Laughing At Nemesis

A look at the World to come, from the perspective of a slightly unorthodox Fundamentalist.

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Location: Houston, Texas

We make nothing of our own, even our greatest deeds are only loaned to us for our time. The sounds and glory of even the smallest storm belong to the Creator and to no man. We know only Stolen Thunder.


Chapter Five: Discussions

Asena waited politely, while I tried to think of a good answer. On the one hand, as a Christian, I knew I should be thrilled to go home to the Father. On the other, having so recently seen hell, I could not help but wonder, how much of what I had done deserved such punishment or worse.

“Uh, I don’t know that I’m fit to…” I stalled, and stopped in mid-sentence, as I saw Asena smile broadly, like there was a big joke I was missing.

“Daniel, you are ready, if you choose to be” said the angel.

I didn’t say anything, but I thought that sounded rather ‘zen’ for an angel of God. I nodded anyway, and followed Asena ahead, and we were back in the dark mists again. I looked down, and far below I saw the ground opened into wide cracks, more than a foot across now. I also saw why we were several feet above the ground; we were flying quickly across the terrain with each step, and in the distance I could see heads turn to watch us as we sped by, faster and faster, until we became a blur. In a few moments, we were standing in a foyer of what appeared to be blue jade.I turned and looked behind me, and in the distance, I saw the twinkle of the reflection of what might have been a tall, golden fence. I looked at Asena, and he chuckled.

“No rebound this time, Daniel” he said. ”It must be time.

“ See you later, maybe”And he was gone.

I remembered visits to various people in my life. Sometimes I had looked forward eagerly to the experience, other times I was caught up in the work of the moment, and didn’t realize how significant the person was. And sometimes, I was plain intimidated by the personage I was to see. But this was in a class all by itself. I thought about how God had appeared in the Bible; the wrathful Deity who had wiped Sodom and Gomorrah off the face of the planet, the Burning Bush to Moses, the God of Glory Who filled All of Heaven when Ezekiel saw Him, the raging wind and still small voice to Elijah, the Messiah, true but unaccepted, to Israel in the person of Christ Jesus.Thinking about the pattern of good people and the angel I had seen, I figured Jesus would be a 40-foot shining figure, sort of like Daniel described him, or John in Revelation. I wondered what His horse’s name was.Curiosity finally got the better of me, and ever so slowly I stuck my nose, then my face, past the wall into the main hall ahead. Glancing up, I realized that unless God has painted the ceiling to look like sky, there was no ceiling, and God-as-NBA-champ gained support in my mind. In the distance, about a quarter mile ahead, a massive throne, sort of like Lincoln’s memorial to a ridiculous scale, towered above a ring of what seemed to be smaller thrones, but still much bigger than any human I had ever met. But no people were here.

Surrounding the thrones was a plaza of white stone, and around it a blue sea, but calm and quiet, like glass. Rainbows cascaded around the entire great hall, reflected from where I could not tell, and there was a faint music in the air, too quiet to make out exactly, but distinct enough to recognize as music and not mere random sound.

“Like it?” I heard behind me, and I whirled, expecting to see some holy Superman. Instead, I looked into the face of a man about my age, about my height, dressed simply in a beige shirt and slacks, of a style and age I couldn’t decide. No belt, no buttons, the fabric plain but comfortable.As I looked at this man, I suddenly realized I had met him before. I started, as I realized that I had seen this man many times, in many places. I had nodded to him as he held the door open for me, he was the fireman who had pulled me from my wrecked car once, he was the friend who had kept me out of a fight once, but I also realized he was the homeless man I had decided to walk past, he was the employee I had to counsel for drug abuse, he was the friend whose affair I knew about but had not prevented, he was the stranger who had been robbed, who I helped once.I was at once awed, dismayed, encouraged, confused, worried, pleased, and contrite.

“My Lord and my God” I said, fully understanding Thomas for the first real time.

