Bringing Heaven Down To Earth

blog for the book by Nathan Bierma • www.nbierma.com/heaven

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Friday, January 04, 2008

New Yorker on 'The Afterlife: Cutting Back'

I had to chuckle at this satirical piece in the New Yorker: The Afterlife: Cutting Back, a fictional internal memo about downsizing hell and improving customer satisfaction in heaven:

There is trouble in paradise as well—beginning with the fact that the amenities We have provided, though immeasurably burdensome to maintain interminably, are currently perceived by their beneficiaries as “kind of boring,” “not exactly what I was expecting,” or “O.K., I guess” (to cite the three most common responses from a recent opinion sample). It may be that rivers of bright light and ladders of gold seem less impressive to contemporary reviewers than they did to Dante, Blake, and others. Studies have indicated that replacing all such benefits with just two activities not currently offered—sex and golf—would increase consumer satisfaction by many percentage points while cutting costs by orders of magnitude. Such a change might also reduce the prevalence of another common complaint—namely, that “all the interesting people are in the other place.”

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