Everybody Wants to go to Heaven

,
But Nobody Wants to Die
by David Crowder & Mike Hogan
In this unique and engaging book, Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, but
Nobody Wants to Die, musicians David Crowder and Mike Hogan remind
readers that a life lived to the fullest inevitably includes pain and grief. Even
more, that kind of life requires dying to self—which then frees us to
experience a greater joy: living as part of a community of faith.
About the Author:

David Crowder is the pastor of music and arts at University Baptist
Church (UBC) in Waco, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Toni. He is
also a part of the rock-and-roll extravaganza known as David Crowder
Band (sixstepsrecords/EMI CMG).
Mike Hogan plays in the David Crowder Band and, although Everybody
Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die is his first venture
into the world of books, he has done a good bit of music writing for
various magazines.

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ZONDERVAN
Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die
Copyright © 2009 by David Crowder
Previously published by Relevant Books, 2006
Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Crowder, David.
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die / David Crowder
and Mike Hogan.
p. cm.
ISBN 978-0-310-29191-6 (hardcover, printed)
1. Grief — Religious aspects — Christianity. 2. Death — Religious aspects —
Christianity. 3. Soul — Christianity — History of doctrines. 4. Bluegrass music.
I. Hogan, Mike, 1971 – II. Title.
BV4905.3.C78 2009
248.4 — dc22
2009029009
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New American
Standard Bible. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The
Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Any Internet addresses (websites, blogs, etc.) and telephone numbers printed in this
book are offered as a resource. They are not intended in any way to be or imply an
endorsement by Zondervan, nor does Zondervan vouch for the content of these sites
and numbers for the life of this book.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopy,
recording, or any other — except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior
permission of the publisher.
Published in association with Yates & Yates, www.yates2.com.
Cover design: Jeff Miller, The DesignWorks Group
Cover photos: © Shutterstock
Interior design: Matthew Van Zomeren
Printed in the United States of America
09  10  11  12  13  14  15  •  22  21  20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12  11  10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

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Contents
An Introduction
Prologue
The End . . .

11
18
22

History of the Soul, Part 1
Philosophical Journey to the Center of the Soul
IM Conversation 1
History of Bluegrass, Part 1
An Introduction to Bluegrass
IM Conversation 1.1
Columns, Part 1

23
24
28
32
33
37
39

History of the Soul, Part 2
The Continued Philosophical Journey
to the Center of the Soul
IM Conversation 2
History of Bluegrass, Part 2
Migrations and the Beauty of Sheep
Columns, Part 2

46
47
52
65
66
70

History of the Soul, Part 3
Science, Religion, and the Question of the Soul
IM Conversation 3
History of Bluegrass ,Part 3
Coming to America
Columns, Part 3
The Art of Condolence

76
77
86
94
95
99
104

History of the Soul, Part 4
Science, Religion, and the
Continuing Question of the Soul
IM Conversation 4
History of Bluegrass, Part 4

106
107

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113
126

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Definitions and Transitions
Columns, Part 4

127
130

History of the Soul, Part 5
Science, Religion, and the Still
Continuing Question of the Soul
Raul’s Emails
History of Bluegrass, Part 5
The Difference Between a Violin and a Fiddle
Columns Part 5

138
139

History of the Soul, Part 6
Our God-Fearing Souls
IM Conversation 5
History of Bluegrass, Part 6
The Early Life of the Bluegrass Pooh-Bah
Decibel Points of Reference
Interlude
Columns, Part 6

168
169
180
190
191
197
198
200

History of the Soul, Part 7
The Mourning After
IM Conversation 6
History of Bluegrass, Part 7
Bill Monroe, in Conclusion
Columns, Part 7
The Green Pastures

208
209
216
230
231
239
244

The Beginning . . .
Appendix A: A Playlist
Appendix B: An Evolution of Form
Appendix C: Heaven
Acknowledgments

245
249
250
253
271

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147
150
151
160

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An
IntroduCtIon
or
Hello, My Name Is

Bb

Hi. My name is David. What you are reading is the introductory section
of the book where we, the authors, are allowed the opportunity to declare
what exactly this book pertains to, and to ask certain things of you, the
reader. You know, suggest items you might keep in mind while reading,
a simple space where we might become more acquainted. The journey
on which we are about to embark requires companions. It would be
much too sinister to go this alone and, as a matter of fact, this simple
sentiment just so happens to be one of the few items we are hoping
to force into your chest with our small collection of words — we need
companionship — the company of friends.
Due to the limitations inherent in books, you lack the opportunity,
by way of formal introduction, to present yourself to us. But we will
disregard this glaring flaw in our introductory process here and proceed
by making a number of assumptions about you, given that you either
bought or borrowed this book or, in the least, have had the incredible
good fortune of currently holding it. (If, perhaps, this book came to
you by means dubious and debatable, we, the authors, would prefer not
knowing about it. However, if that is the case, which by the way we are
making no assumptions or judgments about, we applaud your disregard
for social norms and admit that while we do not condone ignorance of
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EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .
the law, we admire your free spirit.) Your simple act of reading leads us to
believe a number of things:
1. You are both intelligent and good-looking, with a high aptitude
for mathematics and cartography, are exceptionally well rounded,
and possess great athletic ability and a keen sense of style. (We
based this first assumption solely upon the fact that this guy
named Steve told us he was sure to buy this book upon its release;
so if your name is not Steve, please proceed to number two.) Or
2. You are like me and my coauthor, both introverted and reclusive;
consider the reading of books the sum total of your obligatory
societal interaction; are plagued by significant personal space
issues and forced all too frequently to deal with them; have
absolutely no retentive capacity for numbers, figures, and their
various summations, subtractions, multiplications, and divisions;
are incessantly nervous yet unable to declare exactly why; enjoy
comic books and microwaved marshmallows; and, of course, eat
only with a spoon, as pointy objects make you anxious.
All this we can assume by the simple fact that you are reading
this sentence now. And thus we shall freely extend our hand of
companionship to you.
Yet you know nothing of us, outside of what you know of yourself,
for we are like you. But it’s been said that the self is the most difficult to
truly know, so we will present ourselves in hopes that you may recognize
a portion of yourself and, upon doing so, lightly take our hands into
yours for the journey to begin.
But enough! It is time for us, the authors of this book, to formally say
hello.
My name is David. I am a musician in a band that just so happens
to bear my name and that also happens to count my coauthor, Mike
Hogan, as one of its contributors. Of course, you could have perused
the back of the book for a nice little spiel indicating as much, but there
you would not have found the following anecdote: We had at one time
in our possession a foolproof band name formula. It involved a number,
a mammal, and a color, not necessarily in that order. But, alas, our
current name found us before we could employ our profound formula.
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an introduction
The honest truth of the matter is that none of us in the band can really
pinpoint how or when our current name came to be. We did, however,
have the cunning cleverness of choosing not to use a definite article in it.
That’s largely due to our wanting to make a statement. We wished for a
name that really said something. To discard the definite article is a bold,
daring move, one that should not be underestimated. So take note of
your authors, me and Mr. Hogan, henceforth known as merely Hogan,
for both our musicality and our bravery — qualities fit for making two
fantastic travel companions.
n ow, because there are multiple authors, we realize there is great
potential for confusion to arise. For instance, one may be reading a
passage and wondering all the while, Who exactly is responsible, Crowder
or Hogan? Such irritation could easily make the prospects of finishing
this book exceedingly dim.
We would solve the problem by having the foresight to create a bit
of space here in the introduction for you to get to know us a little. We
would give you insight into our respected characters and personalities.
Thus, when you are reading a particular passage, you will have a clearer
suspicion of the one responsible.
I am sad. Therefore anytime you read something sad, you should
attribute it to me.
Hogan is also sad but less sad, so anything less saddening is mostly
his fault.
I have the propensity for inflationary commentary and overexaggeration, so anytime you read something that is too definitively vast
or impractically impossible to take in, such as the inestimable depth of
sadness in both of the authors, attribute that to me.
Hogan has a tendency toward irony and understatement, so when you
read something like “David is sad,” it is most definitely Hogan who wrote it.
I enjoy tea.
So does Hogan.
So that will be confusing if you encounter something similar to:
I found myself squinting, while holding a now cold cup of tea that
was still shaking in its saucer, outside a rather smallish cafe, and I
was attempting a determination as to whether the sun’s yellow was
welcoming or taunting me. Yellow was too happy a color for today.

