We humans long have endeavored to paint a picture of what an afterlife might entail. In crossing the river Styx or descending into Dante’s layer cake, the unknown has left us open to tremendous creativity. Presently, the majority tradition in the West is based on a single framing wherein folks have a largely binary choice between heaven and hell. How we follow the path to one or the other is not entirely the same among all sects but does acknowledge mostly a similar geography.
So interesting and compelling is it to imagine what becomes of us once we’ve shed our mortal coil that artists, writers, singers and stage dressers, for centuries, have made good use of the mystery. Today, Hollywood’s entertainment complex routinely retreats to the question of the afterlife as a sure-fire method to gain market. At present, there are scores of films, episodic series, and even situation comedies dedicated to the premise that we all end up in some version of a very good or very bad place.
One such program examines a group of four human souls perhaps wrongly damned to hell and the sympathetic demon dedicated to proving that they should have all gone the other direction. Each must earn enough good “points” to tip the scale upward. Pet a dog, get a point. Kick a dog, lose a few. It is silly to imagine a spawn of Satan changing stripes, but the more ludicrous supposition might be that admission to heaven is earned like a free sandwich at Subway. Is being a vegan worth more points than coaching a youth softball league? Is a generous gift of money earned from a millionaire better than no gift from someone without means? If we can gain afterlife access status, do we have enough frequent prayer miles to board early?