August 21, 2006

"St. Earnhardt"

Recently I saw a window decal of Dale Earnhardt with a halo, and below it the script: "Because God Needed a Driver".

That sentiment sounds so banal although I try to put the best spin on it and consider it the piety of those with a simple, trusting faith. God doesn't need anything, let alone a driver, and I've always had trouble with the idea that God micro-manages events like deaths, as if he's up there constantly changing the natural course of existence. And yet of course I'm a hypocrite because I secretly hope that my own death will be micro-managed (at least in the sense of being in the state of grace at that time).

It rubs me the wrong way I guess because it seems like such a banal representation of things: 1) that there will be driving in Heaven 2) that God "needs" 3) that Earnhardt is a saint 4) that Earnhardt's death was the direct result of God's action.

I've always had a hard time picturing Heaven as merely a new earth with glorified bodies. There's a tension in this because if one sees Heaven as completely otherworldly then it becomes a rejection of God's good and desirable creation. If it's mostly just earth - coupled with the ability to bi-locate and meet fascinating people like Albert Einstein and St. Francis in between choir practice - then it becomes a glorified cocktail party. The best I can picture it, when I can at all, is it's the feeling of gratitude and love that wells up occasionally during prayer. Only in Heaven that'll be continuous.

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