“Hello Daniel” said Jesus, and He was gentle. ”Let’s go sit down and talk”

Jesus led me to a small room to the side, with two armchairs and a low table with three books on it. We sat, and with one hand, He picked up the first book, which lay on top of the other two, a big, heavy, legal-looking thing. As He opened it, I leaned forward, expecting to hear Him speak-And instead found myself experiencing the events of my life, all the bad ones. Everything I had ever done, said, or thought, and all the pain, loss, and suffering it had caused. I saw a lie I had told my parents when I was very young, and I heard angels cry in dismay, as my integrity took its first hit. I recalled an old bully, who had hurt me many times in school, and wondered to see, later, how I had hurt him worse, by refusing to speak to him years later, when he had changed, and wished to make amends. I saw times I stole, even when I excused my actions as ‘no big deal’ or ‘someone will take it if I don’t’. I saw lust in my heart a thousand times over, with women I could have been a good friend to, but instead I never saw past the surface. I saw blasphemies against God Himself, in all the times I had prayed for selfish things, or hurt someone’s faith in order to look feel important, and all the times God called on me to help and I turned my back instead. So many wrongs, so many evils, and these were all things I had never seen as the evil they were! I suddenly realized, that these did not include any sin which I had repented of; everything for which I had asked forgiveness for with a contrite heart, was gone from this list, and yet there were many evils, so many I was weeping openly and did not care who saw, to see how much hurt and wrong I had been and done. It seemed to go on for years, as how mean and selfish and small and cruel I had been was broadcast for any and all to hear. I was appalled that I could have been like this, and worse, stunned and dismayed that I had been so hard in my heart, that I could do such things, and not only not repent, but not recognize them. Finally there was silence, and at last I raised my eyes to see Jesus looking back at me. I expected to see His fury there, for being such a hypocrite, for ignoring so much of His word, for calling myself His follower while doing such evil. I expected to meet His wrath, and knew I deserved whatever punishment was to come. But in His eyes I saw compassion, and a great grief, and much pain. And I knew, in that instant, that as my sins and wrongs were recounted, He bore all of them, every one. I could see the marks of the Crown of Thorns on His head, and blood dripped from his hands, and I knew that my deeds had placed those pains there. I lowered my eyes in humiliation and remorse.As I did, I saw the last pages of the first book fade and disappear from His hands, as if they had never been. And I realized that as each event had been recounted, it had disappeared from the book.At last Jesus spoke, lifting my chin with His hand, to look me square in the eye.

”These are forgiven, and are no more.

“Do not return to your sin.”

I trembled and wept again at such mercy, knowing that I deserved none of it.

My attention was drawn back to the two remaining books. I wondered what they contained, and a dread crept over me, as I wondered if one of them contain sins for which I would not be forgiven. Since I had not been consciously aware of all these sins Jesus had forgiven, I began to worry about what else might be lurking in my history.Jesus opened the second book, which also looked formal and significant, but somehow it was not as foreboding as the first. He flipped through several pages, looking for something, and I realized this one was not just about me. I became very curious about reading that book, but knew that wasn’t possible for me, at least not right now. As my mind was wont to do in such times, as Jesus thumbed through pages, I wondered idly who published the books of Heaven, but Jesus reached what He was looking for, and He faced me directly, and His voice became stern:

”This is the Book of Life. No man may enter Heaven, whose name is not written here.”

I blanched. I believed in Jesus as my Savior, but I also knew, especially after the reminder of the first book, that I did not deserve to have my name in that book. Faith and Reason wrestled with each other as Jesus put his hand on my shoulder and looked again straight into my very soul, and said:

“You did not write your name in this book.

“However, I wrote your name here, by My Right.”

I was in awe, and for several moments, He said nothing and I tried to comprehend what had been said. Then Jesus made a motion, and the second book vanished.

“There is one book left” He said, and I knew my trail was not over.