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EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .
Something as large as the sun should not be so happy. n ot today. And
it was spreading its yellow everywhere. And the tea should have still
been hot, and there should have been more of it. The cup was easily half
empty. Yes, the sun was most definitely taunting.

It would be almost impossible to tell whether Hogan or I had
written this except by noting one particular sentence toward the very
end pertaining to the cup being half empty. Most definitely written by
Hogan. (However, this was written by me, as an example.)
But, you see, he is a pessimist. He often sees things from a “half
empty” perspective. Anytime you read something from this jaded,
cynical vantage point, it is Hogan.
I, on the other hand, find that the cup is merely too small. It is not
the liquid that should be called into question, but the container. It is the
whole that is flawed and in need of disposal. The cup should, as a result,
be shattered to bits there on the yellow concrete.1
Then there is the detail that Hogan is our violinist, DJ, and resident
musicologist. His retention of band names and their respective album
releases and the historical impact and implications of such entities on
the general public is nothing short of fantastic. His brain works in an
archival way of sorts, with the filing and retrieval of these mostly useless2
bits of information transpiring in such a flurry as to produce an almost
audible low humming noise if he leans over and allows you to press your
ear against the crown of his head. Therefore, when you find reference to
a particular genre of music and the history contained therein, you should
initially consider Hogan to be responsible. Unless it is tragically sad.
Then it could be either of us.
It hasn’t always been like this.
Granted, we can’t exactly remember not feeling the weight of this
sadness, but I insist there once was a time that we did not. And not to say
that there aren’t now instances of terrific joy would be one more example
1

At this moment please make reference to the few sentences appearing earlier in the introduction suggesting one of the authors holds unhealthy inclinations to ward over-exaggeration
and boasts a pr edisposition to ward drama. The annotated sentence should therefore be
reread in light of that.
2 Useless, unless of course you find yourself writing a book pertaining, in some loose sense,
to a specific genre of music.

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an introduction
of unnecessary drama. But there is most definitely a weight — the
suffering weight of a collective grief, perhaps. One might suggest this
book is the plain fault of our heads’ and hearts’ locale over a number of
years past. People in the proximity of our affections keep dying. For a
while, cancer was the antagonist. We found ourselves in the cyclical ebb
and flow of onsets and remissions, the real-life drama of ignited hopes
and crushing disappointments, and then eventually we would reach the
seemingly inevitable moment of final transpirations. There would be the
same conversations over and over. Condolences. Commiseration. Hugs
and handshakes. Looks of concern and care. Sympathy. We were getting
good at these. We could perfectly intonate names in a way that brought
calm and assurance while reading them out loud from little white florist
cards attached to flowers in the viewing rooms. “Oh. The Smiths. That is
so kind of them. _______ just loved them.”
I began to realize that the flowers were there to distract. At first I fell
for it. They stole my eyes from the open casket where my friend or family
member lay; their blatant greens and reds and yellows and whites gave me
something to look at and talk about while my insides strengthened. Then
all the rooms started smelling the same. Consequently, it then seemed
to me that the flowers were exerting great effort toward filling the room
with something living but failing miserably at it. It’s frightening when
you can feel flowers trying too hard. They were no longer pulling life
from the ground and sky, but stuck in a dimly lit room dying next to the
dead. And this was supposed to make me feel better.
But cancer had a pace that we had adjusted to. It gave you time to
brace for the smell of flowers. Time to get yourself composed and ready.
Then a new antagonist entered our story.
Electricity.
On October 30, 2005, Kyle Lake, my close friend and pastor of the
church I helped start and am still a part of, was electrocuted and died
while baptizing a friend of ours during the Sunday morning ser vice.
Things inside us began to spill over, and we started collecting them
in this book.
We have chosen bluegrass music as a means to discuss death and the
soul, our grief and mourning, and the resulting hope that was born out
of it. Hogan once told me, on a particularly tragic day, that he had a very
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EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .
sinking feeling that there just wasn’t much of anything to live for here
on earth. That even the good stuff was so fleeting, so very easily stripped
from you, that he felt existence created suffering too great for one planet
to contain. He was simply being honest and vulnerable in a rather dark
moment. But I suggested that maybe it’s not that there is not enough
here to live for, just that here is not enough. Maybe it’s the container
that’s flawed. The thing about grief is that it makes it terribly difficult to
see further than the feelings that are in your chest. It tints your world.
Everything you see is colored and blurred from your heart’s sinking. You
say things you wish you could take back. He tried to tell me later that he
didn’t know what he was saying. That he was just spewing words because
he was sad and didn’t have any that were lighter than those that landed
on me. I’m sure there are more words like the ones that fell from his chest
here in these pages, but maybe this book can be your bluegrass.
Bluegrass music holds both suffering and hope. Both are inherent and
necessary.
And so we begin with a premise: the “high lonesome sound” of
bluegrass music is born from pain, yet despite such roots, flowers
into hope. We are not scientists; therefore, we are not scientific in the
formation or conception of this premise or in its proof.
But we will tell the story of bluegrass, and of ourselves. And you
can hear that it is truth. That it is, in fact, pain that birthed this high
lonesome sound. In the living of life here on earth, there is most assuredly
present a large amount of joy, but there is also a given amount of pain.
Bluegrass is a shaking, shimmering echo of this — our reality.
Have you ever sat quietly in a dark room with only the green glow of
stereo lights cracking the black while Ralph Stanley’s voice pours lonely
from speakers, moving the molecules of air toward you?3 You can feel
your heart start to fold in on itself as your eardrums unsettle from black
stillness into melancholic motion by the changing air pressure, their
3

