The local reading group here just completed Peter De Vries’ The Blood of the Lamb. As a product of Dutch-American Reformed culture, De Vries’ reflections on growing up among the elect on Chicago’s south side is well worth the time. His reflections on the death of a child are poignant and compete with an acerbic wit.
De Vries’ character, Don Wanderhope’s grief for his cancer-stricken daughter produced ruminations (from the novel) about the value of this world that may put the world to come in a light I had formerly not considered. After his daughter returns home from cancer treatments, he reflects on the joys that comprise the “happiest days” of life:
The greatest experience open to man then is the recovery of the commonplace. Coffee in the morning and whiskeys in the evening again without fear. Books to read without that shadow falling across the page. Carol [the daughter] culred up with one in her chair and I in mine. And the bliss of finishing off an evening with a game of rummy and a mug of cocoa together. And how good again to sail into Tony’s midtown bar, with its sparkling glasses, hitherto scarely noticed, ready to tilt us into evening. . . (166)
Reading that led me to think that maybe the new heavens and new earth will be exactly like this one (minus the sex). We go about our normal creaturely activities but will not be spooked by death, sickness, famine, war, or sin. There could be a lot worse ways to enjoy eternity. (Or maybe I am safely on the other side of middle-age.)