There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of 'Heaven' ridiculous by saying they do not want 'to spend eternity playing harps'. The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them. All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible. Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendour and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of Heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it. People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs.
I'm thankful that I've never been part of a church which has had serious issues with breaking into different factions--although, perhaps this has been due more to the homogeneity of the churches I've attended than to any amazing level of love and humility. Still, I know I often need to be reminded of the need to express love to my fellow believers by giving in to them in areas where we have differences (even if they attend a different church, and the only way I can practice this is by not looking down on them for being different).
"[I]f your patient can't be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. I don't mean on really doctrinal issues; about those, the more lukewarm he is the better. And it isn't the doctrines on which we chiefly depend for producing malice. The real fun is working up hatred between those who say 'mass' and those who say 'holy communion' when neither party could possibly state the difference between, say, Hooker's doctrine and Thomas Aquinas', in any form which would hold water for five minutes. And all the purely indifferent things--candles and clothes and what not--are an admirable ground for our activities. We have quite removed from men's minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials--namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples. You would think they could not fail to see the application. You would expect to find the 'low' churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his 'high' brother should be moved to irreverence, and the 'high' one refraining from these exercises lest he should betray his 'low' brother into idolatry. And so it would have been but for our ceaseless labour. Without that the variety of usage within the Church of England might have become a positive hotbed of charity and humility.
I was on my way home from the church Christmas concert rehearsal tonight, and had to go through 14th St-Union Square. There, in the subway station, was a group that consisted of a guy playing a beat-up piano, a guy playing a drum set, and a woman tap dancing. The best part was the two elves (one of whom appeared to be holding a mailbox) standing by watching.
Of course, I'm not sure if that qualifies as "crazy." But I have to start somewhere....
Not to Mention Guns and Religion
"In Tough Times, Americans Cling to Christmas Trees"--headline, Reuters, Dce. 18
Maybe the Embargo Is Working
"In 'Eat Local' Movement, Cuba Is Years Ahead"--headline, Reuters, Dec. 17
Can We Have the Sunroof and Heated Seats Instead?
"Car Bankruptcy Cited as Option by White House"--headline, New York Times, Dec. 19
Then It Ate His Homework
"Todd Stroger's Budget Assailed by Watchdog"--headline, Chicago Tribune, Dec. 19
They Need to Sell More Beer and Hot Dogs
"In Some N.B.A. Arenas, the Crowds Are Thin"--headline, New York Times, Dec. 19
Good News for Orlando Prey
"Massive Layoffs at Orlando Predators"--headline, Central Florida News 13 Web site (Orlando), Dec. 17