A response to an essay on heaven

One of my friends shared with me an essay, part of a chain mail, written by a 17-year-old boy of his vision of heaven that I want to share with you. The young man’s family believe he is in heaven[he died from electrocution after hitting a utility pole].You can weigh in too. I don’t know how one can interpret this essay to the point that it is proof heaven exists and that this young man is in the heaven he described!

For those who live on faith, I know they see a lot in this email and would want to believe strongly that heaven exists and they will be going there some time in the near future. I have no such hope for the existence of heaven and if one were to exist, I don’t see how a future life would be better than the one we have here and now. I compare to saying I will have a bad life in my youth since old age awaits me, what nonsense this is!

That said here is the essay


In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I Have Liked.”I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

How could this be a surprise, he must have known the names of all the girls he has liked. He is only 17 and who forgets names of girls he has liked? Besides, what makes this room heaven and since this is his creative imagination, how somebody takes it to accurately represent another reality beats me!

A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have Betrayed.” The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird.”Books I Have Read,””Lies I Have Told,””Comfort I have Given,””Jokes I Have Laughed At.” Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled at My Brothers.” Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger”,”Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents.” I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived.

All I need to imagine all this is to keep a diary. And for a 17-year-old, you have so many reasons to cuss at your parents; there is always the feeling that they are the enemy. Besides I see nothing here out of the ordinary that with a creative imagination one can’t recreate. It is not the story of another person’s life but the one you have lived and even with our always faulty memory, you can create a believable story of the past.

Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

Definitely, you are 17 years old unless you were a hermit you’d still have a story to tell!

When I pulled out the file marked”TV Shows I Have Watched,” I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented. When I came to a file marked”Lustful Thoughts,” I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me.

This kid must have loved TV. I have watched very few TV shows and this days I don’t have the time to watch TV so I would write my TV shows in two cards I guess. The point where he gets animal rage about lustful thoughts is the effect of christianity on the young man. The pastor tells you to think somethings is against the law of god and you develop guilt and shame. How can you feel guilty and shame for acting as per your nature? Is it not then the failure of the creator to give you a mind that can think about this matters and then make the thoughts criminal! I don’t want such a god! And animal rage is a correct statement, we are animals!

One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.

This kid must have had a busy mind! To have such a file he couldn’t move. I can’t equal his in my almost 30 years of being around 🙂

And then I saw it. The title bore”People I Have Shared the Gospel With.” The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room.. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him.

I think this is where he should have been happiest but he feels sad that he didn’t have a great opportunity to spread the christian nonsense! Am glad the list was small, christianity for a long time and even now has slowed down progress in many scientific fields, have made many men believers and not thinkers, have made many good men slaves of dogma and still does. Why is it Jesus he sees, not Buddha, not Gandhi, not Martin Luther King ,heck, why not my late mother? Is this not part of the christian conditioning?

No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room.. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.

I thought this was his vision of heaven, why then object at seeing Jesus? Who did he expect to find?

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files.. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. “No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, and so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.”

If he is using his blood to write, he must have grown very old or how is this heaven? Friends help me here, how is it possible that a being of flesh and blood doesn’t age?

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

Can we all agree this is wishful thinking?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Why is this conditional? If as christians would want us to believe  what is the point in asking us to believe in him as the condition of entry to heaven when one can’t choose to believe or not?

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

24 thoughts on “A response to an essay on heaven

  1. I think I’m going to be sick.


    • makagutu says:

      I hope I haven’t made you sick, I don’t like to inspire such a feeling at all and it is never my intention to make anyone sick 😦


      • It wasn’t your comments that produced that feeling. …Don’t know how you struggled through that text.


        • makagutu says:

          It has been my mail for almost two months and it occurred to me how crazy people can be 🙂


        • Mike says:

          Well… leaving the religious taste aside, I personally think the writing is a bit emotional… just like Robin Williams’ film WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, it is inspiring and it can steel a tear from your eye if you get involved, but reason tells you that it is also fake and have no evidence, so just enjoy it as literature… 🙂


          • makagutu says:

            This was a class essay. It is only those who read it after the fact that gave it such a great status and put so much emotion! It is like being asked to write an essay on time travel, would that make time travel real?


            • racheljaber says:

              The thing is, at 17 we are all imaginative and this runs out of the way in weird mannerisms….shallow as the reality part of it is, i loved his literal eloquence and the emittence of his plot….he should try writing a book or something but use a different story line coz, in actuality, if he gets to his heaven,there will be a penalty for lying but on earth, he was just making good use of poetic license.


