I should really give the version as published in the Richmond and Twickenham Times but that’d involve cutting, scanning and the vagaries of transferring, taking up time, so I’m giving the original:
Stephen’s right, again: God and the world are different from each other. For starters, God’s immortal; the world isn’t. More specifically while in the world, Xians, god-oriented, aren’t of it, being more interested in the hereafter, assuming there is one, a reason they weren’t much liked. They weren’t investing in this life. Their freedom was to do the will of god. This world’s is to do what we want that we’re able to do and within whatever social constraints apply.
We already knew, without Stephen’s reminder of monks up to their breasts in the sea, Christ made a virtue of masochism and the inner bliss of heaven it releases, as we surrender to our inner being, from the endorphins against the pain. Sounds like a drug, the opiate of the people! What we didn’t know is that that’s what happens when we die. We haven’t yet. Stephen has and in this, his second coming, is telling us from his experience of having died we’ll go into the bright white light of truth which’ll clean us down to the bone if we face and accept it. What else in the circumstances could we do? Scurry back? He doesn’t say what this truth is true to. Reconciling chemicals in the brain from dying? But seeing life in such clarity is breathtaking. In the circumstances, literally, last breath taken.
It’s love but not as we know it. God’s, his payment for our whole life, beforehand, to him, like Stephen’s and Christ’s. We live in it, obviously for not very long, before like Stephen we dive, albeit dead, into heaven, which, as we have already been told in another Letter of Stephen’s to the Richmondians, is within us. In my mind this conjured up the image of Stephen’s diving into himself and disappearing, spiritually so speaking, up his own …heaven, leaving a black hole behind and, next time, a corpse.
I’m grateful he speaks out of his own spiritual experience and not, like so many Xians, as if being able to quote extensively from the bible constitutes a spiritual experience in itself when it patently does not.