23 October 2016

The Gated Retirement Community of Carefree Terrestrial Rest

My maternal grandmother (Gran) was a good Christian woman. She believed that her afterlife would be filled with harp-playing and quietly praising Jesus while floating in a cloudy heaven, protected from the riff-raff by an ever-vigilant Saint Peter who ran a portal called the "Pearly Gates". It was her Christian duty to denounce The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) (to which her daughter and grandchildren had converted) and to fib to her friends and family that my mother and her children (including me) actually went to another congregation of Gran's chosen non-LDS denomination because of Sunday timing preferences.

Again, Gran was a good woman and accustomed to hard work, likely a product of her upbringing in the highly religious and relatively hard-pan frontier of west Texas and eastern New Mexico. She never thought much of her progeny's religious choices, but she was kindly and loving regardless. I knew her primarily in her retirement, where she was an industrious cook, always had a nice car, a nice home, a big TV, and had resources enough to eat in restaurants regularly. My early view of what constituted a proper conclusion, and hoped-for afterlife, was something along the lines of what my grandmother enjoyed in her latter years.

In this promised continuation (previous post here) of philosophical visits to different levels of "glory" or "kingdoms" that one might aspire to for an afterlife, which I interpret from the Mormon Plan of Salvation, I now consider the middle or "terrestrial" reward. (Please understand that what follows is my personal concept of the afterlife and doesn't necessarily reflect the doctrines of the LDS Church.)

If you think of what my grandmother believed about heaven and her life as I perceived it as described above, I think that is an apt concept of what the middle reward will be like. I will go on a limb here and estimate that most Christians aspire to this middle glory as their version of "Heaven". This concept goes approximately as follows:

Picture in your mind a very upscale retirement community. People play golf, they grill and pursue pleasant hobbies, the place is maintained perfectly, and you don't have to lift a finger to make it happen. You worked all through a good life and this is your reward - not having to work anymore! Alternately, you can think of an never-ending tour on a cruise ship - everything is already paid for and you can just relax and recreate forever.  To people who toiled away for most of their lives, a pleasant retirement in their autumn years and an eternity at rest sounds just divine, doesn't it? Where the catchprase for the telestial (lower) reward was "no consequences", a simple description for the terrestrial (middle) reward might be "no responsibilities".

There was an entertaining display of genteel and light-hearted Christianity in the original VeggieTales video series. The following snippet showcases my perception that the terrestrial glory would be very familiar to residents of gated retirement communities.

I don't want to make anyone who achieves a terrestrial glory feel bad about it - It is a very good reward that follows a life of basically doing good. Of course, I have alluded to the fact that there are three basic glories to which one can aspire alongside God's marvelous grace. The highest "kingdom", known as the celestial, has a description and posting of its own that is soon to come.