There's No Voting in Heaven

After having spent my entire life in a representational democracy, I don't think I want to live in a kingdom of heaven.

Of course, I suppose this would not be like any ordinary kingdom, certainly nothing out of a Rennaissance festival. I also know that for most people, the "kingdom of heaven" seems more metaphorical than literal, or more symbolic of our aspirations than a real depiction of anything. But even after thousands of years, our Western perceptions of Heaven are firmly rooted in the idea of kingship. God is called the King of Kings, as is Jesus, who is also heralded as a scion of David (read royal blood.) We invoke the kingship of God as the highest way of praise.

But nobody gets to vote in Heaven. There is no parliament, no deliberative body, nothing. You won't be in a republic, you'll live in an autocracy. If I am judged worthy enough to enter, does this mean that my memories of the political system will be erased and I'll accept this kingship and its attendant obligations of daily, hourly, infinite worship of the invisible God?

This brings me to another point. What exactly do we forget when we go to Heaven? Are all unpleasant memories removed so that we conceive of nothing else than pure bliss? Do we lose our capacity for rational thought (assuming our minds somehow exist in toto after death) and find ourselves merely contented with what is before us, like family, friends, pets, not even remembering those bad experiences that might have shape our thinking and personality. In short, am I still me if I get to Heaven?

What about the people who wronged me in this world? I have a longing to have certain people back into my life despite profound hurt and disappointment, but should they dislike me, do we meet in Heaven? After all, my motivation for reconciliation, denied in this world, is based out of love that I carried for the duration of my earthly stay, but if the feeling is not mutual, what happens in the afterlife? Moreover, what of truly repentant murderers, rapists or thieves: will they meet their victims in Heaven and would you recognize them?

I've heard it postulated that the universe and everything in it might be a hologram, but it seems more fitting that Heaven should be a hologram, constantly and finely tuned to adjust these unpleasant things so that we either forget them completely, or lose all memory of them. Let me imagine my afterlife with my preferred visuals: sepia-toned sky (thanks, Jerry Bruckheimer) always warm, never hot, in a beautiful valley with olive trees and a gentle stream. The fields go on forever, but the warmth, the sense of peace, and the visit with old family and friends, who wouldn't want to be there? But as a man, I have carried feelings for my one true love, the one who got away throughout my entire life. Will I see her? How can you reconcile what's in a man's heart with the conflicts that it might have brought here at home? Our lives have crossed with so many others that it almost seems impossible to assimilate these experiences with an afterlife unless some divine editor is capable of deftly removing the conflicts to leave us in a state of ignorant bliss.

If this is the case, maybe Heaven is just the result of a divine lobotomy. We're no longer us, we're no longer activists or seeking to perfect our political system. We're mindlessly stuck in a kingdom that we would have rejected on Earth with no real memories at all. Would you want this?