Her College Preview (and Mine)
A Pedestrian Empathy

What We'll Be Doing at the End of Time (Part Two)

On of the topics I enjoy thinking about is Heaven, about that place we'll spend virtually all of our time, if we can even use the word "time" to describe it.  I like thinking about the continuities and discontinuities between this earthly life and our heavenly life, and I like what I've discovered.  I like knowing that we don't begin heaven-life with blank slates but with redeemed memories, shorn of the painful effect of them in some way I cannot imagine.  We don't become different persons but remain the personalities we are, of course, recognizable in our fundamental dispositions, attitudes, and character, redeemed of course and emerging in a way that is faithful to who were always have been and yet purged of every sinful aberration or excess of that person we were. Meeting each other on the other side, we will be recognizable, both physically and in personality, and we might think to ourselves, "Oh, I always knew that this is who you really were."  And that's another thing:  we are physical and sensual, living flesh and blood, similar and yet somehow much more of who we were always meant to be, indeed, all of what we were meant to be.  Jesus, after all, was still recognizable, still the person he always was, both before and after the resurrection --- embodied albeit enhanced, sensual (eating fish), and yet changed (able to walk through walls).

I was reminded today of yet another continuity between this life and heaven's life.  Listening to a chapel sermon by Niel Nielson, the President of Covenant College, a point he made,  though an aside to his sermon, stuck to me.  He spoke of the continuity between our various callings here on earth and what we will be doing in heaven.  His point was that there is no discontinuity but, rather, a great continuity between the good we do here and Heaven, that our callings find their consummation in Heaven. As a lawyer, I like thinking about that.  The big mystery: What good is a lawyer in Heaven?  (This presupposes that there are lawyers in Heaven, a point which for some may end the discussion.)

It’s true that lawyers have worked a lot of mischief, stemming back to that serpent lawyer who recast God's admonition not to eat of the fruit one particular tree to "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"  He planted doubt and sowed dissent, something lawyers know how to do and do well. The old joke is that before Creation, when chaos reigned, lawyers were already here, that they were the ones responsible for the chaos!  But that’s not really their calling.  Lawyers, on their best days, bring order from chaos, whether it’s assembling, analyzing, and presenting the information in a written brief or court trial or helping clients sort our the messes they find themselves in --- a kind of ombudsmanship.  People and organizations often have a mixed up jumble of interrelated problems.  They don't know how to untangle themselves.  They can become emotional, behave irrationally, and further harm themselves. Lawyers help identify the issues, understand how things got that way, and determine how best to shape a response to those problems.  Or else they prospectively and prophylactically try to ward off such problems in the future.  Whatever the situation, reactive or proactive, they are creators (with a little “c”) of order, countering the powerful tug of entropy, the unwinding of all that is right and good and beautiful, redeeming and bringing substantial restoration to broken relationships and social settings with all the love and care they can apply. . . .

. . . . on their best days, that is.  In fact, that's less descriptive of my profession than it is normative.  Really, that's more a prayer for what we can be.

So what is there for us to do in Heaven, when the lack of sin's full employment threatens to rob of us our vocation?  There is still a need for order.  The lack of sin does not make everyone omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent, attributes reserved for God.  Someone still needs to say "drive to the right of the center line," or "a red light means stop." Otherwise there will still be many automobile accidents, though both drivers will humbly take the blame, deal sinlessly with what has happened, and emerge from the rubble not the least concerned with their cars and the best of friends.  Or something like that.  The point: Someone will have to say what side of the road to drive on and when to stop.

But wait a minute.  That's not lawyers, that's politicians.  And we all know there is a special place reserved for them.  God help them.