Memorial Spaceflights

Richard Goes To Heaven


The first in a series of reports by Richard Braastad from the Afterlife

After I passed away Celestis launched me onto Earth orbit, and from there I latched on to a passing comet that carried me to Heaven. Upon entering the Pearly Gates I went through Orientation where I viewed a “Welcome to Heaven” video featuring St. Peter. He explains that each soul experiences Heaven in its own, favorite way. For example, many Christians see nothing but angels playing harps – and absolutely love every minute of it! Hikers, hunters, birdwatchers and fishermen often experience Heaven as a nature preserve where they can enjoy their outdoor hobbies. CPA’s find piles and piles of income statements, balance sheets and tax forms to complete, and jump for joy! And lawyers – well, I was told Heaven hasn’t seen any souls of that sort around these parts. Me – I get to consume all the enchiladas, chalupas, Mexican rice, guacamole, Corona beer and Cocoa Cola I want – all served to me by blondes wearing bikinis! 

Shortly after I arrived and got my bearings, I had an interesting conversation with the ancient Greek god Zeus (a.k.a. “Jupiter”), the king of the classical pantheon, along with his wife, Hera. Turns out the couple finally got some marriage counseling and are reconciled now. Hera promised to be a more supportive, more trusting partner than she was back in the day, while Zeus – a notorious philanderer – promised to keep it in his pants. Zeus & Co. decided to retire the whole Olympian enterprise when Yahweh (a.k.a. “God”) took over the religious scene. “Polytheism just lost its luster,” Zeus told me. “So, given our lost market share and declining number of followers, my fellow classical gods and I decided long ago to liquidate our divine assets and shut down our operations on Mt. Olympus. You know, throwing lightning bolts at mortals just doesn’t give me the same kicks it used to when the ancient Greeks and Romans prayed for me to spare them from my wrath. Nowadays, folks just watch the Weather Channel and don’t think of me anymore. That’s no fun. But on the plus side, when we all retired Yahweh invited us to live with him here in Heaven. 

“BTW,” he told me when Hera left the room for a moment, “did you notice that pretty young maiden from San Francisco who arrived in Heaven this morning? I’m going to have to get to know her,” he said with a wink. “But don’t mention that to Hera.”

For his part, in an exclusive interview I wrote for the Heavenly Chronicle (a daily blog hosted on www.Heaven.god), Yahweh told me he’s thinking of relocating Heaven to someplace farther from Earth. “All these dag blame spacecraft are venturing farther and farther into space, and will someday reach the property we’ve inhabited here for eons,” Yahweh said. “Makes me wonder if giving humans the capacity to reason and dream of a better future was a mistake. I tell you, Elon Musk and Charlie Chafer are really beginning to get under my skin.”

Given Yahweh’s sentiments here, I sought out Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong for his opinion on the matter. He’s still going strong, spending most of his time doing engineering experiments – he works a lot with Sally Ride and Gerard O’Neill these days. But, he told me, things aren’t completely rosy in Heaven. “Yahweh never invites me to any of his parties,” he complained. Neil thinks it’s because Yahweh resents his famous “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” statement as he set foot on the Moon in 1969. Yahweh views Neil as being in the vanguard of humanity’s movement into space and eventual encroachment on Heaven. “I don’t let Yahweh’s snubbing get to me, though,” Neil says. “Actually, Jesus really admires human space exploration – he’s a lot younger than his father and has a much more progressive attitude about technology. He and I get along just fine. Nevertheless, Yuri Gagarin, Alan Shepard and I are all getting the same, cold shoulder treatment from Jesus’ dad. But the three of us compensate for that by a jet aircraft acrobatic team we’ve formed. All the astronauts and cosmonauts here in Heaven, along with former fighter pilots have joined us. We put on a show every day for Heaven’s residents in high performance aircraft the engineers down on Earth can’t even begin to imagine. It’s a lot of fun!”

