Our family has 20,755 songs in our main iTunes library, which would take 53 days to play. Just my main playlist has 3,024 songs, so I can go quite a while between repeat listens. Often, when I hear a song I haven’t heard for awhile, it’s like listening to a new song for the first time. That’s why I’m writing about thoughts sparked by a song from 1998 that came up on my iPhone the other day.
Allison Moorer is a country singer/songwriter with a great husky voice and a knack for writing direct country songs. Her song “Is Heaven Good Enough For You” expresses doubts that, despite the preacher’s words at the funeral of her dearly departed, heaven can do justice to her loved one, especially after all he suffered on earth:
He said now that you’re in heaven
Your trials on earth are through
But I didn’t hear him mention
If heaven’s good enough for you
The singer has been raised on the Bible, but she just can’t believe what she’s been told, and the song ends:
If there really is a kingdom
Where you start your life anew
Won’t you please somehow convince me
That heaven’s good enough for you
Listening to the song got me thinking that one reason young people, especially, fall prey to secularism and scientific materialism is that they have a hard time imagining Heaven. Trite images of eternal singing, harps, and streets paved with gold either sound boring or just dumb. If one cannot accept or even comprehend the telos that religion promises, then why waste time and energy believing?
No matter what Heaven is like, it is hard to imagine being in the presence of God’s Love if you have not been loved here. For, as John’s Gospel tells us, we love because we were loved first. I wonder how many young people head down the path to atheism, agnosticism, and just plain indifference because they have never experienced the Trinitarian love of a parent: a love that is self-sacrificing, unconditional, and constant. Too often, parents subordinate their children to their own careers or avocations, or see their children as alter-egos to be molded into the successes their parents are or never were, or view their child as detracting from their own self-realization in this “it’s all about-me” culture. As a result, their child never experiences the type of love that is a model of God’s love and of Heaven. Catholics, and not just priests and religious, need to work with engaged couples and young parents to inculcate the virtues that make such love a reality.
That does not mean children of self-centered parents are lost souls, of course. Scripture, spiritual works, literature, and philosophy can open the minds and hearts of even the most unloved. This is one more reason why exposure to the Catholic intellectual tradition can be a life-changing experience. And it is one more reason why Cluny Media exists. Yes, Allison, Heaven is good enough for each and every one of us, especially those who have suffered here below. And we pray that all your listeners will experience a taste of that love long before they arrive at the pearly gates.[Image: “Homecoming” by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., used by permission]