Do the reasons we love music mean we would hate heaven?
One of the tenets of the world's biggest religions is that if you live your life a certain way you will be rewarded with eternal bliss. Here's the question, though: would eternal bliss be much of a reward?
Personally, I don't think it would be and to explain why let me turn to one of my favorite subjects: rock! The best rock songs all combine tension and release. Normally, you feel the tension strongest just before the chorus hits, and then it's a great big ahhhh as you get your release. When these feelings are absent, you probably don’t like the song much and don't really care if you hear it again or not. But if a song builds up to a V chord, you have GOT to hear that I chord. Got to. Want to. Must! It relieves the tension.
In a state of eternal bliss, however, you wouldn't care. You would not even notice the tension or feel the release, right? And I think such a state of existence would be hell. We need our opposites. We need tension and release, loud and soft, slow and fast, love and hate.
When I spring this notion on my religious friends – this notion of our need of opposites – they usually explain that in heaven we are no longer corporeal beings and, as such, what we like and dislike changes. In fact, the state of existence in heaven is so utterly beyond our comprehension that we can only know it once we shed our bodies. Maybe so, but this feels like a cheat to me. Without a body, what's left? Our soul? If so, then what of the humanity of our soul? Tension and release are at the very core of what makes us human. Take away our opposites and we having nothing to motivate us, no reason to live. Which is maybe why you have to die to go to heaven. After all, an eternal something is no different from an eternal nothing.
Let there be rock!
(Note: for more on tension and release in music, here's a cool post from a great blog called The Essential Secrets of Songwriting.)