The eye of a needle
21 Oct 2008
"You said you wanted to see me, your Eminence?"
The older red-robed man laughed and gestured the other to sit. "Eminence, pah. We're both Eminences now. Sit and have a drink."
For a while they busied themselves with the formalities of corks and glasses --- two men in red, one with white hair and a tanned, wrinkled face, the other much younger, with no hair at all.
Finally, the older man spoke. "The reason I've asked you here is that there's one thing... one thing that you, in your new high position, need to know. A deep and disturbing theological matter, about which you of course are supposed to stay silent."
"You naturally know that the Holy Father has regular contact with our Heavenly Father, right?"
"Well, it certainly is implied but --- isn't that a bit brash a way of saying it?" The younger man smiled nervously.
The older didn't smile, not at all. "The pertinent detail is that those contacts happen through nightmares. Nightmares, my son, not dreams but nightmares. Screaming, sweating, self-soiling, crying, gibbering, soul-shattering nightmares, almost every single night. If you've wondered why Father seems so tired, well, even though we can help with his work, there is no way we can set ourselves between him and his God."
"I find this very confusing ---"
"Now, the essential part of this thing you must now know, though you will curse me for telling you, is the truth of the matter: The eye of a needle is very tight."
The young man looked around, more a little bit worried about his companion's mental health and general acuity.
"I am not daft, son. You can ask the others after this, and they'll tell you the same. Now listen: the eye of a needle is tight, the entry requirement are horrible, the words mean what they say --- take it any way you will, but the truth of the matter is that the 144 000 saved mentioned in the Revelation are the whole and exact totality of all those that will get to Heaven. The rest of us, billions and billions, will burn. A very small handful per generation will be saved, no more. Maybe one per week, out of all the millions who pass away, and... and fall to places below."
"How... how do you know this?"
"The Holy Father prayed, asked to be nightly shown the joyous entry of souls into Heaven. He got what he wanted, and now he sees, most nights, just a closed gate and an empty road leading to it."
* * *
You has an atheist writing about religion, you gets a horror-story.
Incidentally, if you take 144 000 people over any reasonable period of time from antiquity to now and adjust for the humongous percentage of the populace we have today, you still have a couple of fellows every day --- or night, if you so will. Then, if you dilute things by allowing a long big-population future, things quickly get very grim --- and you get the dramatic "most nights".