Perhaps my habit of referring to myself as Mr. Hitchens is causing some consternation in the ranks, if there are any ranks out there sufficiently curious to surf their skepticism long enough to see what my scribe can translate of these thoughts. It comes of looking back at my former self and seeing him so animated and propelled by his drives and passions, so filled with the need to articulate reason in a world gone bonkers with superstition, greed and malevolence. I never thought I could actually level the stupidities with cool intelligence craftily applied, but I could not stand to see the side of free thinking tolerance let down for lack of trying. Hate filled fanatics and detestable loonies may run half the world to suit their rabid fantasies and ignominious greed but giving them free rein out of fear, ennui or sloth was an abdication of responsibility I could no longer abide. I trust some young turks will take up the challenge in my absence.
And so I can see, in a retrospect, sometimes delighted and others diffident, that Mr Hitchens chatting and charming his way about the globe, a barb-baiting iconoclast basking in his small victories and waves of applause. I see him for who he was, unclouded now by those shiny ambitions of audience domination, the thinking man’s moral crusader. But I jest at my own expense. Such is the distance afforded by residence in these realms.
God is still not great, and fortunately there’s no-one here to argue the point. Although my scribe informs me there are plenty of heavens of every stripe where that deity fantasy is relentlessly pursued. Every major religion has heavens, the minor ones too. Every renegade offshoot and crackpot cult has its corner, so I am told. Just like earth really. But despite the stunning beauty and seemingly immaculate construction of this world/sphere/realm, and I’ve had a good look for cracks and joins, no god or gods has stepped forward to claim responsibility or demand supplication. No prophets or priests either. So let the news be promulgated far and wide: there is at least one sphere where god and his whipping boys are absent. I advise you all to flock here the minute you find yourself departed.
My scribe laughs as I say this. He has already mentioned that some of the religious heavens are actually quite bearable. Anglican heaven has many aspects to recommend it. There are a couple of Buddhist heavens he finds quite congenial in small doses. The Unitarian sphere, apparently, is quite inoffensive. He also tells me the heavens of the various fundamentalists who assume sole reign are vastly amusing when you stumble in and disturb their iron clad assumptions. He tells me we’ll save that for later.
When I query him, with all his experience, he will only admit to a deep respect for the great creative principle of the universe, which, he reports, just goes on creating regardless of who’s paying attention or trying to cage it in suffocating definitions. Sounds a lot like good old evolution to me. My scribe gives his assent to this, but adds that the period spent here between incarnations contributes to that evolution. The evolution of form and spirit, he intones. And then he restrains himself. I must form my own understandings without his directions. I am disarmed by his humility. He grins.
The heavens of the astronomers are not immediately visible from here. One must switch dimensions or some such thing. The Milky Way can be viewed as through rent in the fabric of this sphere. I really wanted to say a rent in the fabric of space-time, but apparently I cannot as this sphere is not space-time, not as we have known it. It is something else, an ineffable eternity of loveliness perhaps. That will have to do for now. I’m told there are plenty of bemused scientists around who are working up some descriptions.
I can tell you this: traveling, by flight or by thought, I’ve been introduced to both, takes you to other heavenly worlds of great and varied beauty, not the infinitude of planets and stars floating about as seen from the space station. I can tell you much else besides, but my scribe insists it will not be believed by those whom I would wish it believed, but that it will be absorbed by the new-age audience that has no issue with channeling. Yes, he smirks, those woosies with crystals and fragrances who’ve never heard of Nietzche and can’t quote Aristotle but hold Deepak Chopra and Shirley MacLaine in high regard.
Certainly what I’ve seen and heard so far has rather reorganized my priorities. I’ve helped welcome the newly dead to these realms and while it’s not that different from standing at Arrivals for a friend deploringly delayed but pleasantly surprised that you waited and are still enthused, with party goers ready to shock them at the door, it is sobering to see one’s own disbelief crammed into another’s face. You see, the unwavering believers don’t seem to come here, this paradise of the mind and creative spirit. Lots of agnostics and don’t-really-cares, brainiacs of all stripes and, I notice, our fair share of the simple and unaffected, charmed to be still breathing and often ready for a run or a hike or a swim. Nature lovers by the bus load, and I can see why. Mountains, meadows, forests and lakes, we have it all. Their pagan god would be nature but you never hear them say it. Plenty of unabashed tree hugging of course, that’s to be expected, here in this part- Vermont, part-Pennsylvania paradise.
Doubtless it will be amusing and instructive for Mr. Hitchens to visit the religious heavens, where some will scoff and some will welcome, and many, no doubt, will not take notice, but as I am enjoying my new life to the fill, with occasional ghostly glides through the homes of family and friends, where I love and admire and feel their enduring grief with a heart that holds them all still dear, I shall leave that questionable pleasure until later.