Odds are you have not. I mean, for one, who does that? And second, there is a good chance
you may hav e even found y ourself muttering the wor ds “ Who is Ralph S tanley?” while
reading that sentence. Personally, I first came upon Ralph’s name, not through his music,
but through a tatter ed sticker affixed to a beat-up guitar case. I t suggested the following
in bright, bold yellow lettering against a firm black background: “Ralph Stanley for President.” I am now of the opinion that this is not too terrible of an idea.

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an introduction
beating shooting tiny packets of electric pulses through the interior of
your sorrowful skull.
Apparently neural impulses travel anywhere from two miles per
hour to two hundred miles per hour. Pain impulses travel at the slowest
of these speeds. Scientists say that the sensation of touch travels faster.
They say if you stub your toe, you feel the pressure of the object almost
immediately, but the pain doesn’t hit until two or three seconds later. But
my perception is that emotional pain moves at light speed. Here, watch.
Think of the person closest to you, the one you find it most difficult
to picture existence without. Then imagine them gone. Gone as in no
longer living and breathing the same air as you. Feel that? Heartbreak is
immediate. At electric speed your world is dissolved. But if scientists are
correct — if touch travels faster than pain — then maybe we need those
around us to pull in close, to beat pain to the punch with touch, to brace
us before we shatter.
Listen to Ralph’s voice one night in the dark. You will feel the weight
of mortal humanity in it. There is pain in that voice, and it moves fast.
Have you heard the banjo of Earl Scruggs? It will quickly break your heart.
I promise. Both are voices from a tradition that suffered communally.
This book is a meditation on grief and the soul. It is a book about the
pain of absence. It is about the sharpness of memory that eventually dulls
into something we both fear and pray for. It is a book about dying. The
kind of dying that involves the physical body that every one of us will one
day experience, but also the kind of dying that is necessary, before that
moment of mortal death, for true living to begin.
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. And
heaven, if we’re to believe what was proposed by a man two thousand
years ago, is a kingdom coming and a kingdom here and now; something
for the present not reserved entirely for the ever after. Right now we exist
somewhere between here and there, and bluegrass carries the high lonesome
sound of our in-between condition in the rise and fall of its lyrics and its
melody lines that reach and plummet like the slopes of the Appalachians.
n one of us are getting out of here alive, but death is not the ultimate
calamity. True life is life together, despite the pain. Touch travels faster
than pain. Death does not win. It is the beginning.

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Prologue
Bb

There are some deaths which, upon occurrence, arrest the considerations
of the public at large. There is something — be it the public visibility of
the individual or the curiously unusual or wholly universal circumstances
surrounding the death — that coerces our attention and empathy.
For me, the first recognition of this phenomenon was while sitting at
the bar with my wife at the Red Lobster in Waco, Texas. We were waiting
on a table. It was September 1, 1997. The televisions scattered around
us announced that an English princess had died. Our collective grief
ignited; a planet wept. I cried right along. Sitting there with cheese sticks
and a Dr Pepper, I cried for a princess I didn’t even know.
The New York Times reported that the posture of the massive crowds
of mourners appeared to hold “something more Latin than British . . .
the intensity of people’s words and actions; a largely Protestant culture
that epitomizes restraint and values privacy was galvanized by a need to
display its powerful emotions publicly.” 1
As a funeral procession advanced through the corridor of overt grief
that lined Kensington High Street winding toward Westminster Abbey,
we joined through television sets and radio broadcasts. Physical distance
1

New York Times (September 7, 1997, intl. ed.): 1.

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prologue
was overcome by empathetic proximity, or the transferable nearness of
emotional presence. Death united us, pulled us together. In excess of a
million bouquets, garlands, sprays of flowers, cards, and signs bearing
our sentiments rested in front of royal palaces. Questions came from the
mourners: How could someone attempting such good die so dreadfully?
Did it have to come so unforeseen and immediate? Was this real? Was she
really gone? How can she be gone?2
Within minutes of four pistol shots being fired outside a n ew York
City apartment located at the corner of Seventy-Second Street and
Central Park West, crowds gathered to mourn the death of John Lennon.
There was Columbine. There was Oklahoma City. There was September
11th. Before these, two wars involving no less than the entire planet; at
least, that’s what their titles indicate. More crowds. More collective tears.
You know how sometimes in the middle of the summer — when
rain has been scarce and the sun has been hot and the ground is dry and
cracked — a storm hits? The water comes in torrents, sounding its arrival
with claps of thunder and cracks in the sky. It’s all too much for the soil
to hold, and then suddenly, violently there is a flood. Grief arrives with
this force. It is itself a force, unstoppable, and no one is safe from it. Once
upon a time, we almost drowned from the grief of God.3
If the earth were a cup, it would seem too utterly small to contain our
collected grief; the gathered tears will spill over.
In his book Buried Communities, Kurt Fosso writes,
The loss of a family member or close friend can easily spark a desire for the
social possibilities afforded by sharing one’s grief with others, particularly
when that grief is felt to be burdensome or even unbearable. It seems
clear from these social manifestations that for such grief to be shared
there must be something common to those who gather together, whether
what is imparted is grief for the deceased or the unique problems of grief
itself. One widower or widow or friend or neighbor seeks out another for
comfort and for the particular kind of social cohesion offered by mutual
mourning . . . that sense of shared, personal loss.4
2
3
4

Kurt Fosso, Buried Communities: Wordsworth and the Bonds of M ourning (Albany: S tate
University of n ew York Press, 2004), ix.
Genesis 6:6 – 7.
Fosso, Buried Communities, x.

