My views on the afterlife were greatly influenced by a 1962 episode of “The Twilight Zone.” In “The Hunt,” Hyder Simpson (a backwoods version of Homer Simpson) and his dog Rip die while chasing after a raccoon. They wind up wandering down a metaphorical road through eternity where Simpson almost stumbles into hell if not for loyal Rip. Eventually, they meet a young angel who takes them both to heaven, where he promises Simpson there’ll be plenty of raccoon hunting.
My first thought when I originally saw the episode almost 30 years ago was “What kind of awful heaven is this for raccoons? They get to spend eternity with dogs and hillbillies getting their jollies shooting them for sport?” It occurred to me that even in heaven, someone has to be in hell, because in a twist on Sartre, everyone’s pleasures in life requires someone’s torment. There’s probably plenty of maids in heaven, tidying up the palatial homes the wealthy will inhabit. And in an out-of-the-way section of heaven, poor kids will work 20 hours a day to produce the limitless supply of fashionable clothing people will wear and the electronics they’ll use to pass the time. This is how we define heaven here in the U.S. Why would we expect it to change in the after life?
And if it did, if everyone lived simply and peacefully without rampant consumerism and materialism, most people would find it intolerable. They can’t imagine life without ‘coon hunting. Can you?