Religion. n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. (A. Bierce)
One of the late-night customers is a suicide bomber. Spooked by the dog, he detonates plastic explosives hidden in his vest earlier than planned, thus sending himself, the whole motley crew of people and the dog… THERE.
THERE, however, is different for each one:
Mr. Vada, the old Japanese billionaire, Buddhist, a man with quite fascinating life story, predictably will be reincarnated as a newborn in 9 months prompt.
The prostitute, a deeply religious Catholic woman, was hurled straight to Hell, which looked and operated pretty much like every good Catholic’s worst nightmare, while her toddler son was assigned to the nursery school for angels.
One of the two security guards, the good guy (really-really good, god-fearing church-going Russian Orthodox Christian) got through the hurdles of the “clearance” and ended up by the Throne of the Almighty Lord. The bad one (like really-really bad sonofabitch and sadistic torturer) got a job in Hell as a low-ranking Junior Devil with great career advancement opportunities.
Vlad, the barman, a pimply youth with strong esoteric inkling, happily discovered that he wasn’t the quivering lump of organic matter named Vlad after all, but Jk Pladadjjmstmtimsh, the staff observer-researcher of the Institute for Monitoring of Emerging Civilizations, returning from a field trip to Planet 458 amp;*#-6-34-5 (Earth).
The suicide bomber became a shaheed and got to enjoy unlimited viewing of paradise through a small window. Come the Judgment Day, and he’d gain full access to all 72 promised virginal huriyahs and whatever else he is entitled to receive for his trouble.
Kuzia, the valiant guard dog, got to Doggie Heaven and acquired “mythic proportions”, turning into a winged golden lion.
There were a few others, 12 altogether, including Kuzia the dog. Each got postmortem afterlife according to ones beliefs.
Belief: 1. The mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in a person or thing; faith. 2. Mental acceptance or conviction in the truth or actuality of something. 3. Something believed or accepted as true; especially, a particular tenet, or a body of tenets, accepted by a group of persons.
This is, in a nutshell, a plot of a novel THERE (in Russian «ТАМ») by Boris Akunin, writing as Anna Borisova. The book wasn’t translated to English as of this writing.
It stirred some passions among the readers and the critics alike. The book was praised for its black humor and cynical charm, but most were disappointed by its lack of moral backbone. The terrorists (there were two of them, the bomber and his handler) who caused so many deaths weren’t punished in any way in the afterlife, each getting what he believed in and wanted most. The bad guy, one of the security guards, got a cushy job in Hell. The “fallen woman” was given an absolute maximum punishment for her sins precisely because she believed herself beyond redemption in the eyes of her unforgiving God. Most importantly, however, the readers found “plurality of afterlives” totally unacceptable and denounced it with passion. If there is such thing as Heaven, Hell and afterlife, shouldn’t it be the same for everyone? And if it is so…
Well, since no one came back from THERE to tell and bring souvenirs… A near-death experiences (NDE) abound, though, but it’s not the Proof Of Heaven —
Wait! I’m wrong here.
There was a man who has been to Heaven and came back to tell his story!
Heaven, according to Dr. Eben Alexander, is simply swell place to get in.
“…the place I went to was real. Real in a way that makes the life we are living here and now completely dreamlike in comparison.”
“A beautiful girl with high cheekbones and deep blue eyes” offered him unconditional love…”
Not that I personally care much for being greeted in Heaven by a blue eyed beauty with however exquisite bone structure. Let me just digress here for a moment to say that for some people there is simply nothing better in life and afterlife than, say, a hot chick with a machine gun, and for that alone they might choose Hell over Heaven.
At any rate, Dr. Alexander’s trip was a wondrous affair. Much was made of his qualification as a neurosurgeon— a career detail that’s supposed to legitimize his claim. And it did. Many readers took his word for it and rejoiced — Heaven exists! People of science, however, brought the accuracy of Dr. Alexander’s travelogue of his heavenly adventures into question.
Many scientists have found Dr. Alexander’s account alarmingly unscientific. Google Eben Alexander Criticism and see what you get — over 320,000 results since the book was published in October of 2012, sarcastic, humorous, angry: This Must Be Heaven, Why a Near-Death Experience Isn’t Proof of Heaven, Was ‘Proof of Heaven’ author hallucinating?
“This poetic interpretation of his experience is not supported by evidence of any kind. As you correctly point out, coma does not equate to “inactivation of the cerebral cortex” or “higher-order brain functions totally offline” or “neurons of [my] cortex stunned into complete inactivity”. These describe brain death, a one hundred percent lethal condition,” says Mark Cohen, a pioneer in the field of neuroimaging who holds appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Science, Neurology, Psychology, Radiological Science, and Bioengineering at UCLA.
Sad if true. No handsome young lad holding a single rose and offering me his unconditional love then?