her with no clothes on. Maybe when she enters heaven she'll be old. When we go to heaven, will we appear to look like when we died? Will heaven be mostly full of old people? If Sheila has blue hair, sagging breasts and a bad hip, then I don't want to have sex with her. I'll just say my brother is waiting for me, wants to shove more rocks up my nose.

Chances are I won't make it to heaven anyway. God is probably frowning down on me right now for writing this and exposing his cruel joke. He'll put me in hell with all the politicians, lawyers, insurance agents and Cincinnati Enquirer reporters. Instead of living for an eternity, I'll burn in hell forever.

I'll have to make the best of it. I'll take plenty of cigarettes with me. At least it'll be easy to get a light. ©

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