The Five People You Meet in Heaven: Heaven

Describe what Albom’s heaven is like. If it differs from what you imagined, share those differences.

For those of you concerned about source attribution, I’m basing some of my discussion questions on those provided by LitLovers, who got their questions from the publisher of TFPYMIH. I sometimes change how they phrase the questions and leave some out, but I’m using them to guide the general direction of the discussion.
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14 thoughts on “The Five People You Meet in Heaven: Heaven

  1. Albom’s heaven involves meeting up with five different people, each one giving you a lesson or different perspective on some of your life experiences. After meeting the last person, you become a part of someone else’s heaven experience and wait for them to come so you can share in their story.

    Does this differ from what I’ve imagined? Um, yeah. 🙂 Although if you want to take the perspective that right now we see “through a glass darkly” and that in heaven we will see things more clearly, which could be interpreted to mean that we’ll understand why things have happened to us or how things affected not only us but those around us, that we’ll finally see and understand the “big picture” of our lives, then Albom’s idea fits in, sort of.

    If we can imagine this in the realm of Star Trek (sorry to geek out on you like this, but it fits what I want to say), it seems like Albom’s story takes place on the Holodeck, where a person can interact with the environment around him/her and talk with the imaginary characters there, whereas I have always anticipated (assumed? wondered?) that we’d be having a meeting with the Captain instead.

    I definitely prefer Albom’s heaven to the “judgment where my life is displayed on a JumboTron for everyone to see how I messed up all the time and it’s humiliating and I’m ashamed to be in front of Jesus like that but then He wipes away my tears and somehow everything’s okay” version of heaven that I’ve heard preached at me for years and years. That particular heaven doesn’t seem to jive with the Bible, either.

    • I like your comparison of Albom’s heaven to Star Trek. 🙂

      And I agree that the JumboTron version of heaven isn’t exactly comforting or scriptural. If as Paul says in Romans 8, “there is therefore now no condemnation” I don’t see how God will judge the Bride of Christ for her sins. By the time that we’re in heaven, we’ll be glorified and presented perfect and spotless. The text I remember most often quoted as a “proof text” for this kind of judgement is that God will wipe the tears from our eyes, and then extrapolated from that verse is the idea that there must have been some cause for sadness that would bring tears to our eyes in heaven. Upon rereading Revelation 21, I don’t see that . . . maybe I’m remember incorrectly and that idea comes from somewhere else?

      • I think the Jumbotron Judgment idea stems from the “you’re bad all the time and you need to be good so Jesus will love you more” philosophy, a philosophy that makes me ill to think about. If we create a Zeus-like god in our imagination, one who is watching for us to mess up so he can smite us, or who is horridly disappointed when his imperfect creation acts imperfectly, then a Jumbotron Judgment makes perfect sense. I am so glad that God isn’t like that at all. No checklists. No DVD of my sins. No “tsk tsk”-ing as he wonders how I managed to get to heaven after all I’ve done. Because it isn’t about what I’ve done at all, is it?

  2. I think Albom’s heaven is a lot of work and very stimulating and exciting. I know it ends well, but will reserve comments now.

    I wish I knew more about Star Trek.

    I believed in Universal Salvation for years and have since given over to loving the idea of not knowing what happens. If there is a heaven and we do need to be judged or filtered to arrive there, I do know this one thing: there is no person on this earth who is in charge of such judging. Interesting that all the people who are teaching lessons to Eddie are not on this earth, but have already transitioned.

    There is part of me that retains the idea of being gathered together with Jesus and all my deceased loved ones at this great banquet. Not necessarily Scriptural, but certainly infused through church tradition.

    • I find the idea of not knowing to be unsettling. While I don’t know for sure what will happen, I believe we can have assurance of eternal life by believing in the Jesus Christ: John 20:31. And that gives me hope. I can trust that God is in control of the future, even if I don’t understand or have it all figured out.

      And I agree that no one on earth is qualified to do the judging between who should go to heaven and who should not. None of us have the perfect judgement that is necessary for such a distinction with such grave results.

      I think the idea of a great banquet with Jesus and other believers is scriptural: Revelation 19.

  3. Albom’s concept of heaven is COMPLETELY different from my ideas of heaven. If I just think of the setup as a framework for the story, I can handle it, but this version of heaven would be completely depressing and unfulfilling for me. He learns about his life and is able to make sense of some previously unexplained things, but there’s no joy or peace there.

    The biggest problem I have with Albom’s heaven is that there is no God there. Again, I realize that Albom writes for a wide variety of people who have many ideas about heaven and how you get there, and the point of this story isn’t necessarily to communicate what heaven is really like, but a heaven without God would be no heaven at all.

