Is that how it works?

One problem for believers in heaven (or the afterlife in general) is how people look in that place. Most people die when they are, frankly, not at their best. They are either very old, otherwise decrepit, have had some serious illness that ravaged their bodies or died violently and in the process have been disfigured.

Very few people die peacefully in the prime of their lives, except as a convenient plot device in Victorian novels where a broken heart was often enough to cause a young person to kick the bucket. And yet people like to think that in heaven they look terrific and will remain so for eternity. So how do they get back what they lost before they died?

It looks like there must be some kind of system like the one below to deal with that problem.

heaven reunion


  1. oldymoldy says

    Not only that, but it seems to me there’d be an awful lot of excess baggage that most of us would rather not have to deal with. What do we do about all the ex-spouses and lousy parents and asshole aunts and uncles and p.o.s. siblings, ad infinitum that we’d rather not have to be cooped up with for an eternity. Seems like the first time around with most of those folks would have been eternity enough for one lifetime.

  2. coragyps says

    “Heaven. A Gated Community”

    That’s as funny as the larger cartoon! I feel my gorge rise every time I see “a gated community” on a sign already – and “heaven” for lots of folks has the bestest possible admission policies: “if they aren’t Just Like Me they won’t get in!”

  3. Pen says

    Wow, I had no idea we were supposed to take our bodies with us. I though it would be like on WoW where you get to choose what you look like, only with more choices, especially in the not so top heavy department.

  4. Great American Satan says

    That is really sheisty and controversial for a daily strip. I have newfound respect for this comic.

  5. says

    One day while out walking in my Canadian medium-sized city, I encountered a man in a dark suit with a name tag, saying he was “Brother Andre”. I had a button on my coat, saying I was a “Friend of Ellen”, referring to the much-ballyhooed coming-out of Ellen Degeneres in her eponymous sitcom.

    Spying the button, he asked me whether I knew what it meant, and did I realize that the Great God Jesmormonlahshnu (I kid, he was Mormon, it was Jesus) really hated it when people of the same sex touched one another’s sexual characteristics, and apparently has a habit of burning some leftover bits after corpsifying happens (I was unclear on the details) forever and ever and ever, unlike people who do the right kind of hating, which would make them go to heaven to sit on the right side of Jesus (does his left side smell or something, he was very specific about this?) forever and ever and ever.

    I said I did indeed know what my button meant, and that if going to heaven for ever and ever and ever meant that I would have to spend my eternity with sanctimonious, self-righteous prigs like him, I’d much rather choose Plan B with all the cool kids. His gast was flabbered.

  6. says

    I was taught that our bodies will be those we had at the age of 33 — the age of Jesus when he died. I was under the impression that if you die early, it’s adjusted to the maximum age reached.

  7. wtfwhateverd00d says

    I’m Jewish, mostly agnostic, not terribly well versed in the bible,

    Can someone point to me anything in any version of the bible indicating any physical transference from “our plane of existence” into heaven? Or anything where spirits in heaven necessarily look like spirits on earth?

    This seems like weak tea Mano. If a person believes some internal spirit is what “rises” to heaven, why would that person associate that spirit with a specific physical body traits or various infirmities (or not even just some random glowing orb)

  8. steve oberski says

    Julia Sweeney addressed this very issue in her Letting Go of God monologue:

    (The “they” being referred to are Mormon missionaries)

    And they said, “Oh — hey, well, we also believe that when you go to heaven you get your body restored to you in its best original state. Like, if you’d lost a leg, well, you get it back. Or, if you’d gone blind, you could see.” I said, “Oh — now, I don’t have a uterus because I had cancer a few years ago. So, does this mean that if I went to heaven I would get my old uterus back?” And they said, “Sure.” And I said, “I don’t want it back. I’m happy without it.” Gosh. What if you had a nose job and you liked it? Would God force you to get your old nose back?

  9. steve oberski says

    And that begs the question about what happens if you are born blind or deaf or with some other disability.

    Do you get resurrected with those same disabilities ?