Jesus picked up the third book and opened it.This one was thinner than the other two, and seemed less severe, somehow. As Jesus began to read aloud, I heard accounts of my life, from the perspective of other people. These were not all compliments, some indeed were harsh denouncements and insults, but I noticed Jesus was smiling, the first time He had smiled since we sat down.As I listened, I realized why Jesus was happy to read these words. Whether the words came from someone who was happy with me, or angry with me, they all involved those few times where I had said or done something to help a person, or otherwise pursued what was good and right. There weren’t nearly as many of these as there had been sins from the first book, but they were there, and many surprised me, things I had done because I knew it was right, or because I wanted to help, or because I care about the person I was helping. I noticed, as He went on, that every time I had helped someone in order to look good, they were not mentioned here. Just as well; I would not want even those few good things I had done in the right spirit, to be sullied by the times I was selfish and proud.As Jesus spoke, I felt changes within me, as well, and I realized that just as I had been changed by everything I had done in life, now these things further changed me, and for the better. I realized a purpose to them all, not only to glorify God, as they should, and to help my fellow person, as I hoped, but also to complete me, to make me more than I had been before. As Jesus finished reading, I finally felt, as never before, like the new creature He had promised.Jesus reached somewhere and produced a white stone, which He handed to me. On it was written a name, which I knew was my own, to be known by no one but me, my perfect name as granted by God.

”I always like this part” said Jesus. ”But remember, while you are free from temptation for a thousand years, there will be yet one final choice, one final decision. Do not forget your brothers who yet need to be reached.”

I thought about what had been said before, and nodded.

“Shall I leave now?” I asked, “Or may I ask you a few questions?”

Jesus grinned, as we stood, and pointed towards the Great Hall.

“You can ask, but how I may answer is my province.” He said.

“Okay” I began, “I see you here with me now, much like any man, except for what lies within the body. Is that the real you?”

Jesus shrugged, as we walked along.

“To some degree, only as you may perceive Me.“Perhaps you were expecting this?”

A brilliant flash blinded me for a moment, and when I could see again, I looked at where Jesus had been, and saw – a set of very large toes in the biggest sandal ever made, leading up to a brilliant shining figure fit to put the Rio’s Jesus to shame just for size.

“ – but I didn’t want to over-awe you, Daniel” said Jesus, using my old name.

“Thanks” I replied. “By the way, about the new name, since you still call me ‘Daniel’, when and how would I use the new one?”

Jesus smiled.“Daniel, remember in hell, how certain words had very, special effects? Be careful to use your name only when you are alone with Me. For the rest of the time, you’ll figure it out, but be careful to remember how you use our language.”- And I realized that now, I could understand and speak the language of Heaven. I also understood the explosive power it would have on anyone not ready for it, shining and pure as even the smallest word was.

“Are only Christians here in Heaven? What about atheists, and pagans, and jews who don’t believe in You, and animals, and, and, you know…”

Jesus laughed with amusement

“Everything in Heaven and earth has been given to My authority, Daniel.

“Be assured that I will not forget My own, however they are dispersed and however the enemy has tried to deceive them.

“Come and see!”

And He led me from the Great Hall, across the glassy sea and into a field of unimaginable beauty.I saw every sort of animal which I had known from earth, and quite a few species I could not be sure of, and so many people, I could not begin to guess the size of the place.I could tell from the people, that the people came, as the Bible promised, from every nation under Heaven. And now, they were here, some enjoying a place they obviously had expected, while still others wandered around, as if this place had been nothing more than a myth to them, yet they were here.When people saw that Jesus was here, they pretty much mobbed Him in joy, although here He had no difficulty keeping from getting crushed. We all spent about a half-hour in the all-time biggest group hug, until Jesus shooed most away to go play some more, while I and a few others were allowed to walk with Jesus. I knew, somehow, that I didn’t really deserve to be with this group, but Jesus had promised to let me ask questions, and He wasn’t going to cut me off just now.

Jesus gestured for me to continue.

“One thing I don’t understand is, how can we have Free Will, but You remain Sovereign?”

“Well Daniel” answered Jesus, ”Have you read a book, which you had read before?”

“Well, yes” I answered.“You know what is going to happen, but are you forcing the characters to act in any way differently? No, you simply know what is going to happen.

