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The Oldest Joke in Heaven

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Most jokes are old. Some are ancient.

‘Do you know the old joke about eternity? ‘


‘It’s long.’

Ha ha ha …ha? Well, perhaps it was funnier in 4004 BC. But it’s remarkable how old jokes endure and are retold and reworked down the generations. In this case, the punchline is often nuanced with additional ‘o’s, and the number added can tell you a great deal about the person telling the joke.

‘It’s looooong.’

‘It’s loooooooooooooog.’

‘It’s looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooog.’

Humour is often dismissed as lightweight and superficial; the poor relation to the serious disciplines of journalism and drama. But behind every joke, there’s a truth and that truth is often interesting. In this case, the truth is that however many ‘o’s you add, it will never be enough. I could have asked you to scroll through five pages of ‘o’s, or seventeen pages, or thirty-five thousand pages. But you get the point. Infinity. Eternity. Mortal minds are not built for this. And yet the faithful must assume they’ll go toe to toe with it at some stage. So, put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Endless life; endless time.

‘A thousand years? Yeah, I reckon I can do that.’

‘Ten thousand? No sweat, just think of all those books I could read.’

But on an infinite scale, everyone finds their Waterloo somewhere.

‘A hundred thousand, well, now then …’

‘A million? Ten million, you say? Now hold on, hold on a second …’

Ten million years with nothing to do. And then another ten million after that. For many, it’s enough to begin the short, straight path to insanity. So in the afterlife, it pays to take every opportunity to leave things until tomorrow. But then, when it comes to eternity, there are an awful lot of tomorrows to fill.

So what can we do? How can we cope? What possible solution could go the distance with eternity while still being compatible with our mortal minds? To date, only one approach has received credence. It is easy to understand and largely effective, yet is still fatally flawed. Find out why in Thirty Things To Do After You Die.



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