    I’m writing a longer post about this idea, so more to come later. . .

    • Yes – I want to meet the Captain of the starship, not just interact with others on the holodeck. Heaven without Jesus wouldn’t be heaven; that would actually be . . . hell, in a way, if hell means separation from God.

      I love the idea that he meets others in heaven and learns from them and learns things about his life, instead of just forgetting his life as if it didn’t matter. Instead there is time for “closure” and growth. So far in the book I at least find this version of heaven more appealing than that in “The Lovely Bones” (although I have a caveat there but don’t want to say anything lest I give a spoiler) and the movie “What Dreams May Come.” Actually, it would be cool to compare the view of the afterlife in Albom’s book, “The Lovely Bones”, and the Robin Williams’ movie. All involve people needing closure of sorts.

      Heaven to me should be rich and beautiful and completely satisfying, not lonely and empty and quiet. I’m glad that C. S. Lewis didn’t try to describe it but just say it was amazing. I really, really enjoy Joni Eareckson Tada’s book called “Heaven” which explores what the Bible tells us and counters popular misconceptions about what the Bible says (like we’re all angels or all we’ll do is float around on clouds).

      • Hmm, I’m not familiar with What Dreams May Come, but I’ve read The Lovely Bones (disturbing book). I’ll have to check out that movie and Joni’s book. I’ve been thinking a lot about heaven since we started this book, but haven’t been brave enough to face Randy Alcorn’s tome. So maybe Joni’s would be better!

        Sigh . . . I love C.S. Lewis! Your comment makes me want to go find a copy of Narnia right now!

      • In a sense, I think we will have closure about our lives because we’ll be able to see God and understand His ways more perfectly. We won’t be seeing through a glass darkly, as Jenni mentioned. But I also wonder if we’ll be so wrapped up in worshiping Jesus that we won’t even think about our earthly lives any more. Wouldn’t that be glorious!

      • I really enjoy Lewis’s treatment of heaven in the final Narnia book, and I think Alcorn’s book is probably pretty decent, although I haven’t read that one yet. His book If God is Good is really, really good.

        I agree, too, that it’s good that Eddie was able to experience closure for some of the events in his life. It’s interesting to wonder about it: if heaven were like Albom described, who are the five people YOU would meet and what lessons would they want you to learn? Obviously, Eddie would not have been able to answer that question before hand, and we might guess wrong, but it’s fun to think about, isn’t it?

      • It IS fun to think about who my five people would be, although theoretically some we wouldn’t even know or would have forgotten about (like the Blue Man). I think one of my lessons might be, “You weren’t alone. You weren’t insignificant.”

  4. It will be glorious! But I think part of our worship may be realizing how He was there all along, working His great plan out in our lives even when we had no idea! Of course, Christ alone is worthy of glory in Himself and we COULD worship Him forever just for Who He is. But seeing our trials transformed I think may give even deeper meaning to our praise.

    2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” I’m not sure of all that that means, but I think we will see how He brought glory to Himself throughout our lives, the whole “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” thing which Joseph got to realize during his lifetime. We may not but I like to think we will. Not that we need to. I don’t think we’ll be in heaven button-holing God: “You know, buddy, I really got some questions for you.” I think we’ll be lost in wonder, love, and praise. But I think God will allow us to see how pain and trials were part of His loving plan. Of course, I speculate!

  5. You three are way ahead of me on this subject. Just a few comments.
    I see God in almost every page of this book. For me, God is not “He” and God is not outside. God is within, Within you, me and the one who I would think of as truly “the other”.

    As regards Scripture, what became the Holy Bible, was determined at synods by MEN. In the four primary gospels, there are many passages that were not likely said by Jesus. I do not have a list in front of me, but you can usually find them when you come to the places where there is a major switch.

    I believe that Jesus was a real historical figure and also divine, but no more divine than you. The Church has distorted Jesus to achieve its own aims. I think Jesus would be appalled to be worshipped and he would be more appalled by the righteousness, and hurt inflicted through his name. I believe he came to be among us to teach us to live our lives as authentically as he lived his.

    I believe we are to achieve our heaven on this earth. “Today, you will be with me in paradise”. Now, I use Scripture in a way I do not like doing. The concept of sufferring now for a reward in heaven does not work for me at all. We will suffer now, but even in the suffering, God is. The Cosmic Christ is at work in the universe. Even in the suffering, there is abundance of God’s goodness.
    Christ is there in the suffering.
    I am influenced by world religions as well as the Christianity I have been born into. I have remained a Christian who is both, Progressive (read Liberation Theology and Feminist Theology) and primitive (read before synods and creeds). I am content and expectant regarding what may come at transition, and I like not knowing.

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