“So, in my case, I have that same knowledge, only I know all of Reality because I have known it beforehand. It’s part of omniscience. I can do anything, but I can plan my actions, my words and my works, in such a way, that I can work everything according to my Will, yet allow each person their choice and decision. I am present in everything, but I am seen very seldom, only when I choose to reveal my hand.”

I thought for a moment.

“Then, why do we suffer? Do you want us to be in pain?”

Jesus shook His head sadly.

“That is a difficult matter. If I did not allow you pain, then I could not truly be allowing you choice. Instead, I used the pain you made for yourselves, providing ways for you to learn from it, to grow, to share your experience with others in pain, that they might be able to learn and grow and not be victim again.

“It is why I came to you, as one of you, to bear what you bear, to share what you suffer, to be fully man as well as fully God.

“It is why I made Heaven, also, that the life of pain and worry and weariness and suffering might end, to be replaced with the greater life of hope and wonder.”

I hesitated, but continued:“Then why is there hell?”

Jesus looked at me directly.

“Many reasons” He said. “In the first place, people choose their course, and while I love you all, if I compelled everyone to enter Heaven, then I would have to either force you all to be pure and good, or else so control you in other ways, that you would be but slaves, and have no voice or heart of your own.

“That I will not do, for I am Sovereign, not Tyrant.”

“But why would anyone go to hell, knowing the truth as we see it here?” I asked.

“Daniel” replied the Christ,

”There are those who saw Me in my face, when I walked on the earth before, and they knew that I was the Messiah, yet they hated Me.

“There were, and are, those who hate and reject anything which does not put them first. They cannot accept any God, under any circumstances.“There are those who will not let go of their evils, some even who heard and believed the Gospel, but believed in their sin even more. Remember the Rich Young Ruler?”

I nodded.

“How can we enjoy Heaven, knowing that our brothers and sisters suffer in hell?” I asked next.

Jesus frowned.

“Well, in the first place, no one goes to hell unjustly. All who are mine, are joyful that justice is done unless mercy be had in its place.

“Further, not everyone is there forever. Remember Detention? Some will be punished far less than others, each according to what they deserve, what they choose, and whether they ultimately choose God or their sin.

“Finally, Heaven is all to the good. It is difficult to explain in human words, how it is that God, who loves all His creation, can see humans go to hell, yet be glad, but Heaven is pure and good, and there is no pain or trouble which may enter here.

“I know how that sounds, and how some may be confused, but Heaven is not about joy in the ignorance of suffering, but the reconciliation of men with God, to the resolution of all conflict.”

“Beth told me” I said “that You are the only way to Salvation.

“But the muslims, the hindus, all these other faiths, people believe them fully and follow them as they can. Are they condemned for that?”

Jesus pursed His lips, and peered at me for a moment.“You’ve been My follower all these years, and you don’t know?” He asked.

Then He smiled again, and I relaxed.

“I know, that old rhetoric thing.” said Jesus, and I nodded.“OK. You never learned Aramaic, or Greek, or Hebrew, Daniel. So, by some reasoning, you could never have called upon Me for salvation, since you only spoke modern languages.

“But, here you are with Me in Heaven. And you know why…

“I will not be fooled by a man who says ‘Lord, Lord’ with his lips, but will not have Me in his heart. Nor will I be denied when someone loves Me well.

“Think upon this:“The greatest commandment, you know, is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind and might. But how does someone do that?

“The man who does the will of God is the one who loves Him. And there is no justice apart from Me, no peace which I did not make, no freedom which I did not author, no honor which I did not bestow. Therefore, no man may be honorable who does not know Me, no man may insure freedom who does not recognize Me, no man may make peace who does not love Me, no man may pursue justice, who does not call upon Me.

“By their work and loves, I know My children. And the deceiver has not gained a single soul at My cost.

“Not one is lost, whose heart is like Mine, not one is forgotten who chooses what is good.”With that, we walked across the field and approached a great cliff.

