I wrote this in 2009. I have edited it slightly from its original appearance.
Sleestak, at Lady, That's My Skull, a blog not unlike this one but more comics oriented, has a grouping of fascinating illustrations from a book called Bible Readings For the Home. It’s one of those mass-produced books from the 1950s, attempting to show the Bible’s relevance to “modern” society.
In the America of the 1950s we weren't used to seeing pictures of other races on TV, in textbooks or most other literature, for that matter. Only Northern Europeans need apply for heaven, according to the not-so-subtle message of Bible Readings. It must’ve been popular in Ku Klux Klan homes.
The question I ask is, what did Jesus look like? We have these sort of sanitized Caucasian versions of a man who would have had origins in the middle East, and probably looked a lot like the people around him, not like someone out of Central Casting.
So if you get to heaven and you want to look up Jesus (if he’s available, that is, and not presiding over his posse of all-white angels) then he better be wearing a name tag, because if you're looking for the popular version you might not recognize him.
I've written about this a couple of times. a crass attempt to commercialize some peoples' idea of Jesus, and other references to the popular image of Jesus.
Heaven seems to be a place that has different meaning for different people. The version in Bible Readings For the Home seems to be the popular version. Beautiful, placid, white buildings, white people in white robes. Everything sparkling in its whiteness! No global warming, no bad weather — so where'd that rainbow come from? — no crabgrass in the lawn. That would be heaven to some.
Me, I'd have to have a library with every book I've ever wanted to read. It would have every movie I've ever wanted to see, or at least all my old favorites, on DVD, which means I'd have to have a DVD player. What about transportation? Are we we stuck in that white city with its gleaming buildings without a bus system, subway, or taxis? And how do we pay for such conveyances, or will we need to have a (egad!) job?
Are there homeless people in heaven, or do we all get an apartment?
Whew. So many questions, so few answers.