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EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .
Commonality is significant to our belonging; to share similar
characteristics or homogenous qualities with those around us brings a
profound sense of comfort. In a moment of public tragedy, it seems it
is enough just to be human; that our condition here, situated on planet
Earth, with flesh and bone and blood and breath, is a struggle common
enough to include us all. A death that captures public attention and
holds a story line compelling or intimate enough to provoke public
mourning brings with it cohesion, a declaration that we are not alone in
our human experience. If only in the sense that we all have the capacity
to bear loss, that we all have the capacity for human attachment, that
we can be bound with things invisible to the point that a severing of this
invisible bond rips at our collective heart. It is as if we look around and
ask, “Do you feel that? Can you feel these various things coming apart
in your chest?”
Due to its bizarre circumstances, the death of Kyle Lake and his
subsequent burial on All Saints’ Day quickly became national news. It
was extraordinarily odd to view his name running along the bottom of
Headline News with the word electrocuted following close behind it. Kyle
was not a visible public figure. He was simply the humble pastor of a
small church in a fairly small Texas college town. He was the author of
two modest-selling books.5 He was a thirty-three-year-old husband and
father of three children — one five-year-old daughter and two three-yearold twin boys with the blondest hair you’ve ever seen.
Only the freakish oddity of the way he died could attract mass media
attention. For a pastor to die of electrocution while standing in the
Christian symbol of new life was nothing short of paradox. And it was
a public death in the most real sense, one transpiring in full view of a
wife and congregation who loved him entirely. I’m certain these are the
reasons it was picked up by the Associated Press and Cnn and why, a
few weeks later, my cab driver in Washington, D.C., asked about it when
I mentioned I was from Waco.

5

Kyle Lake, Understanding God’s Will: How to Hack the Equation Without Formulas (Orlando: Relevant, 2004) released October 31, 2004, the day after the day he would die a y ear
later. And (re)Understanding Prayer: A Fresh Approach to Conversation with God (Orlando:
Relevant, October 11, 2005).

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prologue
I, however, chose to believe that the world knew what had been
collectively lost that morning, and that’s what the fuss was all about.
When a person plays a role of such mass and significance in one’s life, one
assumes that the whole of creation feels the moment of his exit too, that
the severing is as severe and deeply felt.
I thought for sure you were sitting in a Red Lobster somewhere
crying with me.

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theBend
..
b ....

it was the best day yet. a few solitary clouds hung in the sky, left over
from the hurricane that had passed through orlando just days before, but
the sun was winning and it felt good on my skin. the air seemed happy.
the space around the clouds was full of the deepest blue, and where the
blue met the ground, the grass was ideal. i could feel the blades folding
under my shoes, giving in to my weight and giving off the distinct smell
of crushed green as i walked toward the pyramid of range balls. the
molecules around me were inventive and resourceful. the most minuscule
hairs on my skin were acute and ready. i could feel everything. my friends
shane, jack, and jason were with me. our movements were animation.
an artist of immense capabilities had made this day. my heart hovered
in ascendance. it was rising in my chest. i pulled out my nine iron and
scooted a ball along the grass toward me. i watched as jason swung and
his ball flew against the blue that was in between the clouds and the sun
and me.
“this is going to be great,” i said.
and i meant it. completely. great is a ridiculous word, but it was all i
had. i knew that today would be an exceptionally brilliant day. then my
phone rang . . .

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History
of the

soul

Pa r t 1
Part

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Philosophical
Journey to the
Center of the Soul
or
The Weight Is a Gift Part 1

Bb

The opening lines of a rather large, intimidating volume called Flesh in
the Age of Reason, by one Roy Porter, read as follows:
Who are we?
Our contemporary Western secular sense of identity stems directly
from transformations occurring in the centuries since the Renaissance.
These developments are often characterized as the “death of the soul”; but
inseparable from such a process, and no less salient, has been the reappraisal
of the body. The two have been symbiotic in the refiguring of the self.1

If you are able to sift through the quote without the use of a
dictionary and a college professor, you’ll be able to get the gist of what
this mammoth book is all about, namely the “death of the soul,” the rise
in importance of the physical body, and how those two things influence
the ever-evolving pastime of self-discovery. Or more simply, “Who are
we?” Seeing as how Porter passed on before the book was published, we
can only hope that he found what he was looking for.
But that question — Who are we? — holds a lot of weight. Sometimes
the answer is simple. If you ask a group of thirteen-year-old girls dressed
1

Roy Porter, Flesh in the Age of Reason: How the Enlightenment Transformed the Way We See
Our Bodies and Souls (London: Penguin, 2004), 3.

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history of the soul, part 1
in matching cheerleader uniforms who they are, they will most likely
give you the answer you would expect, though with a little more spunk
and eye rolling than necessary. But if you were to ask the same question
to a university philosophy student, the answer would become more
complex.2 All in all, it’s an awkward topic. Perhaps it’s because most of
us don’t spend much time contemplating the soul. And why would we?
We already have more distraction in our lives than we can shake a stick
at (which would only serve to add yet another diversion, that of stick
shaking).
What Porter’s opening does, however, is beg the question: is the soul
really dead? And it’s not just Porter who has made note of this. It is by
no means a new sentiment. But if it is true, if we live in a society that has
lost its belief in the human soul, it changes everything, both for the living
and the dying.
So, in an attempt to sort this one out, let’s look at a brief history
of the soul. To avoid this becoming too academic (as if that were even
a remote possibility given the nonacademic proclivities of your two
esteemed authors!) or dry, try thinking of what follows as an adventure
movie through history or one of those Magic School Bus programs that
the kindergarten kiddos seem to enjoy, only with the ghost of Roy Porter
peering over our shoulders. So here goes . . .

THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS AND THE
JOURNEY THROUGH THE HISTORY OF
THE HUMAN SOUL!
THE BEGINNING: Primitive humans are thought to have a tribal
mentality, making authentic individuality impossible. This is because
every aspect of life is seen through the eyes of the community. Magic and
the supernatural apparently played a big part.3

2
3

Yet equally annoying.
Hogan’s wife, who once was a teacher in the public school system, informs us that the
Magic School Bus books are, in fact, popular among the kids but difficult to read in a group
setting. There are apparently small bits of information scatter ed throughout, making the
pages dense and complex. The same may be said here.

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EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .

