Posted on: November 21st, 2007 Pubs in Heaven?

On the flight back from San Diego yesterday my friend Nathan and I had a feisty but friendly little debate / conversation about the relationship between church (as eucharistic community), heaven (which, as de Lubac points out on page 113 of Catholicism, has always been “looked on under the analogy of a city”), and the larger culture of human civilization within time (what Catherine Pickstock might describe as “the liturgical city”).

Nathan seemed to come close to denying that there is some kind of overflow from the eucharist to the larger culture. I replied that for Thomas it was important that the Eucharist presupposes and relies upon a whole economy of farming, trade, exchange: “grape and grain” as I have heard Catherine Pickstock put it. One might also remember the OT imagery, rich in the prophetic literature, of the rivers flowing out from the Temple on Zion (here an ectype of Eden) into the rest of the outlying land, particularly to the East, one might imagine.

This led to a conversation on the nature of heaven. I said, “I really want to sit down and have a pint with Ignatius, and ask him, ‘What was it like when they were dragging you through all those cities to your death in Rome?'” Nathan replied something to the effect of, “You won’t have a pint in heaven with Ignatius b/c ‘pintness’ will be utterly fulfilled in your full unity within the trinity, together with Ignatius. There won’t be pints — or pubs — in heaven.”

Nor, he argued, as the discussion continued, will there be parks or museums or hike & bike trails or cigar lounges. We discussed NT Wright and how there is something in his eschatology (perhaps it is too millenarian?; perhaps it is not “performative” enough?) which disallows him to see that, as de Lubac says, creation is a prelude to redemption.

And yet, this somehow seems deficient to me. Surely creation (bodies, eating, dancing, wine, etc.) will never be eclipsed, but rather fulfilled, albeit in ways that we cannot possibly imagine.

I must admit that, while I still want there to be a “both / and” somewhere in all this (“both” pubs in the new heavens and the new earth “and” mystical, eternal perichoretic participation in the full unity of the Triune God … “both” the ultimacy of the eucharistic inbreaking of that reality “and” Pickstock’s liturgical city in a way that has medieval Christendom as a precedent), the following quotation from Gregory of Nyssa seems to favor Nathan’s perspective:

Far from remaining separate, all will become a single entity, since they are united to that Good which is one alone; so that, bound together by the bond of peace, in the words of the Apostle, in the unity of the Spirit, all will be one body and one spirit, by reason of the hope in which they were called. And it is in the bond of unity that glory consists.

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