The Gospel Truth

Around the Celestial Campfire | December 14, 2009

Carly Simon is my favorite singer.  I think I have every one of her albums.

She is also featured on the last page of the recent Vanity Fair Magazine.  This is where they ask 15-20 questions about feelings, tastes and personal preferences of the  glitterati.  The final question usually revolves around “how would you like to die?”

Like most people in their sixties, Carly and I are playing the “back nine,” as the late broadcaster, Jack Buck used to quip.  I found her answer pregnant with meaning if not totally satisfying.

Carly said she would like be on cliff, surrounded by lots of trees. Stephen Colbert, assisted by a boys’ choir, would be singing “Pie Jesu” from Gabriel Faure’s Requiem Mass.

The natives would give her a delightful local potion (hemlock?) and there would be lots of drums beating.  Every singer she loved and all of her closest friends would also be there as she “slipped into oblivion” and curiously she added, “Then it would start all over again.”

Her own farewell scenario is rich in imagery that lends a certain confused dignity to the aura of her demise.  Her answer is a composite of mostly pre-Christian notions about the afterlife.  While it is also sentimental because of the need for friends and family yet she also reveals the close connection between music and man’s spiritual needs, especially at the end of life.

Some of her views are possibly reflective of her early Catholic training and the fact that today many people are eclectic in their religious beliefs.

Her brief mention of her afterlife sounded like a fatalism that drifted inexplicably into a Buddhist transmigration of souls or the Hindu notion of karma and rebirth.

I think if asked this same question, many of us would be hard-pressed to come up with something as profound as Carly’s.

Personally I have not done too much thinking about the issue because it is all highly speculative and lends itself to a lot of adolescent wishful thinking.  And besides, no one has ever come back from the dead to tell us what it really might be like.

I do think most white light after death experiences might just be so many hallucinations though there is a striking verisimilitude to most reports I have heard.

The Catholic definition of Heaven regards the actual viewing of God face-to-face.  The Church calls this the “Beatific Vision,” and it apparently is an over-whelming appearance of divine radiance that is difficult to humanly fathom and focus on.

That just adds to the mystery of the event virtually leaving it subject to our individual imaginations.

I think most of us have an adolescent notion about Heaven.  When a celebrity, such as Frank Sinatra dies, we immediately picture him singing with a choir of angels with Elvis with Louie Armstrong on the trumpet.

I do think Carly has it right when she says that she wants singers and music around her because that has been the crowing achievement of her sojourn on earth.

I guess what really determines how we would like the next world to be is what interests us most in this life.

Since I can be self-defined as a talker who likes to write, words, conservation, stories and laughter would have to be part of any afterlife for me.

On a side note, I got my foretaste of my personal idea of Hell when I served on a jury one time and was the 13th juror chosen.  They don’t make movies about 13 Angry Men.”

Personally, I would like to be seated around a campfire talking with my family, friends and maybe some of the great thinkers of the world—historical figures who could answer all the questions and mysteries of my life so that I could finally know and understand what made my little corner of the world tick.

Maybe someone could tell me who really shot JFK?

On odd nights I would love to be trading stories with Will Rodgers, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy and all the other funny people who made me laugh when I was a child.

Of course there would have to be baseball. I used the story about these two players who wanted to know this in my recent play, The Last Memory of an Ol’ Brownie Fan.

The players agreed that the first one to die would somehow get a message back to earth on say, “ a cloud-o-gram.”  Well a bus hits the first one and a week later he sent a message to the other player.

It said that he had good news and bad new for him.  When asked what that meant a voice from the cloud said:

There is baseball in Heaven.  You are pitching tomorrow!

And where would God be?  Just watching and enjoying his faithful have some fun.

Author’s note: Please send me your comments and remember the old adage

Everybody wants to go to Heaven but no one wants to die to get there!



  1. Great blog!
    I sure hope you have Carly’s last three albums
    Into White from 2007
    This Kind Of Love from 2008
    and her latest from 2009 the simply stunning and inspired Never Been Gone!
    How lucky we are to be getting a new Carly album every year!

    Comment by William — December 15, 2009 @ 3:26 am

    • I think I have all of them—bought the new one but have not listened to it because my Christmas Album including hers—which is very good—have taken precedence. To tell the truth I have been a bit disappointed by her last few recordings. She seems to have lost some of her Angst. There always seemed to be an aura of tangible sadness lingering in the background of most of her songs.

      Comment by bbprof — December 15, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

  2. My favorite response when I asked Father Jones over in Cahokia few years ago what will heaven really be like. “Whatever you want it to be. If your idea of heaven is a big beer party then that’s what it will be for you.”How about an afternoon of baseball, then the big beer party. Showing my age I would pick old Francis Albert or Bing rather than Carly to sing me to sleep. BK

    Comment by Bud — December 15, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

    • I don’t think I want to sleep in Heaven—too much going on. Besides saints only need 15 minutes a night. BB

      Comment by bbprof — December 15, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

      • Being 84 I think of death a great deal. All I know is that I am practicing the phrase
        I may die suddenly from a heart attack type or linger in a nursing home bed for years but either way–I want to say those words.
        And hope that all pain and suffering here on earth will count as time off in purgatory.
        I do not expect to go straight up but will have to be purged. Hope it ain’t too long

        Comment by Mary B. Lachney — December 17, 2009 @ 2:07 am

  3. Amen!

    Comment by bbprof — December 17, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  4. Bill, You are a becon of hope for all Catholics, and a witness for truth as reflcted in your news columns and blogg. We do need another Bishop Sheen and the democrats another Reagan to stop our country’s slide in the Pit.
    Thank you for all you do. May this Christmas be a blessed celebration and look forward to a wonderful New Year. We hope all your objectives are successful, even the Mets.

    Comment by Jim Vondras — December 17, 2009 @ 10:51 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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