THE GOLDEN AGE OF GREECE: Individual consciousness
emerges. Ideals of goodness and truth abound in the teachings of Socrates
and other philosophers of the day. Although it sounds good at first, people
start to get their feathers all ruffled because this does not coexist well with
their traditional communalistic thoughts. The advanced and progressive
Athenian government, which was no small influence on our great nation,
executes Socrates by forcing him to drink the poison hemlock.4
In the art world, Sophocles, Euripides, and other guys with last
names ending in “es” wrote long dramas where everybody dies in the
end, usually because the main character had the gall to step out and do
something on his own rather than listen to the gods. These are called
tragedies, not only because every character meets with dismal doom but
also because every high school student in America is forced to read them
and to learn applicable vocabulary such as hubris.5

THE AGE OF FAITH: Christianity begins its spread across the
world. On the one hand, this is a huge advancement for the soul. Life
after death? Sounds good. However, apparently the early Catholic
Church wasn’t so keen on this whole self-exploration thing for the sake of
self-exploration.6 The way they saw it: original sin occurred because of an
individual desire of forbidden knowledge.
It didn’t help that the medieval period was in full swing,7 and along
with it, the whole caste system of master and servant, lord and serf, blah,
blah, blah. The upside of this time period? Sweet architecture and stories
4

Interesting to note, hemlock comes fr om a plant called Cicuta virosa, a per ennial with little
white flowers that cluster in the shape of an umbrella. Inside the stalk and roots of the flower
is a y ellow resin from which the poison is made that is said to smell of parsnips, carr ots, or
mice. The poison affects the central nervous system and causes abdominal pain and v omiting. We would wager that sucking on a mouse would inflict similar symptoms. (Our editor
has informed us that, according to the online Encyclopedia Britannica, “Socrates was killed by
hemlock from Conium maculatum, a biennial. The poison is concentrated in the seeds, though
the entire plant is dangerous to livestock when it’s fresh.” Your authors figure that whether the
poison smells like a mouse or kills cattle, putting it in your mouth is a fairly bad idea.)
5 Zinger #1. Could it be the authors’ own hubris that subjects you to such jokes? Only the
gods truly know!
6 Roy Porter, Flesh in the Age of Reason, 4.
7 We realize that we are moving forward rather quickly here, and therefore a lot of detailed
history is falling thr ough the cracks. F or those of y ou who ar e interested, check out The
Story of C ivilization by Will and Ariel D urant. It took them a lifetime to write, is o ver
10,000 pages long, and they died befor e finishing it. n o doubt that it co vers just about
everything.

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history of the soul, part 1
of knights and chivalry. The downside? Modern-day humans will read
The Da Vinci Code and traipse around European churches wearing fanny
packs and ignoring the “n o Pictures, Please” signs.8

THE RENAISSANCE AND THE REFORMATION: At
the same time Columbus was busy discovering the n ew World, the
Renaissance was getting under way in Italy. “Man” (Porter makes a note
here to confirm that man means literate, gifted, elite males, and I am not
one to argue with him) begins to make great strides in self-discovery by
deciding he has had it up to here with the Church, conformity, and the
customs of his forefathers. In modern times, this would be the equivalent
of your older sister going off to her first year of college and coming home
over Christmas break for the first time with dyed hair, a nose ring, a book
on Buddhism, and some newfound contempt for the way she was raised.
During this time, humans put themselves on a pedestal as the
pinnacle of creation and masters of the world. n ew forms of self-centered
art like the self-portrait and the autobiography emerge.9
Meanwhile, Martin Luther was busy with the Reformation. Rather
than killing the soul off, the reformers were busy adapting the soul
for the newly shaped world of personal self-expression by suggesting
that salvation came from a personal journey and faith. Cessation or
adaptation. The soul was torn in two directions, which must have hurt.

8
9

Zinger #2. We are on a roll here!
And bands named after their lead singers . . . zinger #3!

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Im ConverSAtIon
1
Bb

hey i’ve got an idea! :DAVID
HOGAN: OK
ok, so we have the soul stuff and the
bluegrass stuff, right? :DAVID
HOGAN: Yeah
and we’ll have the columns :DAVID
HOGAN: Yeah
well we could include an instant
message exchange :DAVID
HOGAN: What do you mean?
we could put stuff like this exchange in. you know
just put this stuff before the columns :DAVID
HOGAN: What stuff
stuff we’ll write. :DAVID
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im, part 1
HOGAN: What would be the point?
to discuss stuff. you know put some pieces
together. :DAVID
HOGAN: It doesn’t seem like including this
exchange would be putting anything together
yeah it would. we would have just told the reader
that we’re including instant message exchanges.
:DAVID
HOGAN: The reader would know that already
what? :DAVID
HOGAN: If you’re reading an instant message,
you don’t need to be told you’re reading an
instant message exchange.
yeah you do. :DAVID
HOGAN: No you don’t. It’s like watching
television and the television says, “you’re
watching television.”
no, it’s like watching television and it says,
“you’re reading a book.” :DAVID
HOGAN: What?
and then we could explain that at times the real
thoughts of you or me could break in. :DAVID
HOGAN: What do you mean by real thoughts?
you know, what we’re really thinking. :DAVID
HOGAN: So far I have typed everything that I am
really thinking.
This is a ridiculous idea. But if I disagree he’ll
probably just write the book by himself.
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EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .
no. you know how there is always a given amount
of posturing in any exchange of language :DAVID
always trying to present your best self, even
when you’re supposedly being vulnerable :DAVID
being vulnerable just to look good. :DAVID
HOGAN: No, I think it’s a great idea.
but in instant messaging you don’t have as
much time to put your best foot forward. you
know you say things you regret. :DAVID
HOGAN: Yeah, like earlier when I was acting
like this might not be such a great idea.
I think it’s a great idea.
It’s really a pretty pathetically obvious literary
device. So I guess “instant message” could be the
new “letter of correspondence.” I’d like to know
the number of books that have supposed “letters”
in them. An author wants to write in first person,
draw the reader in, so . . . here comes a letter.
it would be sort of like using a letter. :DAVID
HOGAN: I love it when there are letters in a
book. A really clever literary device, the letter.
yeah! yeah! I LOVE LETTERS!!! :DAVID
HOGAN: Yeah, me too.
but then you know if we let ourselves write what
we’re really thinking in bold or something :DAVID
you know and italicize it :DAVID
or something so the reader knows it’s not part of
the instant message exchange. :DAVID
HOGAN: Yeah, that’s a really good idea.
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im, part 1
Nice suggestion.
i’m really excited about this. :DAVID
HOGAN: So should we say anything about the
first chapters then?
what do you mean? :DAVID
HOGAN: Well you suggested that the
exchange serve as a means to discuss the
previous content?
yeah, but i think if we explain that we’re doing this
instant message thing we’ll have done enough.
no need to be overly ambitious :DAVID
HOGAN: Well I think we’re safe then
what do you mean? :DAVID
HOGAN: I don’t think we’ve been
too ambitious here
we don’t have to do this if
you don’t want to :DAVID
HOGAN: No. I think it’s a great idea
Please tell me there’s not going to be a
letter in here somewhere.
ok :DAVID

