Haunted Mansion: Two Views of What Comes Next
Have you ever noticed something of a split personality in the Haunted Mansion? The first part is pretty eerie. A hanging man, a murderous bride, dead people trying to escape coffins. Even the dancers in the ballroom are dancing to a fairly macabre-sounding song. But then we get to the graveyard and suddenly it’s a party for the 999 happy haunts! The music is upbeat and fun (and catchy!), dead people are enjoying picnics. Only the caretaker and his dog seem to be afraid. Why the difference, and why do we care?
Let’s take those one at a time, and we’ll let Doombuggies.com help us with the first one.
“Walt Disney, always a definitive leader with a heady vision, passed away on December 15, 1966. This became a crucial matter to the design team working on the Haunted Mansion for many reasons. For one, many of them were intimately involved with Walt, and had a heavy emotional response to his passing. But a more direct threat to the project was that Walt had never made up his mind about the premise of the Haunted Mansion. He had given the WED designers lots of room to follow their passions while creating ideas and concepts for the attraction, but wasn’t with the team in the end to decide definitively in which direction to take the project.”
“From the beginning, Ken Anderson had been creating various eerie storylines while Yale Gracey and Rolly Crump worked on creating a feasible method of showing guests impossible visions. Claude Coates, an accomplished art director with WED, had been working on the Mansion project and felt that the attraction could be a powerful, haunting, effects-laden spectacle – although Marc Davis, one of Disney’s famed ‘Nine Old Men,’ felt that the ride would better succeed as a character-driven, silly romp. In fact, the attraction as it exists today remains split into distinct sections: a mysterious introduction, an eerie ride with an ominous tone, and a conclusion with an overwhelming cacophony of gags and silly characters.”
Two very different takes on a “haunted mansion” put together to make one unique and entertaining (and a little creepy) ride. Two very different views of death and the afterlife.
Which do you hold to? Do you fear death and what might come after? Or do you look forward to a celebration? There’s actually several different ways you may look at it:
- A party in Hell
- A party in Heaven
- Eternal Boredom in Heaven
- Eternal Torture in Hell
- Do it all again (reincarnation)
What does the Bible say?
“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” (Heb. 9:27-28, NIV) That pretty clearly rules out reincarnation.
The Bible talks frequently about Heaven and Hell, and to make them figurative requires a lot of stretching and twisting the Scriptures. There is something, not “nothing” after death.
But what? Again, the Bible is clear about what Heaven and Hell are like. There will be no parties in Hell. Jesus called it “an eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41) and said those who end up there “thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:12, NIV). Jude 13 says Hell will be “the blackest darkness forever.” Paul told the Thessalonians people will be “punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord” (II Thessalonians 1:7-9).
Is there figurative language in there? Sure. Jesus (and the Apostles) knew that some things are just beyond human comprehension. “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” Jesus said. But the truth is still there.
These verses do not mean God will send people to Hell, or that He wants people to go there. Remember, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) But He will not force it on anyone. If you choose to live without Him for the 70, 80, or however many years you have on this earth, He will not force you to live with Him for eternity. So your choice in this life will be honored in the next one. But please understand what this means.
God is the giver of all good gifts. He is love. He is light. To choose to live without Him means in eternity you will live without all of these things. A complete absence of love of any kind. A complete absence of light (in any and all senses). A complete lack of anything that is good. This will not be a party. but it is a choice.
What about Heaven? All clouds and harps, right? Wrong.
So what is the reality of heaven?
Most fundamentally, the central reality of Heaven is the presence of God. I read a blog article by Travis Agnew recently that I think describes it extremely well. He said:
“If that isn’t enough for you, then you really don’t grasp what this means. It’s the return to Eden. It’s the way things were meant to be before mankind sinned and messed up everything good God created. In the Garden of Eden, God walked side by side with Adam and Eve in perfect harmony. God dwelled with His people face to face. They could hear the sounds of His footsteps as majesty approached (Gen. 3:8). When sin entered, God banished them from the garden, and ever since, humanity has only experienced a fraction of the life that God offered us.
Heaven is Eden’s return. It is a chance to live in a place with no more hurt or suffering. You not only hear the sound of God walking towards you, but you are able to dwell with Him. No sin can separate you any longer.”
There will be no more suffering or pain. No more evil. And we won’t just be sitting around. We’ll worship and serve fully and completely. We’ll rest, not idly, but truly experiencing all that has been accomplished. Not laziness, but not working to get by, struggling. Perfect work and perfect rest in perfect balance.
What else, you may ask (as if all this isn’t enough)? Again from Travis Agnew:
…We will obtain heavenly knowledge. All the questions and misunderstandings about God and His work will be clarified when we encounter God Himself (1 Cor. 13:9-12; 1 John 3:2). … Heaven will be filled with unspeakable glory. As Millard J. Erikson writes, “It is likely that while John’s vision employs as metaphors those items which we think of as being most valuable and beautiful, the actual splendor of heaven far exceeds anything that we have yet experienced. There will be no need of sun or moon to illumine the new Jerusalem, for ‘The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp’ (Rev. 21:23; 22:5)” [Taken from Christian Theology, p. 1236].
Heaven is filled with God’s presence, His love, His peace forever. Hell is the complete absence of those. Which of those do you think the early part of the Haunted Mansion resembles? Does “Get me out of here!” ring any bells?
Heaven is the real party (though not in a graveyard)—far beyond anything we can imagine.
Question: When you think of Heaven, what do you picture? do you know without a doubt that you will be there? Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.