The History Of Heaven, Ctd


Paul Johnson reviews John Casey's book

Many writers on heaven, from Philo of Alexandria onwards, are inclined to stress the intellectual delights of heaven. Philo seems to think that all the saved will be able to indulge in philosophy seminars, making heaven a kind of Oxford graduate college, like All Souls. My own favourite is the image of some medieval rabbis, who saw heaven as a vast, quiet, peaceful library, where books jumped down from the shelves when you nodded to them, and soft-footed librarians dispersed cooling mint drinks. There is a comparable vision of a scholarly heaven in the writings of Isaac Watts, though his paradise is more like the Royal Society, with the stress on scientific discoveries. Casey, who enjoys himself by covering a vast amount of spiritually imaginative territory, also goes into spiritualist concepts, and even the taxidermist dreams of Hubert Eaton, who, in 1917, created Forest Lawn Memorial Park in California.

What Casey thinks himself he does not tell us. But he believes that such visions give us 'a sense of how deeply they mirror our most sincere self-consciousness ... our image of heaven and hell is finally an image of how we judge ourselves'

Earlier coverage of Lisa Miller's book on the same subject here.