Will there be libraries and books in Heaven?

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Will there be libraries and books in Heaven?

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1WordMaven
Nov 20, 2011, 5:41pm

If I have an idol, it's books. I've been a bookworm from birth. I remember vividly my first encounter at the age of 5 with a bookcase full of books. I have always loved books, and as I get older, my obsession only deepens, and with this I am quite happy.

As a born-again Christian, I look forward to Heaven, but with one question: Will there be books? I can't find anything in God's Word to answer YES, there will be books in Heaven. As a material being, this makes me sad.

How about you? Have you ever thought of this? Do you think we'll be sad sacks sitting around with no books to read, or is this another area where God will wipe away every tear?

2OccamsHammer
Nov 20, 2011, 8:02pm

A library filled with nothing but rows of King James Bibles? Or the "History of the Universe" in million volume set? Books by Hitchens, Harris, and Dawkins will be found in the fiction section of course.

3jburlinson
Nov 20, 2011, 8:44pm

> 2. Will Dawkins still be writing books in heaven? The God Delusion, 2nd ed., New and Rev. ?

4timspalding
Nov 20, 2011, 9:08pm

I'm reminded of the scene near the end of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, when all the magic books have vanished and the world is left with only the man who's eaten a magic book. Not good enough!

5avidmom
Nov 20, 2011, 11:45pm

Well, according to The Bible there is a "Lamb's Book of Life" .... so we know of ONE for sure XD

6timspalding
Nov 21, 2011, 12:04am

I'm pretty sure Hell has Kindles.

7madpoet
Nov 21, 2011, 12:18am

Well, we'll have all of eternity. Maybe I'll finally have time to read a really long series, such as Churchill's A History of the English Speaking Peoples or Plutarch's Lives.

8timspalding
Nov 21, 2011, 12:33am

Heaven has the missing Lives.

9madpoet
Nov 21, 2011, 12:36am

Cool! And we can finally find out if Shakespeare really wrote all his plays, or not.

102wonderY
Nov 21, 2011, 7:48am

And time enough for the entire TBR pile!

A serious answer, though, is that writing, especially fiction, is a manifestation of one of our God-like attributes. We create worlds with words.

Do you think God enjoys viewing His and our creations?

11nathanielcampbell
Edited: Nov 21, 2011, 9:10am

> 8: Does that also mean that we'll finally get a crack at the second book of Aristotle's Poetics?

> 1: The nature of the second person of the Trinity as Word has deep implications for the role of language in salvation, a fact 2wonderY (in 10) hones in on. (Some thoughts, tangential to that, can be read here: Verbum de Verbo: On Translation and its Act of Faith.) It is difficult to speculate on specific details of Heaven, however, for several reasons.

First, the materiality of Heaven, though guaranteed by Scripture, is only guaranteed of the New Creation at the end of time. From our perspective, that means that that material nature of the new creation is not yet; but since Heaven (and one must presume, the new creation) exist outside of created time as we currently experience it, it is not proper to say that the new creation "is not yet". It "began" (again, temporal words being of only approximate value) with the Resurrection, when Christ assumed the heavenly body with which we all will be clothed at the general resurrection, but in which we also already share sacramentally insofar as we are the Church, the mystical Body of Christ. But it is an open matter of debate as to how our souls after death but before the general resurrection experience the realities of Heaven. On the one hand, our souls during that time exist only spiritually, as they have lost their first body and not yet gained their resurrected one; on the other, Christ exists in Heaven already in His material, resurrected body (and, depending on how one interprets the traditions, any or all of Mary, Enoch, and Elijah also exist in Heaven in bodily form, though whether in their first created bodies or their resurrected bodies is not entirely clear). Speculations on this are further complicated by whether one understands the body to be an essential component of full human existence, in which case the bodiless soul after death exists in some half-state until the resurrection, or whether the soul can experience the full "refreshment of the saints" without its body.

Second (and I alluded to this in the first point), the experience of time and/or eternity in Heaven, whether after death or after the resurrection, is of a kind wholly different from our own. God exists in an "eternal now", for whom their is neither past nor future, but only an eternal present of the highest good. Since the experience of reading that we all so much treasure is inherently bound in time (we read page 1 and only then read page 2), it is hard to fathom how, precisely, reading would work in eternity.

This brings us to a third and final wrinkle, namely the experience of the beatific vision. As the Christian tradition understands it, eternal life in Heaven is the beatific vision, the eternal contemplation by the soul of God in His greatest majesty. Some people tend to scoff at this idea, thinking that Heaven can't be simply staring at God forever as if He were a test pattern on the television. But that is to misunderstand (though in truth, none of us can wholly understand) the nature of that beatific vision: to contemplate God, face-to-face, in this way will so far exceed the greatest joys we experience on earth as to make any other desire dull and mute. And this, indeed, is an imperfect expression of that, for the joy in heaven will be of a kind entirely transcendent of any earthly joys. It will exceed the highest earthly joy by factors more than by which the vastness of the galaxy exceeds a grain of sand.