The view from the cliff was impressive. A great expanse of countryside lay before us, and the light shone upon vale and hill, as though the sun was rising behind us and shining onto the land ahead and below.Jesus laughed, cocked His head at me and said:

“You know, we had some good conversations, Daniel, sometimes when you didn’t know it was Me.”I had thought Hew meant by prayer, but His last comment brought me up short.

“Huh? I don’t understand” I said.Jesus smiled and looked into the distance.

“Online chat can be an amazing thing.

“One problem, though, is I was never able to use my own name on-line.”

“Not subtle enough?” I ventured.

“Never available” Jesus answered. ”All sorts of people wanted to be ‘Jesus_Christ’ on-line, so I had to settle for some other choices.”

“Such as” I prompted.

Jesus shook His head.

“Nope. I might still want to go online, and folks are a lot more open, when they forget the Boss might be looking in on them.

“I hear what they are really saying anyway, but this way, folks are more comfortable being honest.”Jesus looked around, then motioned to the other men. They approached the cliff, and as Jesus put His arm around my shoulder, He asked, “Ever read anything by Douglas Adams? He had a pretty good idea, and we’ve sort of put it into a new version of sky-diving.”

And with that, Jesus pushed me off the cliff.

Perhaps it was faith in my Lord, that I did not cry out in fear as I fell, or perhaps I had simply encountered enough strange things, that this new event was not all that unusual. For the moment, I let my body fall and I enjoyed the warm breeze. After a moment, I heard Jesus call to me from my side, as He too plunged:

“It’s simple, really. See where the ground is? Just don’t go there!”

I stretched out my arms, and aimed ahead, and in a moment I was aware of forward motion. I can’t tell you if it was my own motive force, or the response of something else, but in any case, I was now flying, without fear or worry. Jesus drew alongside, did a neat barrel roll, and winked at me.

“So, next question?” He asked, as we sped over a flock of sheep and past slower birds.

“I guess the big one really is, why were there so many religions and faiths on earth? And wasn’t it confusing for so many competing ways of life?”

Jesus rolled onto His side, and propped His head on His hand, and looked at me closely.

“OK, Daniel” He said, ”I see you are trying to answer other people’s doubts.

“How would you like a world with only one or two flavors of food, or only black and white, no colors, and a life of extremes, burning hot or freezing cold, silence or a deafening roar?

“Abba made a world for billions of individual people, all designed and made, one by one, according to His plan and purpose. And because people are individuals, truth and the Way, though it must come through Me, is revealed in many signs and places, so that a seeker will know the path.

“In many “Christian” countries, it is difficult to be faithful, because there are many temptations and distractions. In other places, believers are persecuted, but they can easily see where I am, and the choice is simple. And those who are willing to search their hearts, will always find Me waiting at the door.

“Now, we are all of us, the whole family of God, together. And the things which I have revealed to each man or woman who listened, may now be shared for the common gain and wealth of spirit.”

“What happens to the people who are atheists, or who blame you for every thing they did?” I asked next. Jesus chuckled:

“Well, about the atheists-“

“Oops, there aren’t any now” I laughed.

“Actually, yes, there are. Fewer, a lot fewer, but some have really convinced themselves that God doesn’t exist, so thoroughly that even direct contact with Me, or the Holy Spirit hasn’t convinced them. The Father would convince them, but they could not stand I His presence, since they have not let go of their sin.

“They are at once, most stubborn, and yet most honest, in their way.

“Now then, the ones who wanted to blame God for everything, they know the truth very well now, and there is none who may blame God for his own evil.”

Jesus fixed His gaze more sternly upon me.

“And that is part of the message I want you to deliver, Daniel.“You will speak to some who will otherwise never hear, but their hearts are hard, hard enough that only a strong word will break in, to be heard because there is no avoiding it or denying it.”As we sped across the plain, I felt a chill despite the warm air rushing by us.

I landed gently, and just stood there for a long time, staring at Jesus. Didn’t He know that I was particularly unqualified for this sort of mission?I must have stared for far too long, for Jesus grew to about 10 feet tall, looked down at me, and with his best DI voice, growled:

“Why are you eye-ballin’ me?”I coughed, looked at the ground, and shrugged. Jesus grew back to normal size, though his hair now had prayer curls like a Hasidic jew.

