I have heard many descriptions of “heaven”. I think anyone who is a “follower” believes in “heaven” (whatever that word means to them). Hell I am not so sure of. Some talk of “another place” called Hell. But I have only heard the stereotypical “hot house for ever” kind of furnace. One is a place of torment, one is a place of joy. Because there has to be a reward for being good (and a punishment for being bad) – otherwise what is the point?
And then – a big thing for most followers – where do the “false teachers” end up? Those ones who look good, sound good, talk good but aren’t good? The tv programme “Holiday from Hell” springs to mind. That expected “heaven” which (for so many reasons we can relate to) turns out to be an unexpected (an unfair) “hell”. False teachers have to get their just desserts – that is only fair to the rest of us!
Reality tv makes for good tv but is rarely “reality”. Reality is too boring for tv. We like to watch something with a story. So reality tv has to have a storyline editor. And if they are good at their job, then “reality” becomes something we want to watch: the goodies and baddies .. forces of darkness and light … winners and the losers … and “the happy ending” – oh, and then the credits. All packaged and perfectly timed to “fit” the schedules.
I think we do that with the bible a lot:
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
I can see this – a wedding! Always a “good feast” – not just the food, the tables, the table decorations, the pre-dinner nibbles and drinks, the flowers, the colour coordinated fabrics, the different textures, the music, the seating plan, the caterers, the speeches, the dirty little secrets … Oh there is so much to plan!
He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them.
Forces of darkness! Wonderful! Now how will the story play out … we have slaves (great!), we have confirmed attendees being arses (baddies!), we have all the other properties (note to self – we need a second film crew and director), slaves being seized and beaten up and killed (how will this work … we are going to lose the family audience if we are not careful).
The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
People – people -people!! I have a MAJOR problem with this bit. We will lose them if we keep this bit … Work with me here … Maybe we have just the king – do kings cry? – maybe just the king looking sad … What do you think?
Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Now this stays. Forces of light – the goodies ARE the disenfranchised! This I like! This will grab the heart-strings if we light it properly … work it well … get the right vibe (and be very careful who we use – there are some ugly brutes out there – only “the photogenic disenfranchised” allowed in my masterpiece, baby!) Note to self: I need a team on this piece – this I have to make work!
But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless.
Whoa! Wait a minute … What is this all about? Costume malfunction – typo … ? What‘s going on here – I thought we had done with the baddies?
Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Okay people, we will need to talk about this piece. Not sure it works for me. Takes the focus off the happy couple – we have loads of material with all these “oddballs” (who are so going to freak when they see all that cutlery they don’t know what to do with), all those yokel dances they will do when “the turn” does their number … We have so much more material than we need for a happy ending … This “self-righteous twaddle” sounds too much like preaching to me.
For many are called, but few are chosen.’ Matthew 22:1-14
Maybe that works as the credits roll – watcha think? Kind of morality tale formula maybe? Leave them with a tear in their eye as the credit roll … Yep, this line has legs – just need to rework it so it works properly.
Okay people. That’s it for now. I have a long lunch with some major player “their people” – lips are sealed stuff right now. See you all back here tomorrow bright and early! We have a blockbuster to create from this amateur script …
Ever heard a similar conversation inside your own head?
I have. I have all of Hollywood and Bollywood and every other “wood” available in my head: scriptwriters, storyline editors, casting editors, special effects teams, wonderful directors, the most enigmatic cast, the best lighting and sound – and a very subjective editing team! The cutting room floor is littered with so much that doesn’t fit.
That’s the problem with faith and belief. It can be – and is – anything I want “it” to be.
And when enough of us agree on our script and the final cut – and when we run the film for others – that is when “faith and belief” becomes “fact and evidence”. And “that” is when wars break out … when “them and us” are created … when God becomes “an extra” (usually without a speaking part) … that is when we create our Perfect God (with a great storyline and wonderful credits) all packaged to neatly fit into our busy lives.
And that – I think – is when we also demand allegiance from those who profess to believe in “God” – when we decide what the right “wedding clothes” are – when we decide who is wearing the right outfit – when we decide who must be excluded (because they do not fit our storyline).
I think my God – OUR God – has left me enough in the bible to invite me to NOT recreate who and what He is.
I think my God fits perfectly without my editing and storyline. And I think I need reminding of that time after time (after time after time …)
The Life of Brian is JUST a film! Because we would never do that to Jesus!
Would you … ?
(and this whole post came from just that “man … who was not wearing a wedding robe” because it has never quite fitted my own preferred storyline)