Many people cling to religion for fear of Hell — but how many walk away after thinking about Heaven? Comedian’s comedian Bill Burr did. In his stand-up special “I’m sorry You Feel That Way,” Burr talks about how Heaven itself drove him from his born religion. It’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room of the righteous, that thing no one likes to talk about between sermon’s on God’s love and forgiveness. And we’ll get on that gorilla’s back in a moment — but first, a bit of damnation from Pat Robertson.
On one of his 212 shows, the Fossil That Would Be King (1988) tells a viewer that her daughter is, in no uncertain terms, destined to burn in Hell. The viewer writes in, presumably via telegraph:
“My daughter is a Christian and a good person. She lives with her boyfriend and plans on marriage, but he has to get a divorce first. Will they go to hell for this sin?”
Pat minces no words when pronouncing the harlot’s sentence, comparing her to a murderer and serial killer:
“The answer is yes!” Robertson said. “She’s a good person, but she’s living in adultery. That’s Hollywood. ‘Oh, he’s a good person, but he just killed five people, and he threw his mother down the steps. But he’s a good person…Nonsense! It is adultery! She’s living with a married man who is still married, and she’s a good person? Baloney”
And you can believe Pat’s got God’s ear. After all, it was this same God who told him the world would end in 1982 (it didn’t), Bush would win by a landslide in 2004 (he didn’t), a tsunami would hit America in 2006 (it didn’t), Syria and Iran would launch nuclear weapons in 2008 (they didn’t), that oil would be $300 a barrel and gold $1,900 an ounce in 2009 (it wasn’t) and that Mitt Romney would win by a landslide in 2012, and serve two terms. Which happened. Maybe.
Regardless, the Man With God’s Ear does bring up an interesting point about Heaven. Which isn’t, despite Dante and Renaissance painters’ depictions, a place you go to eat ice cream with Einstein and Grandma. That’s nowhere in the Bible — which says you’ll turn into a brainless, thoughtless ball of light, you won’t know who you or anyone else is, and you’ll sit around forever doing nothing but singing songs to God and telling him how great he is.
That sounds like…well, like Hell.
So, maybe Bill Burr’s ponderings on the matter are a bit academic. Biblically, we won’t even notice our friends and family are burning in Hell, because we’ll be too busy blowing the divine ego. Forever. But, if you do want to believe in the non-biblical version of Heaven presented by people who have apparently never seen a Bible, it’s still food for thought.