There Are no Flowers in Heaven
Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull,
so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a
whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the
- George Bernard Shaw
When I think of the number of disagreeable people that I know who have
gone to a better world, I am sure hell wont be so bad at all.
- Mark Twain
I remember singing a song in church about rain and flowers. It was
a song about why God allowed his children to endure hardship. The reason?
To build character. Just as flowers could not grow without rain, people
could not grow without experiencing some adversity in their lives. Yet
it's funny how the very people who wrote this song could also believe
that they would be happy in heaven. For in heaven, everything will be
perfect. There will be no hardship. There will be no rain. And because
of that, there can be no flowers.
Take kindness, for example. Why are we so grateful for the kind act
of another? Because it is so often rare, but even more because it is voluntary.
We are grateful that they decided to act kindly, for we know that they
could just as well have opted not to, and we appreciate the virtue that
is displayed in their having chosen to do so. But how can we appreciate
an act of kindness in heaven? More specifically, how can we ever appreciate
kindness when everyone is kind because they can't help it? And where is
the virtue in a good deed when it is impossible to act any other way?
You can say the same thing about courage, hope, compassion and any
other quality we possess. Heaven will strip these from us and make our
every act utterly worthless. And not only will these acts be involuntary, there will no longer be possible. How can we be courageous when there is no
danger? Why should we hope when everything is assured? How can we display
compassion if no one can suffer? And why should we even try? It's like
playing a game where everybody wins, every time. The game becomes absolutely
meaningless. And to make things worse, there's the matter of eternity.
Not only will we have no reason to act virtuously in heaven, we will have
forever to do it. Imagine a football game with an infinite number of downs.
If it doesn't matter how far you get on each play, then how good can the
play be? How motivated will the players be to try?
Along with the death of virtue will be the death of art. Art is about
contrasts. A painting must have its lights and darks. A song must have
its highs and lows, its major as well as its minor chords. And artists
must draw from the full experience of life, with all its triumphs and
sorrows. The most poignant works of art are often those that find beauty
in the midst of sorrow.
Yet in heaven, where everything is always perfect, beauty becomes
meaningless. There are no emotions other than happy ones. There is no
dark, so we stop noticing the light. Nothing can move us. Nothing is poignant.
The only thing to sing or write about is how happy we are. It's like an
overexposed photograph where everything gets washed out. Probably after
a few years of this, and definitely after a few million, all we will be
able to do is lift our voices and utter a collective "blah."
Why will there be no flowers in heaven? Because no rain ever falls.
So though you may see flowers strewn from sea to shining sea, upon closer
inspection you'll find that they're all plastic.