Will there be books in heaven? I don't know. But I can say this: when once enraptured by the sight of God, you will never once miss any book you have ever read.

122wonderY
Nov 21, 2011, 9:44am

I have my Sunday School kids bring in something they've created, and have them think about how the process of creation felt. That sense of accomplishment and rush of rightness. Since we are the king's kids, we will be inheriting the family business.

trying to counteract their impression of heaven as
"simply staring at God forever as if He were a test pattern on the television."

They are too young to understand the ecstasy metaphor of being the Bride of Christ.
; )

13jburlinson
Nov 21, 2011, 4:17pm

> 12. They are also too young to understand what a test pattern is.

14jburlinson
Nov 21, 2011, 4:22pm

> 11. the joy in heaven will be of a kind entirely transcendent of any earthly joys. It will exceed the highest earthly joy by factors more than by which the vastness of the galaxy exceeds a grain of sand.

In order to transcend something, you also have to include that something which is being transcended. Otherwise, the transcendent experience is in some way less than the partial experience.

15avidmom
Nov 22, 2011, 12:38am

16fuzzi
Nov 22, 2011, 6:47pm

(11) "Will there be books in heaven? I don't know. But I can say this: when once enraptured by the sight of God, you will never once miss any book you have ever read."

Now that I believe.

17cjbanning
Nov 23, 2011, 4:03am

Why would all the libRaries simply disappear after the general resurrection? It doesn't seem like it would serve much of a purpose.

18nathanielcampbell
Nov 23, 2011, 12:54pm

>17 cjbanning::

It has to do with the fact that the general resurrection is accompanied by the New Creation and the New Jerusalem. What precisely will be relationship between the entirety of the current creation and the New Creation is not clear. Will non-human or even non-living things like libraries endure but in a perfected state? Or will they be replaced? Or surpassed? We just don't know.

19cjbanning
Nov 23, 2011, 12:57pm

Well, we know that Creation itself is good.

20jburlinson
Nov 23, 2011, 1:21pm

> 18. We just don't know.

How does that reconcile with the statement that: when once enraptured by the sight of God, you will never once miss any book you have ever read. in # 11 above?

21timspalding
Nov 23, 2011, 1:24pm

you will never once miss any book you have ever read

Wait, I can't remember the plot of Justine!

22nathanielcampbell
Nov 23, 2011, 2:46pm

>20 jburlinson::

From the evidence of Scripture and the experiences of mystics and theologians, we know certain things about the beatific vision; first among them, that it shall far exceed any experience known in the earthly realm.

But Scripture doesn't say much, nor is there much theological evidence, about what will happen to libraries and statues and buildings and cars and furniture in the New Creation. About that, we just don't know.

23cjbanning
Nov 23, 2011, 3:26pm

I've argued that maybe we should think of the Facebook (and LibraryThing) servers as rising from the ground come the general resurrection. Since I have my doubts as to whether the general resurrection is to be best understood as a literal, future historical event (as opposed to primarily acting as a corrective to gnosticism's anti-materialism bias--a bias replicated by modern-day popular understandings of the afterlife), there's an element of tongue-in-cheek there, but also an element of totally earnest seriousness.

24timspalding
Nov 23, 2011, 3:45pm

LibraryThing's servers are rapture proof. In the event of imminent rapture, I will get in the cabinet. No Catholic is going to be raptured, so they'll stay on the ground.

25cjbanning
Nov 23, 2011, 3:53pm

A thousand years without LibraryThing!?

(Actually I'm a post-millenialist.)

26JaneAustenNut
Nov 23, 2011, 8:44pm

Yes, there will be books & libraries, because we will be in complete happiness in Heaven. For those who love books and reading, Heaven must have books / libraries, then I can read every book ever written ( the ones God wants me to read ).

27jburlinson
Nov 23, 2011, 10:24pm

Does God want us to read murder mysteries?

28LucasTrask
Nov 24, 2011, 10:59am

JaneAustinNut, if you follow that reasoning then there must be TV, etc., for those who love love TV, etc.

29jburlinson
Nov 24, 2011, 1:24pm

Will the Beatles get back together in heaven?

30JaneAustenNut
Edited: Nov 24, 2011, 5:52pm

lucastrask, you are entirely too dramatic about this subject, I was just saying that GOD will have a way to make us happy. Who knows, what Heaven will be like, I only know that if GOD has anything to do with it, Heaven will be absolutely perfect. And for me, that means some great reading. " Books/reading material " of Heaven probably will be some completely new way of relating stories. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

31Frank_Juliano
Nov 24, 2011, 6:06pm

Yes, there will be books in Heaven. Beyond the sublime joy of seeing the face of our Creator and our loved ones who have gone on before us, we will find rest, peace and contentment. My faith tells me this; my heart tells me I won't be truly content without books.

Now, will there be a porch swing, a leafy oak tree to read under or a window seat in Heaven? I hope so...