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History
of

bluegrass

Pa r t 1
Part

0310291917_everybody_hvn_hc.indd 32

9/8/09 7:28 AM

An Introduction
to
Bluegrass
or
The Perils and tt
trials
rials of tt
transatlantic
ransatlantic Voyages

Bb

To arrive at the source of this music with any amount of precision, we
must go through Scotland, where the seeds of bluegrass were sown.
“Oh God, please help me! Someone help me!” He was turned
sideways in his seat, eyes wide, nose crinkled up in a ball of wrinkles
and nostrils, with a mouth performing the impossible feat of frowning,
grinning, and gaping open in slack-jawed astonishment all at once.
“Seriously, what is that? Can you smell this woman next to me?”
The woman in question was a large, spherical lady of undetermined
age and ethnicity that was wedged in the neighboring seat on an
overcrowded plane flight over international waters. Their friend Jeremy’s
voice was the one heard pleading through the din of boarding passengers
in gag-whispered, scarcely discernible utterances for intervention. If
invited to wager a guess, they would have put forward she was German.
They have known a good number of Germans, all of whom seemed wellgroomed, free of offensive odors, and very good at math for some reason.
Yet not only was the woman in question the antithesis of well-groomed,
but there was serious doubt as to whether she could crunch differential
equations or explain the complexities of “nozzles,” which one of Hogan’s
old roommates (engineering major) happily did at all hours of the day. He
might have been German.
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EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .
The matter simplified itself a little when, shortly after the thickening
ether around them had been duly noted, the round woman grunted,
shifted subtly in her seat, and, as if by magic, pulled from thin air and
opened a plastic container containing . . . brown. Who knows what this
“food” stuff was? But the best description was: brown. The air blossomed
with a whole new catalog of odors. At that exact moment it became clear
that she was in no way German. n o, what they were dealing with was
distinctly Eastern European.
And the flight to London had barely even gotten under way.
The aforementioned, while true, has absolutely no real bearing on the
story. To be honest, it happened two years prior to this story’s beginning.
But there are two reasons it is mentioned here. The first is that the
woman portrayed above did indeed smell awful, and she did indeed
indulge in an enigmatic cuisine off and on over the course of eight hours
that made her row-mates long to swallow their own tongues. Such a
woman deserves to be honored in print. The second reason is to illustrate
the all-too-real perils of international travel that persist, even to this day.
If you’re lucky, you’re the type of person who can step foot on a plane,
fall asleep, and have no recollection of the suffering taking place around
you. The authors, however, are not lucky, nor do we have the foresight or
fortitude for prescription pills thrown back with mini adult beverages and
are therefore forever doomed to suffer in uncomfortable seats, eyes peeled
open, lower backs screeching in pain, and nostrils flaring. For us, a recent
plane ride from Dallas to Great Britain seemed to take about twice as
long as way too long.
You can imagine our enthusiasm for a whirlwind three-day trip
to Scotland, knowing the following was in store: Get on a plane. Get
off a plane in a foreign land. Attempt to sleep a few hours. Play music.
Attempt to sleep a few more hours. Get back on a plane. Get off a plane.
Go home.
n ow, don’t think there wasn’t excitement at having the opportunity
to play a show in Scotland, because there was. Hogan had been to
Scotland once before on a family vacation when he was about ten. His
memories include a cluster of fluffy sheep, Jefferson Starship blaring from
a pub’s jukebox, and very, very cold water in Loch n ess. He was therefore
surprised to find that on our descent into Edinburgh, it looked nothing
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history of bluegrass, part 1
at all like a foreign land. In fact, it looked downright ordinary. It could
have just as easily been n orth Carolina. n othing against n orth Carolina,
mind you; it’s quite a lovely state, and they make a great peanut brittle.
Or is that n orth Dakota? Or Kentucky? It’s Kentucky.1
Maybe if there had been tiny sheep dotting the landscape like cotton
balls. Maybe if his in-flight iPod playlists had included Jefferson Starship.
Maybe if n essy herself had met him on the tarmac with a bag of golf
clubs in one flipper and haggis in the other, perhaps then Hogan would
have recalled the childlike wonder of his ten-year-old self. As it was,
Hogan and his bandmates hadn’t slept in twenty-four hours and they
appeared to have arrived in n orth Carolina.
Things began to look up when their ride arrived.
Enter Justin Dowd, a large, full-bodied Scotsman whose accent
sounded remarkably like a mix between Mike Myers’ father in So I
Married an Axe Murderer 2 and Groundskeeper Willy from The Simpsons.3
His job, at least at the moment, was to take the band and their gear to
the hotel where they could slumber away their transatlantic hangover. He
did his job capably, with enthusiasm and then some. Along the way he
treated them to a discussion on the rising property values of the Scottish
countryside, why small British cars are the way to go, and why most Scots
have a vendetta against Mel Gibson.4
When you meet a guy like this, you can’t help but ask a batch of
pointless questions, like, “What do you guys think of the Irish?” Frankly,
it is difficult to say who asked him this or why, but it seemed important
at the time. He delivered his retort straightaway with great passion: “Oh,
we love the Irish. Celtic brothers, ya know!”

1

2
3
4

Kentucky also produces the fine beverage Ale-8-One, which tastes like an alternativ e version of ginger ale. The logo (ALE81) is simple and appealing and has appeared in grocery
stores acr oss the B luegrass S tate as w ell as on a T-shirt worn b y the main character in
Cameron Crowe’s film Elizabethtown, which is incidentally sort of about death. Weird how
that all fits together, isn’t it? Oh wait, you don’t know yet. Sorry.
Look at the size of that kid’s head . . . it’s like an orange on a toothpick!”
Arrrgh, that’s ma retirement grease!”
Here is his v ersion of the tale: “ A fe w y ears ago a monument of William Wallace was
erected in the town, which just so happens to look exactly like M el Gibson! People come
from all o ver the world to see one of our national tr easures, one of the gr eatest Scots in
history, and what do they get? An Australian in a kilt! Bah!”

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EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .
Errr, well, no. But the authors took his word for it. He was so
passionate we had no choice. This is a Scottish quality. Even when you
can’t make out a word, you find yourself nodding in agreement. For
example: “Eh, would ya enjoy a bite o’ this baked sheep’s stomach filled
with its own intestines and heart? It’s a delicacy!” Response: “Yeah, sure,
sounds amazing! I have absolutely no idea what you just said!” Fork to
mouth.
The Scots and the Irish have a long and storied history. On many
occasions the two have come together over a mutual loathing of the
English and their monarchy. It’s a history that involves fighting, farming,
dancing, oceanic travel, persecution, hardship, and the creation of what
would become one of America’s most influential and unique art forms:
bluegrass.5

5

If you were wondering when we would get into the whole bluegrass side of things, there it
was. And who knew it could all be traced back to the Scots? (Answ er: Fairly obvious that
we, the authors, did.)