“Relax. You’ll do fine. Besides, if someone doesn’t accept the message I send with you, that’s on them, not you, okay?“And I’m sending a couple friends with you. We’ll meet up with them in a little bit, after we check out J-town.”

“J-town?” I inquired.Jesus laughed, and pointed to the earth floating the distance.

“Oh, yeah, Jerrrruuuuuuuuuuusalem, but bigger and better. Think of the best parts of London, NYC, LA, any town you want to think of, and then speed it up to something totally original, while still keeping its history and identity. Waay cool, everyone agrees.”

Jesus hopped into the air, and hovered, waiting for me to follow. Since we seemed to be alone, and this place was empty of everything but the yard-wide cracks in the ground, I stepped up and found myself floating with no apparent support. Jesus caught my look, and chuckled.

“Family benefit. Physics are optional for us. Wait until you really get used to your new options!”And Jesus flew off, and I found myself following. Ahead there seemed to be a group of people, and I realized some of them had been the men He had left behind when He first talked with me.One of them approached, and I realized she was a girl, a teenager form her face.

“Master” she asked, “We found Caiaphas, but he won’t come out. I think he might listen to you now, though.”

“Thank you, Bernadette” said the Christ.“Daniel, I need to take some for this task.” said Jesus. ” Bernie and the gang will take you on a tour of Jerusalem, and we can talk more when you get back here.”

And in a blink, He was gone, and I found myself amidst strangers and family, in the same people at once.

I took a look around, and was relieved to find that my new companions seemed to be comfortable with me. Strangely, they weren’t taller than me this time, although I realized that was because I had grown some. When I looked closer at the cracked ground, however, I realized that my increased height meant that the cracks were even larger.The man to my left, grabbed my elbow, and said “Hi Daniel. I’m Judas. Let’s get you over to Jerusalem. You won’t believe how beautiful it is!”

I stared at Judas, and he laughed.“I know, but no, I’m not that one. I’m Judas, son of James. Hey Dad!”

Another man came over, and it hit me that despite being from the 1st Century, they were wearing what looked like white polo shirts and jeans, and sneaks. With gold borders.

“James the son of Zebedee, or James the brother of Jesus?” I asked. James grinned.

“Welllllll, the brother of Jesus, but only the way you are, too. Otherwise, I’m just James, the father of Judas the often-misidentified disciple. And the rest of our gang…“Bernadette, sister from the Sudan”, and he gestured to the teenaged girl Jesus had introduced. She smiled, and pointed to another young man.

“And this is Gregor, from Ukraine. He was raised an atheist, but uhhhh, changed his mind.” The young man was silver haired, despite his youth, and his grin was infectious, as we all grinned back in response. Gregor pointed to another woman, who had been in the back.

"May I introduce Talese? She was a new age medium, but always listened to a voice that helped her love people, support charities, and do good at an amazing number of places. Would you believe she gave sixty gallons of blood during her lifetime? And you won’t meet a more humble person.”

Gregor stopped as Talese shot him a look.

“He knows I don’t need to hear all that yammer about how good this is or that, like I or you are anybody is better than some other person, just ‘cause we do what we should. Hmpf!” said the old lady, though a sparkle in her eye showed amusement at Gregor’s blush.

”Anyway, we’re going to take you on a tour of the rebuilt Jerusalem, though I hear” she peered closely at a man no one had identified yet ”when heaven and earth are made new, it will be even more amazing.

“And to finish up our introductions, though I hope you will take the time to get to know us better, as we hope to know you, these remaining members of our troop are Gail, Chao, Rilka, and Richard.” The three women and the man all nodded, though the man seemed uneasy, which somehow appealed to me. Talese peered at me for a moment

Richard is not allowed to talk to you right now” she said, and Richard looked at the ground, but said nothing, and I wondered what sort of trouble he was into here.“OK” announced Talese. “everyone ready for the jump?”

