I DREAMT of heaven the other day and, if truth be told, I did not like it.
The dream-cum-nightmare came after I read a piece on one of the greatest men who ever walked the face of Africa - the venerable Arch (Tutu) himself.
In a nutshell, the Arch says (not in so many words) that God is not so vengeful that He will send all those who do not believe and question His existence to burn eternally in hell.
As if we did not know it, the Arch says - not in so many words - God loves us all so much and allows us to be rational human beings who interrogate things and make our own conclusions.
Indeed, God would be mean if He gave us the mental capacity to question stuff such as His existence, and when we come to conclusions that cast doubts on the very fact that He exists, get mad with us.
As a loving and fair God, I imagine he would be more pleased with absolute, brutal honesty and I can imagine His fury at a nonbeliever who wants to score points and pretends he or she believes when everything inside them thinks it is all a fantastic yarn.
In a nutshell, it is better to say "sorry, I wish I could believe it, but I am simply not convinced". I doubt if God would be so vindictive as to be furious that the mind He gave you makes certain honest conclusions. In fact, in a fair world, God should be livid at those who do not believe but lie that they do.
Back to the dream - and the piece on the Arch convinces me it is safe to share it. God is not a small, vengeful being and He appreciates honesty.
From the days when we were little altar boys, graduating to singing in the church choir, I did all I could to please God and earn my passage to heaven. Once, when I was about 15, I told my father I was reading the Bible and I wanted to make sure that in a couple of months I would have read it all.
I thought he would be pleased as punch. After all he had got me into the altar boy thing and he was even an elder in the church.
Surely he would pat me on the head and say: "That's my boy. Go for it son". He never used vulgar words such as "bullshit" in front of us children, but I am sure in his heart he said it that day.
He sighed snaaks, pursed his lips and, not looking at me, retorted: "Why don't you use that time to do your school work? Finish your textbooks first and then you can tell me about finishing the Bible."
So I never got round to anywhere near finishing the good book.
By then, what I knew of the Bible was that it portrayed heaven as a land of milk and honey, where angels sang beautiful melodies around the clock.
Therein lies the rub.
I can't stand milk (it makes my tummy run), and honey makes me want to puke. Yes, I love music, but incessant doses of it can drive me nuts. Unless, of course, it is Oscar Peterson, Bob Marley, or Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu.
In this dreadful dream we were up there and we had copious helpings of milk and honey, and we sang and sang and sang, took breaks and returned to the slog: milk, honey and singing. In the morning we would start all over again.
Yes, I believe in God and heaven. But I hope someone I trust (the Arch?) can convince me there is more to heaven than milk, honey and singing angels. Perhaps nice restaurants, beach parties, movies, single malt whisky, prawns, the Internet, flashy cars pretty women (sorry wifey) ... and jazz.