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Im Conversation
1.1
Bb

HOGAN: So what should we say about
the columns?
what would you say? :DAVID
HOGAN: I don’t know.
no. this is great. i don’t think we need
anything about the columns. :DAVID
When I think about the columns I feel a weight.
HOGAN: I hear music when I think
about the columns
really!? :DAVID
HOGAN: I don’t know, it’s weird. Every time I
think about the columns, I hear a cello.
that’s really weird :DAVID
HOGAN: I know.

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EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .
HOGAN: I wish we could write musical notes into
the pages that would play what I’m hearing for
the reader while they were reading it.
maybe we could. it could be like
watermarking. you know in the page, but not
visible. i’ve already asked if we can get that
special icelandic paper. :DAVID
HOGAN: What did they say?
they said it would be tough and would depend
on the number of illustrations. for pricing and
such :DAVID
HOGAN: We need that Icelandic paper man!
i know. you can feel the
weeping under your fingers :DAVID
HOGAN: Let’s use it only in the
column sections
yeah! hooray for icelandic paper! weeping
and music while you read . . . :DAVID
I hear cello too.

...

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0310291917_everybody_hvn_hc.indd 39

Columns Part I

“I CAN’T FIND A PEN.”

“Why is she looking in the
silverware drawer?”
Sarah whispered this across the
table to her friend Daniel, who was
sitting with his arms folded. He
was smiling. This was obviously
funny to him.

ONCE, LONG AGO,
there was a small boy named
Steven.
In those days, Steven was not
such a common name. In fact, so
far as forenames were concerned,
he was the first.
n o, up to this point there had
never been another him; he was
something the n ew World had
never seen.
n ow, there are lots of Stevens.
You probably know one even.

columns, part 1

She said this while opening
and closing the drawer beside
the sink, the one that held the
forks and knives and other shiny
instruments.

HE OPENED HIS EYES. THE
su n w a s b r i g ht t h rou g h
the c urtains. T hey w eren’t
curtains re ally. J ust l ong c lear
pieces o f p lastic h anging f rom
the n ails h e h ad h ammered i n a
perfectly st raight l ine a bove t he
3 w indows o f t he b edroom. T he
nails were s paced e xactly 3 inches
apart. O ne w indow f aced e ast.
Two w ere si de b y si de f acing t he
south. T he e astern w indow was
the largest: 7 f eet tall, 7 f eet wide.
That m eant t here w ere e xactly
29 n ails a bove i t. T he s outhern
windows w ere e ach 7 f eet t all.

39

9/8/09 7:28 AM

40
Daniel certainly thought it
humorous that his grandmother
was saying pen while referring
to a fork. Finding it amusing
helped. He could choose humor
or sadness when the confusion
came, but the two were getting
harder to tell apart.
“They’re in the dishwasher,
Grandma.”
“What?”
“I said, ‘They’re in the
dishwasher!’ We’re out of forks!
You’ll have to get one out and
wash it in the sink.”
She scowled in their direction.

4 f eet w ide. T hat m eant 1 7
nails a bove e ach o f t hem. T he
foot o f h is b ed w as c losest t o
the e astern w indow. T he l ight
coming t hrough i t w as j ust n ow
touching t he t ops o f b oth o f h is
feet, w hich m eant t he d ay c ould
begin. T he r adiance o n h is f eet i s
what w oke h im e ach m orning.
When it was overcast, he would not
wake. O nce i t r ained f or 14 d ays
straight. That was the last time he
could re member h is f eet h aving
had t he t ime t o h eal. T hrough
the p lastic h e c ould f eel t he h eat
of t he l ight. S oothing w hat i t
touched. T hat’s w hy t he c urtains
were c lear. T o l et t he l ight i n.
He t ook a d eep b reath. H e h eld
it f or 4 s econds. H e r eached o ver
and t ouched t he n ightstand 4
times. H e l oved t his p art o f t he

But this particular boy was the
beginning.
n o past.
Only future.
Steven’s favorite color was
gray, but to be fair, it should be
pointed out that it was the only
color the little boy could see. It
came, of course, in all shades, but
it was still gray nonetheless —
light gray skies with dark gray
clouds and a lighter gray sun. If
you were to ask him, “Steven,
what is your favorite color?” he
would most assuredly answer,
“Gray. Gray is my favorite!” He
knew no better.
He had the bluest of eyes; he

EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .

0310291917_everybody_hvn_hc.indd 40

“She means to say fork.”

9/8/09 7:28 AM

0310291917_everybody_hvn_hc.indd 41

She could tell Daniel thought
this was hilarious, despite his
trying to hide it.

“You can’t be serious?” Sarah
whispered.
“Yeah. It’s weird. There’s a
medical word for it, but I can’t
remember it.”

41

9/8/09 7:28 AM

The word he could not locate
was aphasia.
“So, like, how many words are
messed up?”

would, of course, describe them
as light gray.
People would tell him, “Little
boy, there is no gray; there is
only black and white.”
“I don’t think it’s that simple,”
he would quickly respond, for he
knew — obviously — that the
black necessitated the complete
absence of light and the light —
obviously — was everywhere . . .
that is, if you looked hard
enough.
The little boy Steven had the
same dream every night. He
would fall asleep and dream
he was awakened, right as the
dawn was breaking. He would
be falling through the light

columns, part 1

The stroke had rearranged her
memory. The places she had
formerly stored words and their
respected meanings had been
reordered in a way dissimilar to
what had existed previously.

day. W hen h e w as aw ake. B ut h is
feet w eren’t ye t o n t he g round.
He s wung t hem o ver t o h is r ight
until t hey w ere h anging off t he
southern si de o f t he b ed. H e l et
them f all s lowly t oward t he f loor.
The bottoms of them came to rest
against the fresh white towel he had
spread o ut t he n ight b efore. A nd
which w ould n ow b e s tained re d.
His j aw m uscles t ightened. H e
never g ot u sed t o t his m oment o f
pain. D eciding t o p ut h is f eet o n
the g round. T he t hought c rossed
his m ind t hat i t h urt a s b ad
now a s i t d id i n t he b eginning.
He s miled. T he l ook o n h is f ace
was t hat o f c omplete a nd u tter
satisfaction. A t ear f ell d own h is
left c heek. H e c lapped h is h ands
4 t imes a nd s tood u p. H e f elt h is
perpendicular w eight s ettle i nto

