Tag Archives: heaven

“Bowling in Heaven” (memorate)

by Grace Robinson

“When I was little, I was really scared of thunder storms and [my] Grandma would always tell me that the sound of the thunder was actually the sound of people bowling in heaven, -and after she told me that story enough I wasn’t scared of them anymore.”

My informant spoke with great passion about this short narrative that was replayed to her many times as a child. She told me her grandmother was very Christian, so she thought that claiming that the loud thunder was actually the result of heaven-dwellers indulging in a carefree recreation, would ease by fear. Her grandmother was ultimately right, as the reminder soothed her anxieties over thunder storms, having grown up in such a religious household, the familiarity to religion from the group she was raised with aided her, even though she doesn’t claim to be especially religious herself.

I also find it interesting that while I would still classify this short narrative as a memorate, since it pertains to a personal experience, it also shares many traits with that of ‘myths’. It is essentially a kind of creation story for a universal truth, seeing as folk everywhere hear thunder. It’s a sacred narrative about how something came to be (the thunder deriving from something holy), and it doesn’t take place in the real world (i.e. Heaven). So while I wouldn’t quite classify this piece as a myth, due to what I believe to be a small reach, it definitely seems to share its qualities.

Namaz E Janaza

My informant is Pakistani and has lived in many countries worldwide, yet has deep knowledge of his culture and is very associated with certain events and occasions that occur in Pakistan.

Funeral Ritual:

This prayer, typically known as “Namaz E Janaza” is a common type of prayer “performed at funerals”. It is a ritual that has “existed in Islam for a very long time” and is “very important to our religion and culture.” The ritual is illustrated by a “group of people that are praying as the body is put in front of them” He states that it is because “everyone is praying towards god when the body is also there” conveying the influences of religion on their life. The informant also states that it is “the same Islamic prayer from the Qur’an that people read.” It is a widely known tradition in South Asia, specifically Pakistani culture when it comes to funeral rituals and events that must take place in order to properly bury a body.


The ritual is “always performed by men in a room separate to the women,” and the informant continues to assert that “they cannot be together and a woman cannot speak the prayer to the body” highlighting the strict nature of this ritual and the specific cultural customs on death and funerals. It is usually done in Pakistan but also occurs in other Muslim countries that still honour this method of performing the funeral ritual. It is a very important aspect of how the body is sent to heaven and is a pivotal step in “family healing using religion and ensuring they continue in heaven”


The religious aspect of funerals is very common in many cultures, however, in Islamic culture, the split of the men and women into separate rooms signifies the power that the prayer holds as it is part of their tradition. Death and prayer being portrayed in a ritual allow families to use the religious scripture provided to them as a mode of grieving their loved ones in a structural manner, making it easier on the family that is closer to them. Although, the formality of the occasion eliminates personalisation of the funeral and family members when burying and honouring the dead as they must follow the known written words instead of making them uniquely theirs, which is seen in other cultures. However, it is a religious and important part of their cultural identity, therefore, the prayer does not solely mark the death of an individual but paves a path to their god that they are praying to, following the practices of their culture and tradition as it is passed down.

Ducks and Heaven


A man and his friend die and go to heaven. When they go to the holy gates, they are told they can do whatever they please, but to not step on any of the ducks. Upon entering heaven, they are greeted by the sight of several ducks and almost immediately, the mans friend steps on one. As a consequence of this, an angel comes with one of the ugliest women the two friends have ever seen and handcuffs her to the man who stepped on the ducks.

Some time passes by and the man does whatever he pleases, being sure to avoid stepping on the ducks now considering what happened to his friend. Then suddenly, the man is approached by an angel who is with the most beautiful women he has ever seen and the angel handcuffs her to him. He asks, “what did I do to be handcuffed next to you” ? She replies, “I don’t know what you did, but I stepped on the ducks”…

Relationship to Subject:

The subject said they learned this story from their ex partner and claimed that this was the first story type joke they heard so they still remember it. It was told in the format of a story. The subject enjoyed the joke because of the shock factor it envoked and I had a similar appreciation for the fact that the ending was not expected.


The joke was enjoyable because of the shocking ending as well as the fact that it seems to equalize both sexes. One group begins judging, but that same group ends the story being judged, meaning there is a little bit for everybody.

Pennies from Heaven

Context: Pennies are a form of American currency equaling 1 cent. Their low value makes them adaptable since people are generally not worried about conserving them. because of this, pennies have also become a common object of folklore-ish discussion.

Background Information: Informant’s grandmother died young, and the informant’s mother and father died when informant was in their twenties. Informant and Informants family are/were Christian and very relationally close to one another. The loss of their family has been very difficult for informant.

Informant: “My mother used to tell me that when my grandmother- her mother- died, that she would send pennies to her as kisses from heaven. Whenever we saw a penny on the side of the street, she would tell me grandma had sent it. When my own mom died, I went to the funeral, and I had paid a parking meter. When I came back to my car, the meter had broken and all these pennies littered the ground. I just bawled and bawled and bawled. Completely broke down crying.”

Thoughts: The presence of pennies is common folklore, and is often perceived as a sign of some sort when found accidentally. Whether or not the parking meter was a coincidence or not, the folklore surrounding the penny stands firm. The penny in this situation connects a member of a family group to the other members, even after death. The folklore is a unifying front, which unifies the member of this group and gives credence to the belief that the members of the group will continue to embody their group identity even after death.

Bill Clinton and the Pope Joke

Context: The informant was in the midst of telling his favorite jokes at a party

Piece: “Okay… so… by chance Bill Clinton and the Pope die on the same day, and due to some clerical screw up, Bill Clinton is sent to Heaven and the Pope is sent to Hell. And the Pope’s like nah this ain’t right. So he goes to the… uh… the administration folk and goes and says look I’m the Pope I shouldn’t be here and they’re like oh… we must’ve made a mistake we’ll get that fixed, it’ll take us a day— we’ll get it fixed. So, the next day.. uh the old Pope is walking up the uh pearly white steps and Bill Clinton is walking down and uh they stop, they shake hands, they say hello and uh Clinton says, ‘So, uh father what are you looking forward to most in heaven?’ and the Pope says, ‘Uh, I don’t know, I guess one thing I’ve always wanted to do is meet the Virgin Mary.’ Clinton says, ‘Ah, missed her by a day.”

Background: The informant, a 20 year old student at Harvard, found this joke on Reddit and believes this is one of his best jokes. He enjoys telling jokes to his friends and family.

Analysis:This joke is compelling and intriguing because it combines two radically different public figures in an absurd scenario. The joke plays on Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, insinuating that he has sex with everyone and would even have sex with the Virgin Mary. This piece reflects how American culture views Bill Clinton as untrustworthy and has sex with all women. By putting religion, and such a holy figure in Christianity as the Virgin Mary, this joke further pokes at how Bill Clinton lacks boundaries and respect. The audience recognizes that Clinton has conducted this behavior before and it is ironic that he would do it again, especially in Heaven, where non-sinners (unlike Clinton) would go.