Saturday, 29 January 2011

Heaven as a foreign country

I was having a discussion yesterday along the lines of:
"Have you noticed how when you visit a foreign country, all the women look beautiful? When we're at home, we discriminate more; we seem to pick up on so many signals which help to make distinctions which aren't available to us when people are speaking a different language..." (this was obviously a male-centric discussion, but I would guess there's some universal experience here...). The discussion moved on to talk about the 'family resemblance' and the way we recognise people we can 'communicate with' and how the perception of beauty is associated with this. I guess if you attenuate the channels for communication, the difference in probabilities of successful communication with anyone becomes less marked, which may make all communications with foreign people 'beautiful'. This led onto a discussion about whether nationalism is a construct or is somehow 'in the person'.

To be surrounded by beautiful people, and exotic cultures and languages can feel like a blissful state. It is what we feel when we are on holiday. Is this what heaven might be like?

I've been thinking about whether 'heaven' is a foreign country in this way (imagine all those beautiful women!). Yet there is a difference between being going to a foreign country and 'going home'. Going home is going back to where the distinctions we make about the members of 'our family' which always existed within us, are realised in the environment around us.

I suppose the question I'm asking is "is death a 'great adventure', or a profound home-coming?" My intuition tells me it might be the latter...

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