42
“That’s just crazy!”
“n o, it’s for real. It’s like a
system of filing drawers or
something. It’s as if you put a
word away, stuck it in a drawer
so you’d know right where it
was when you needed it, but
then, while you weren’t looking,
someone came and moved the
drawers around. They look like
the same drawers, but the one
that was on the top is now on
the bottom. So if you wanted
that particular item that you
had stuck in the top drawer,

the towel as it soaked up the f luids
that h ad g athered o vernight. H e
looked at h is h ands. S till stinging
from t he 4 q uick c laps. H e s hook
them. H e p ulled op en t he t op
drawer o f t he n ightstand. I t w as
full o f t hin c ellophane p ackages
of s tark w hite g loves. S tacked
7 d eep. I n 3 r ows. H e t ouched
the t op o f e ach s tack 1 t ime. H e
picked u p t he t op p lastic p ackage
on t he r ight. H e b roke t he s eal.
He p ulled t he w hite g loves o ut
and l aid t hem d own si de b y si de
on t he n ightstand. H e t enderly
stepped o n t he si lver p edal o f
the si lver c an t hat s at n ext t o t he
nightstand a nd t ossed t he e mpty
cellophane i n. H e w atched a s i t
f loated d own t o re st o n t op o f
the o thers. H e l oved t his s ound.
Of c ellophane l anding. C rinkling

gray sky, through darker gray
clouds, toward the even darker
gray ground. He could see the
light gray faces of thousands of
people staring up at him. And
as he fell farther and farther, as
they screamed closer and closer,
as soon as he could see into the
deep blacks of their pupils, a
thought would blister into his
little boy mind:
“They were wrong. There is no
black and white . . . There is only
black.”
Then one night, immediately
following this thought, there
was a flash as the world burst
alive into vivid color. For an
instant his insides filled with
dark reds. Brilliant oranges.

EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .

0310291917_everybody_hvn_hc.indd 42

“I don’t know; it keeps
changing. And there’s getting to
be more and more. It’s hard to
keep up.”

9/8/09 7:28 AM

0310291917_everybody_hvn_hc.indd 43

“n o! n ot a bit. That is so weird!”
Daniel watched as his
grandmother leaned over the
dishwasher; it was gaping open
like a mouth in awe at her.

43

9/8/09 7:28 AM

She used to be brilliant. Taught
advanced microeconomic theory
in the city, a tenured professor at
n YU’s Stern School of Business,

softly. The s ilver c an was g etting
full. M ary w ould h ave t o e mpty
it s oon. H e l et t he l id f all c losed.
He s tared at t he t wo w hite g loves
sitting o n t he n ightstand. H e
reached d own. P icked u p t he o ne
on t he r ight. H is j aw c lenched.
Carefully h e s lid i t o n. H e t ook
the o ther g love a nd s lid i t o n.
He c lapped 4 t imes, then b egan
to d isrobe. F olding h is p revious
night’s c lothes. C reasing t hem
neatly b efore placing t hem on top
of t he l inen-less b ed. M ary, t he
house’s k eeper, w ould l ater c ome
take t hese i tems. T hey w ould b e
washed a nd re ady a gain b y d ay’s
end. H e w alked t o t he c loset
wearing o nly w hite g loves. H e
opened i t. T here w ere 4 h angers:
On e ach h ung t he v estments o f
his p rofession. I ntricate i n t heir

Glowing greens. Color. It was
everywhere. But it was too late.
He fractured there over the city,
splitting apart, draping his gray
over everything. Gray upon gray
upon gray. The light went out as
he thought to himself, “We shall
finally perish here together in the
black.”
From that night on, every time
he dreamt, he would get a
glimpse of a world different than
the one he took in during his
waking hours. The limits of his
waking senses were becoming a
weight.
Then one night, he fell into sleep
and refused to wake up.
And that’s how the rest of the

columns, part 1

you’d go right to the place you
knew you’d put it and you’d open
the drawer, but there’d
be something else in it. You’re
sure you’re at the right place,
but you also suspect you’ve got
the wrong thing. But you keep
closing and opening that same
drawer because that’s where it’s
supposed to be. Make sense?”

44
“I’m going to university. You kids
behave.”
Her mouth sort of melted away
on the left side. About a quarter
of an inch before the upper lip
met the bottom lip, it just fell
limp at the corner — one corner
animated, projecting a smile
that you literally felt, the other
corner dead, immobile. Sarah
was staring at the deadened,
half-frown section a bit too
intently and became conscious
of her rudeness just as Daniel’s
grandmother’s mouth opened,
and the pen/fork disappeared
into it with some white food
substance.

heaviness. U nderstatedly o rnate.
n o s ubtlety i n w hat t he ro bes
conveyed. H e b egan t he s low
ritual of donning t he heavy c loth.
We a re n ot a llowed t o d escribe
the f ormal p rocedures h ere o nly
to say t here is more to it t han just
putting o n a r obe. I n e verything
there i s m eaning. T hat i s w orth
noting. H e w alked t o t he d oor.
There w ere t wo j ars. O ne f ull
of p ebbles. O ne f ull o f n ettles o f
the c ommon c ocklebur v ariety.
He t ook 4 p ebbles f rom t he j ar
of p ebbles. A nd d ropped t hem
into the shoe on t he right. He d id
the s ame f or t he s hoe o n t he l eft.
He s tepped i nto t hem. H e t ook
4 n ettles f rom t he n ettle j ar. A nd
dropped t hem d own t he g love
on h is r ight h and. H e f licked
and jolted u ntil a ll 4 c ame to r est

world formally turned gray.
But there were more Stevens
coming, more who would dream
the same dream. But as the
world of gray aged, the dreams
of the Stevens grew further and
further apart.
Until one day, they stopped.
Then, on June 10, 1972, a little
boy by the name of Steven was
born in a tiny town, in the middle
of the tall trees of eastern Texas.
The first thing he did when he
got there was cry. This would not
have been a problem and seemed
quite an un-extraordinary thing
at the time — seeing as this is how
we all come here — (which should
maybe tell us something about

EVERYBODY WAn TS TO GO TO HEAVEn . . .

0310291917_everybody_hvn_hc.indd 44

was published, had retired only a
few years ago.

9/8/09 7:28 AM

0310291917_everybody_hvn_hc.indd 45

“She means bed.”
“What?”
“She said university, but she
meant bed.”

against h is p alm i nside t he g love.
He t hen d id t he s ame for t he left.
He c lapped 4 t imes. A nd w alked
out. Into the daylight.

what we’re in for), but when this
particular Steven cried, birds fell
from the sky.
When little Steven’s cheeks
were wet with tears, the ground
echoed with the thuds of falling
dead birds.
columns, part 1

For each tear a bird.

45

9/8/09 7:28 AM

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