The Vision of Ease in Technology and in Christianity
Who in their right mind wouldn’t want an easier life? This question seems to implicitly motivate much of the advancement of the tech industry. Self-cleaning dishes. Self-driving cars. Self-repairing bodies. The vision of a robotic servant who does my cooking, cleaning, and shopping, and perhaps cares for my children as well. The promise in each of these is the promise of a life of ease and pleasure. I can sit back, drink milkshakes and play videogames all day, and everything will just take care of itself. If this description sounds familiar, it’s because my illustration of the easy life is, in fact, drawn from the second-to-last episode of The Good Place in which we discover that heaven is an eternity of milkshakes and videogames, or more properly, an eternity of having your every wish immediately granted. However, this vision of ease is also drawn from the Christian tradition.
According to the Pew Research Forum, over 80% of American Christians believe in a heaven defined as “a place ‘where people who led good lives are eternally rewarded.’” The American imagination commonly associates reward, pleasure, and ease, and thus commonly imagines the heaven of eternal reward as a place of eternal ease in which good people have their wishes fulfilled. In this vision, the good life is a life in which my desires are granted with little or no effort on my part. Everything is done for me and my life is easy. The assumption in this vision is that easy equals good. However, Christian theologians rarely endorse this common vision of heaven.