She looked at me and smiled a little.“You better not plan on things being all logical and scientific here. If you can get your mind open, it will be simple.”

I thought of all the things I had already seen which made no apparent sense, and nodded.

“Good man.” said Talese.“All right everyone, flex-“ and we all hunched down as if readying for a basketball game tipoff, I followed the lead of everyone else,“and jump!”Which we did, and I found us speeding headlong into space, as a memory from some old Science classes feebly protested that our actions were feasible only in comic books.

Flying through space takes some time, even in the alternate physics of this place. As the ten of us flew along, I had memories of old Saturday cartoons, where the heroes flew effortlessly through space, and I wondered if the authors of those shows had somehow glimpsed this future accomodation. I also noticed that we had already entered the skies of Earth, and our orbit was actually comparatively close to the ground, as I could see features in the towns and countries below. I looked over at Judas, who grinned at my unvoiced question.

“You’ll see, Daniel. Just watch.”I sudenly realized that we were flying over North America, and the city we were approaching was New York City. The great city of America’s East Coast seemed to shimmer as we approached, and in a moment, I realized why.As I focused on the city, I became aware at first of its original halls and homes, and in quick sequence I saw the city rise, until it became a fantastic center of light and life. Complete with the World Trade Center, as if September 11 had never happened. I looked over at Judas, and he winked.

“This is a new Earth, rebuilt as it was always meant to be, and as much the work of men as the will of God. “Heaven is all by the will of God, by this Earth, by the Grace of God, allows the hand of man to do good works as well.

“And nothing good is lost, here. All that is wrong and evil has been removed, and all that is good and noble is reclaimed and restored.”I felt like I was going to cry, it was so beautiful.Talese looked over sternly, but softened as she said:“Come, there is much more to see, and we must needs land first at New Jerusalem.”And with that, we flew on.

As we crossed the Atlantic Ocean, I was struck by the marvels of majestic kingdoms and cities we surveyed. As we approached the coast of England, a twinkle caught my from Cornwall, and Talese pulled alongside as I turned to ask;“Is that-”

“Camelot? Indeed, Daniel, it was real, and is again. The jeweled pinnacles of Tintagel are there for all to see, again.

“Off to your right, you can see Joyous Gard, as well, though Lance says he has no wish to set foot there again.”

We flew on to France, where a Paris untouched by war and famine stood, more the City of Light than it had ever been before. I was amazed, as much by the smell of chestnut trees as by the delicate architecture.

Abruptly, we turned South and sped up, and crossed the Mediterranean, and shortly a golden city came into view as we apprached Judea.

Gregor announced the obvious:“New Jerusalem, everyone. The true “City of Gold”, more pity for Cortez.”

We landed before the great gates, and stood in front of the largest city I had ever seen, and greater than I had imagined could exist. The walls alone rose into the skies out of our sight, well hidden by clouds before we could focus on their tops. The walls also streched off to the East and West as far as I could see. It was a finite space, I knew, only because I saw it so from space.

“Ummmm, excuse me” I asked “I sort of knew it would be this big, because I have read Revelation, but does anyone know why New Jerusalem is so huge?”

“Demand” replied Gregor. “This is the Holy City of Earth, and everyone who is able may enter, and so a place has been prepared for all.”

I looked up again at the vast space, and tried to calculate, but failed.“OK, thanks, Gregor” I said, “So, do you know why it’s gold? I mean, it’s pretty as all get-out, but won’t hot days be a big problem, just for one example?”

“Wellllll” replied Gregor, “It’s gold, yes, but it works different here. Here, I’ll show you what I mean. Look at the wall, here and try to see through it.”

I did as her said, and gradually the metal wall became opaque, and I could see the street on the other side. A little more staring, and I could see what was beyond that building as well.“Wow” I finally said.

“I notice that effect only works on the gold, not on the people. I’m rather glad about that, actually.”

Gregor laughed.“Yes, I am, as well.

"So, let’s tour!”As I began to ask how we entered, everyone moved forward, and I followed, as we walked through the walls of New Jerusalem into the city.