    That’s the problem with making up stories, you can never account for all the details and eventually they come back and bite you.

  10. says

    Or if you were trans* and had had surgery to alter your body to something more compatible with your identification…do they force you to go back? Cause frankly, I’d *way* rather be a woman in hell, than a man in heaven. No contest.

  11. wtfwhateverd00d says

    Thank you, I will certainly take Billy Graham as authoritative on the subject.

    Again, if I read him correctly, we will all be walking around looking like Jesus Christ. He does say we will have new bodies, And as Physicalist suggests, we will probably be 33 1/3 years old.

    But that still seems to mean that the cartoon is inaccurate.

    It’s sort of a drag that the googles tell me that Jesus died a virgin — the implications could turn heaven into hell.

    But now I understand where the supply of virgins to muslim suicide bombers might come from, though I suppose those virgins might look like Jesus as well. 🙁

  12. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Well, I guess in grudging fairness, God is according to them supposed to be loving, merciful and know everything about you so you’d think God would have you as you want to be however that is and there’s the whole spirit vs worldly body issue so .. yeah, dunno.

  13. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Although both places – at least in the mythical sense* – are probably, almost certainly not real anyway.

    I tend to think that Heaven and Hell are both what you make of them and exist mainly in our minds.

    * Hell is a lunar crater named ironically after a priest, plus, I think, a couple of towns and likewise likely applies to Heaven. Paradise is a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia with a rather unappealing and certainly inglorious reputation.

  14. lpetrich says

    An afterlife is most plausible for mind-body substance dualism. One’s consciousness would depart from a body which is no longer a good home for it. Since the original body is no good, the consciousness would have to get a completely new body, and doing so could get around some of the problems that some of us had mentioned.

  15. Trebuchet says

    When we were actively doing genealogy, we used to make a trip to Salt Lake City every couple of years to use the huge LDS genealogy library. In the lobby there is (or was, it’s been some time since we were there) a very large painting titled “The Eternal Family”. It shows about four generations of people all smiling beatifically at each other — elderly, middle aged, youthful, and small children. It’s all about the Mormon’s reasons for doing family history, so that families can be together in heaven.

    I always looked at that and had to chuckle to myself. Who decides which family members have to be old? Or children? How about the previous generation, or the next one? Do they have to be fetuses in heaven?

    A Google image search on “The Eternal Family” brings up some similar dreck, but not the one I’m thinking of.

  16. lpetrich says

    Or do people adjust themselves for whichever relatives they are with? Make themselves young for older relatives and make themselves old for younger relatives?

  17. Mano Singham says

    That is a really interesting point. Do they have a consistent belief about this? Is everyone in heaven at their age of death? Or at their’best’ age?

    All these irrational beliefs have threads of contradictions embedded in them that if you pull on them unravel the whole thing.

  18. richardrobinson says

    If you were trans* you go straight to hell, so restoring your original anatomy is probably part of the point.

    Unless you’re talking to a very liberal Christian, in which case you can be redeemed and might even get an upgrade from surgically altered to born-with-it.

    If you’re talking to a moderate/mildly conservative Christian they’ll probably squirm uncomfortably and change the subject.

    In the end it’s all just going to be made up to align with the prejudices of the speaker.

  19. Jared A says

    If I remember correctly, the mainstream mormon teaching is that you get a brand new physical* body that is something like 28 years, because that is the age that J. Smith found the sexiest. I was raised mormon and I think I recall this painting or one like it. To be fair, the average church-goer also notices and chuckles at the inconsistency, which is usually just chalked up to artistic license.

    *Mormons make it an explicit point that there is a difference between spirit and matter, and that heaven is a place of matter, unlike the spirit world which is where you hang out after after dying but before Jesus resurrects all the good guys during the second coming.

  20. steve oberski says

    I wonder if this has it’s roots in preformationism, where organisms were thought to develop from smaller versions of themselves.

    In the middle ages it was though that male sperm contained a fully formed miniature person and the woman was just an incubator.

    Which sounds pretty much like the current day Republican position on reproductive rights for women.

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