  2. john zande says:

    The human brain is at once a staggeringly beautiful and frighteningly devilish device.


  3. foolsmusings says:

    When I read stories like this one I want to grab the author and tell them to read a book sometime that is not written by a christian. Although I in no way have anything but a rudimentary understanding of how the brain operates, I know that any neuro-scientist worth their salt would laugh at this. I would happily relate to him the stories, in vivid detail, of the often terrifying hallucinations my mum suffers due to her Alzheimer’s. Lastly I’d happily relay the story of a dream I had once that was so vivid, I spent an entire day dwelling on it, wondering if was possible that the events really could have happened that way.


  4. Mike says:

    Poor young fella… I’m so sorry for his death, really… and me (an atheist) being sorry for him brings to my mind one question: If this young chap was so devoted to God, why the fuck did God take his life at the age of 17? Couldn’t God protect him?

    If heaven did really exist and if God does exist, when I die, I will not stand in front of God to hear my whole life being repeated to me (I know it already), I’ll just tell God to shut the fuck up, and not waste his time (instead, save some other kids using this time), and show me the way to hell with one damn one-way express ticket to hell

    If this kid had the chance to live more, I bet a dollar he could have turned into a new William Lane Craig or another American radical priest


  5. That’s Heaven? Count me out. I pity the poor child you who thinks that stuff. He is miserable because he didn’t spread the Gospel, but instead was a normal child, watched tv and fancied girls? He should be encouraged to do those things, not humiliated.


  6. MichaelB says:

    His fear of what Jesus would say reminds me of a recent conversation with some of my otherwise intelligent Xian friends. They were relaying to me a lesson they taught the kids in their Sunday School class about how Jesus is watching even when no one is around. I just sort of shook my head and left it alone, but I remember thinking how sad it was that now a group of kids was gonna be paranoid that someone is watching and that’s what will motivate their good behavior.


  7. Joe 'Blondie' Manco says:

    This Jesus guy seems like a bit of a smug prick – automatically checking out the “worst” boxes and ignoring the good the guy has done. I do reckon I’d give him a punch in the face.


    • Joe 'Blondie' Manco says:

      I shouldn’t say ‘ignoring’ the good the guy has done. I acknowledge that he eventually got around to signing all the cards. But going straight to the bad stuff first, what a smartarse.


    • makagutu says:

      The real problem is the way this young man sees his life and by extension how he views Jesus. He creates this mental image after several a few years of indoctrination and thinks that is the correct mental image of how heaven would be for him. He really is the dumb one here if you ask me!


      • Joe 'Blondie' Manco says:

        I agree with you on the reality of the problem. My comment was just an attempted wisecrack about Jesus as the man of the story portrayed him.


  8. Many many people have claimed to see “heaven” or “hell” or some such nonsense. We see contant claims of near death experiences. And all of this cannot be supported as magical occurences. Human brains do odd things; just read any of Oliver Sacks’ books, like the “Man who mistook his wife for a hat”.

    All I see these glurgy stories as being is just more theists figuratively standing on street corners saying “look at how great a believer I am, aren’t I so special!”


  9. This was disturbing for multiple reasons. First, all of his values are twisted and you can sense fear throughout the letter. That is, when opening each file, he becomes ashamed and then fearful that these actions may be used against him. When opening the “Gospel” file, he becomes doubly ashamed, which suggests that he was a Christian from the beginning. Therefore, he already has notions of Christian values, so throughout the review process he is simply reinforcing the Christian philosophy that all men are born in sin. He supports this notion again by illustrating the belief that Jesus died so that all of his sins may be forgiven. This means that the dream was constructed using existing experiences (a posteriori), as all dreams are, and was therefore trite.

    Anyway, I don’t doubt that this was a dream because there were some inconsistencies, such as the size of the room – at one point the room extended endlessly in both directions, whereas he later says that Jesus began at one end of the room. That is consistent with dreams as opposed to conscious imagination. However, he may just be a poor storyteller.

    It’s unfortunate that this young man died, but I found no clairvoyance in this. Nor do I think this should provide anyone comfort. He’s simply regurgitating what the Church tells everyone. If I had the chance, I would have liked to ask him, “Do you belief in the literal interpretation of the Bible?” If not, and if he thought Adam was just a metaphor, then why would Jesus need to “wash away” his sins? This is a common question, but one that I haven’t seen answered satisfactorily.


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