The Almighty and I didn’t restrict our conversation solely to aerospace, though. Here’s just one example:

“But why,” I asked Yahweh, “did you go to all the trouble of creating such a beautiful planet with pleasant meadows, beautiful sunsets, pretty flowers, majestic mountain vistas, clear, running streams and so forth, but also left humankind with cockroaches – not to mention all the pain, suffering, war, and starvation humanity experiences?” “Well,” Yahweh replied, “during those first few days of creation – and remember that days in Heaven are like millions and millions of years on Earth – I was experiencing some problems at home, I wasn’t getting enough sleep, and as a result I had trouble focusing. In short, I admit I’ve made some mistakes. Take the dinosaurs for instance – I was sorta’ playing around at the time, experimenting with new life forms, but after a few hundred million Earth years I finally got rid of the pesky things. They would have made life very difficult for Adam, Eve and all their descendants. So I at least did finally get my act together on that. Actually, the dinosaurs are making life difficult for Adam and Eve’s descedants after all. In the form of fossil fuels, those dinosaur remains and the vegetation they ate are being burned by humans, and are just ruining my creation, Big Time.” Shaking his head Yahweh added, “That whole dinosaur project just wasn’t a good move on my part. But on the other hand, polls show I remain quite popular on Earth.”

I also interviewed Yahweh’s son, Jesus, for my article. Jesus is a really neat guy – a very sincere, amicable fellow. I asked Jesus about the history of his relationship with his father. “Despite some early conflict in my life with him, Dad and I have a good working relationship now,” Jesus said. “The history of the Bible provides a good example: Dad’s Old Testament has a lot of rules and regulations in it – ‘Thou shalt not do this, and Thou shalt not do that’ – yada, yada. Don’t get me wrong: the Old Testament has some good material, such as Proverbs, Genesis, Ruth and many of the Psalms. The Song of Songs is my favorite, but then I’m single. Nevertheless, the Old Testament wasn’t all that popular when it was originally published. Then, after my visit to Earth a few millennia ago, the New Testament came out. The early sales looked promising. So Dad and I decided to publish his book together with mine, and boy was co-authorship a great marketing idea! The Bible’s been a best-seller ever since. I talk a lot in the book about loving one another, praying for your enemies, feeding the hungry, treating others as you’d like to be treated. I’m even called the ‘Prince of Peace™.’ Pop’s proud of my literary achievement. So I’m glad about that.

“But,” Jesus continued, “I have to admit that, back in those early days when Dad first told me what my assignment on Earth was going to be – to undergo a sham trial, public humiliation and an excruciatingly painful crucifixion followed by three days in Hell – I was like, ‘No Way!’ But Dad was like, ‘Yah Weh!’ How are you going to argue with that? So off to Earth I went, and the rest is history.”

My blog article received rave reviews by the critics. In fact Gabriel himself told me how much the Almighty was “well pleased,” as did many of my friends at our recent Sunday morning services. FYI, every Sunday morning we’re each required to attend services led by Yahweh. The dress code is strictly enforced – everyone has to wear their wings. Unfortunately, my wings don’t quite fit correctly – they are a little too tight for comfort. I’ve been meaning to take them in to be altered, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Of course, our shining halos just float above our heads, so they’re pretty much low maintenance.  Yahweh is a surprisingly entertaining preacher, but then he’s had an eternity to practice. As we have no use for money up here in Paradise, there’s no need to pass the plate during services. So that makes each service go a little quicker than what you folks down on Earth experience. The music’s not bad, other than sometimes the Christian choirs play their harps and trumpets a little too loudly, but that’s not a biggie. I recently heard a rumor that Ludwig van Beethoven, Louis Armstrong and Tammy Wynette are composing a new Psalm together to debut a few Sundays from now.

As a matter of fact, it’s early Sunday morning as I type this report, and I have to go so as to make it on time to what we call “CMST” (Church-Mosque- Synagogue-Temple). I hope, dear reader, that this report makes the prospect of your future passing a little less foreboding. Take care: Enjoy life as long as you can. We here in Heaven will wait and will welcome you warmly with open arms when you arrive – unless, of course, you practice law.

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