HeaVen and Escapism

Had a “V” themed dream last night:

I was with a group of people that we’re fighting against the destruction of the earth. It appeared for a moment that I was lost, but I stumbled upon another secret hiding place where I found everyone in the group in good health and good spirits.

On a side note, I wonder how other individuals in our dreams come to have the characteristics that they do. Are they projections of reflections of certain aspects of ourselves? Or do they represent distinct individuals?

I thought that one of the person’s in the group would complain about the pleasant surroundings the group found themselves in. I thought he might say something like, “With how desperately terrible the times are right now, we are doing this?”

Even though I’m sure about how others in our dreams come to have the characteristics that they have. The person who I anticipated having this objection seems to be a reflection of me. I think that I often have a problem with simply relaxing or enjoying life when life is so terrible for others.

Sometimes I think I’m right to think this way. Jesus had a problem with the disparity between the fortunate and the unfortunate too, and he had a problem with the fortunate forgetting the unfortunate. Moreover, one of the things that is not appealing about heaven is that it seems like it would be this escapism from serving others on steroids.

This winter break, however, I wondered if this discomfort with the idea of heaven stemmed from a workaholic attitude that I have been cultivating the entire semester…or even before that. I wonder if this discomfort is the result of an imbalance, and a failure to recognize that I am a human being, not a human doing.

These thoughts apparently are in accord with Tolkien and Lewis’ thoughts on the value of escapism. There are some who think that escapism is categorically bad, but others, like Tolkien, who think that it has value.

Wait. The light bulb just turned on. Check out this quote:

Germansocial philosopherErnst Bloch wrote that utopias and images of fulfillment, however regressive they might be, also included an impetus for a radical social change. According to Bloch, social justice could not be realized without seeing things fundamentally differently. Something that is mere “daydreaming” or “escapism” from the viewpoint of a technological-rational society might be a seed for a new and more humane social order

Now, combine this statement with Samwise Gamgee’s from LOTR:

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow…A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand…Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

Escapism. Day-dreaming. Being a human-being. These things remind us of Sam’s words. Moreover, they remind us of the Ideal, i.e., they remind us of the Divine. Seeing the world in a fundamentally different way than it is was essentially what Jesus was doing when he sought the kingdom of Heaven or life in the age to come.

Catching a glimpse of this Divine vision is not just beautiful in its own right. It is not only the thing that we are all attempting to capture as human beings. It is also a vision that will send us ever more fervently into the dark world that we inhabit with the goal of bringing heaven down here. We will become more motivated to feed the hungry, nurse the sick, visit the incarcerated, befriend the stranger, and free the enslaved.

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