32Frank_Juliano
Nov 24, 2011, 6:07pm

Thank you for this beautiful and well-grounded answer.

33nathanielcampbell
Nov 24, 2011, 7:36pm

30: "And for me, that means some great reading."

I don't want to rain on anyone's parade (and Frank_Juliano in 31 offers a nice elaboration of your answer), but we should be careful in how we define Heaven's absolute perfectness. In our present state, we are limited, fallen, sinful creatures. What we think we want is not necessarily what we actually should want (see Romans 7); what we think will be perfect may not coincide with what is actually perfect.

The true desire of our hearts should be God and God alone; all other things are to be used for the benefit of enjoying His singular perfection (on this, see Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana, aka Teaching Christianity). Does reading have a role to play in salvation? Certainly; the Word of God has given us His Scripture precisely as the revelation of that salvation. But does our conception of "perfection" as the book in hand beneath the leafy oak tree on a lazy afternoon imply that Heaven's perfection must match? Not at all. But there is a certain reasonableness behind the conclusion that reading beneath that tree on such an afternoon is pleasurable precisely because it reflects, in limited and imperfect ways, the reality of true pleasure, which is properly found only in God.

34jburlinson
Nov 24, 2011, 11:51pm

> 31. the sublime joy of seeing ... our loved ones who have gone on before us.

My mother used to threaten me with this when I was young, and it scared me silly. I was supposed be be going to heaven, for Pete's sake, not the other place! Many of these loved ones didn't make life any too pleasant in this world, so I wasn't too eager to spend eternity with them. Of course, if I wasn't there with all the rest, it wouldn't be heaven for my mother. So I'd better get used to it, I suppose.

That's where the books would need to come in -- just like in this life.

35alco261
Edited: Dec 1, 2011, 11:44am

This message has been deleted by its author.

36OccamsHammer
Nov 25, 2011, 9:34pm

35> Here is proof that Hell is hotter than 444.6 C.

http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/hell.htm

37alco261
Edited: Dec 1, 2011, 11:44am

This message has been deleted by its author.

38jburlinson
Nov 25, 2011, 10:48pm

> 37. Either way the books are toast

How about e-books?

In Limbo, all books' final chapters are excised.

39cjbanning
Nov 25, 2011, 10:59pm

Well, again, in traditional Christianity heaven is not intended to be our final destination--God's Kin(g)dom established on Earth is.

40alco261
Edited: Dec 1, 2011, 11:45am

This message has been deleted by its author.

41joeyday
Edited: Nov 29, 2011, 6:40pm

I'm a bibliophile just like the rest of you, so I'm inclined to agree that there should be books in heaven, but I think this discussion misses something critical. God himself is the ultimate treasure. If you find yourself in heaven in the presence of Almighty God and you can't find joy in your heart because there are no books there, then (and I'm stating this merely factually, not snarkily) you are an idolater. Think about the first time you had chocolate milk. You probably forgot all about regular milk and all you wanted for a while was chocolate milk. When I finally witness the full glory of God and taste the superior pleasure of being in his presence, I fully expect to forget completely about a lot of other things that currently make me happy.

Perhaps a Lewis quote (slightly redacted) is not out of place here:

“Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with (books) when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Of course, as I stated at the outset, even with this in mind, I still hope there are libraries in heaven. I just won't be disappointed if there aren't because it just doesn't matter.

(Edit: How do you put something in square brackets without it becoming a touchstone?)

42KarenElissa
Nov 29, 2011, 5:09pm

>27 jburlinson: Does God want us to read murder mysteries?

Father Brown at least should be acceptable. :-)

43WordMaven
Nov 29, 2011, 5:14pm

WOW, did i hit a nerve or what?! It's so cool to see so many responses.

44TedWitham
Nov 30, 2011, 12:00am

In less serious vein, Umberto Eco said, 'If there is a God, he would be a library'.

45streamsong
Nov 30, 2011, 9:30am

Any Christians out there a fan of Jonathan Acuff? Because there have been some serious Jesus jukes on this thread.

But light heartedly----

Yeah, the souls of good books go to heaven. Bad books get thrown into the fire.

And I'm hoping my own mansion has not only a library with books, but kittens and puppies. And no-calorie-fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.

46fuzzi
Nov 30, 2011, 7:01pm

(41) joeyday, very nice post, thank you!

Try using {} brackets instead, or ( ) parentheses.

(45) streamsong, you'll have a glorified body...and I take that to mean you can eat anything you want and it won't be gluttony, and you won't gain weight...

:)

47thomashwalker2
Dec 15, 2011, 1:48pm

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48wpmann80
Jan 19, 2012, 5:11pm

Hmmmm interesting question, but will we need them? Will we not know all things....and all be made clear to us then? :) Who knows....fun idea though. I am a librarian though....think I could get a wee job volunteering? ;)

49ikesdisl
Edited: May 28, 2018, 10:25pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

50rolandperkins
May 23, 2018, 11:28pm

Q. : what does Q (49) stand for?