Several years back a tough-minded realist named Susan Ertz made an interesting observation. “Millions,” she claimed, “long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” Her statement holds some truth but she might also have noted that those millions who do “long for immortality” are as likely to do so on a Sunday afternoon as at any other time. Man’s hunger for immortality has never been restricted to this or that time of the week or month or year, or to this or that period of human history. From time immemorial, immortality has been in the forefront of man’s imagination. Whether out of fear or hope or longing or some other emotion, man’s imagination has worked overtime conjuring up visions of life in the hereafter.
The ancient Greeks imagined paradise as the “Elysian Fields,” wherein all was happiness and there was neither snow nor rain. In the Irish imagination heaven was perceived as the “Island of the…
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