Calm, Cool and Committed

Three Moms and a Dude

Is there a hell? (Group Response)

on October 1, 2012

If there is a hell, this guy is the cafeteria lady.

Each of us answered the question in the title.  Our responses are below.    We did not read each others’ responses or discuss them before posting.  Enjoy, and please leave comments for us.

Mamma Fratelli

Heaven for climate, Hell for company. ~Mark Twain

If only the good die young, that leaves the rest of us much more time to ponder our fates.  Where are we going after this life? As if what to make for dinner, what to be when we grow up and where to retire aren’t hard enough to plan, our religious leaders want us to make travel arrangements for our next trip before this one is even over.   Of course, if you asked most people where they’d rather spend all of eternity, they’ll choose Heaven 99.99% of the time.  As Warrant would have you believe, Heaven isn’t too far away. But, what if we take a wrong turn? Where will we end up? Honestly, I don’t know.  I’d be happy to ponder aloud with you, but I don’t have any intelligent, well-researched answers.  I just hope that The Bastard Fairies are wrong.

I choose to believe in the paternal image of G~d.  I believe that He teaches us through our experiences and is there to catch us – all of us – when we fall.  Let’s stretch the analogy.  If you are a parent, is there anything your child could do that would make you want them to feel pain and punishment  for all eternity? Heck, most of us are more upset than our kids when they’re being disciplined. Doodle Bug misbehaved once after Bug and I made the mistake of threatening not to let him go to the car show with Daddy if he didn’t follow the rules.  Well, he didn’t and my husband was the one who looked like he might cry.  Doodle wasn’t nearly as upset because he didn’t know what a car show was and had no idea what awesomeness he was going to miss. Is that how G~d feels when we sin? Is He bummed for us because He knows how great Heaven is? Is that why He gives us so many chances to make things right? Or, is He bluffing? Maybe there is nothing on the other side of The River Styx but more land. Well, I don’t think He is bluffing. I think we are. I believe that Hell was thought up by Man so we could control each other. “Behave or I’ll throw you in jail? Not scared of jail? Well…well…how about being burned alive? No? How about being burned alive FOREVER?! Aha. I knew you’d see it my way!”  I think G~d created an amazing existence for us here. I’m not sure whether or not there are any bonus features on this DVD but I really don’t think any creator could stomach torturing his children forever. Perhaps Heaven and Hell are psychological places that we send ourselves. Does that mean that unremorseful criminals never really get punished? That doesn’t seem fair! To us. G~d obviously isn’t human so we cannot ascribe human traits and thought processes to Him.  So…I may have just debunked my own argument.  I’ll tell you what, let’s make a pact.  Let’s both be the best persons we know how to be and then whichever finds out where that takes us first will make sure he lets the other know. Deal?

Mea

My hell would be losing my husband or children to death or even being separated from them. Just the thought instantly causes panic and emotion to well up inside me. I’d rather be in hell with my family, than in heaven or here on earth without them, quite frankly.  But really, I am just trying to avoid answering the question (Is there a hell?), mostly because I hate talking about religion as much as I hate talking about politics. Honestly, I don’t see the point. None of us can prove whether there is a heaven or a hell, so why do we chastise each other trying to do it? To me, debating religion doesn’t accomplish anything. Instead, it creates unforgivable division.

Having said that, I was raised in a Fundamentalist Christian home, church and school. Honestly, my best childhood memories come from this period in my life. I loved and still miss the feeling of having one, big, extended family along with the never-ending list of activities and fellowship. What I don’t miss are some of the irrational rules and the infectious judgmental attitudes (Unless you believe and do exactly as we say, you are going to burn for eternity!). When my parents chose to enroll us in public school to save money, not only were we told horrible things (like all of the students had drugs and guns and would threaten to kill us), but my parents were also treated like social pariahs. People my parents considered to be their closest friends for decades turned on them in an instant and began chastising them for their choice. Eventually, we left the church as well. Experiencing something like this shakes a person’s core beliefs and causes a lot of pain and doubt. What I don’t doubt, however, is that there is a Creator and that someday, we will all be judged by the life we lead here on earth. I don’t believe, however, that there is that much division between most religions. We argue about how to get to heaven, how to worship, what music to listen to, who gets to go to paradise and who is going to burn. But really, our core beliefs are amazingly similar. The biggest difference between most religions is simply the cultural perspective from which our foundational documents originate. These documents, although influenced by divine inspiration, were written and translated by humans…who are by nature – flawed. So, is there a hell? I guess we won’t really know until we die.

Molar Mother

Growing up I never questioned the existence of Hell.  Then, a year ago the idea of there NOT being a hell presented itself to me.

I have friend, Faith, who is well-connected to her church (I won’t tell you the denomination because I don’t think her beliefs are in line with her church’s teachings).  Faith, told me she didn’t believe in Hell.  Here is her reasoning.  Imagine you’re a parent.  Your child does something wrong – from forgetting to wipe his shoes to killing a man.  Will you condemn that child to eternal damnation?  Faith said she knew, from her experiences as a parent, that she would not.  Because God is our Father, she believed that he would not do that to us, His children.

I know some (like The Dude), might see this as flawed logic, but it makes sense to me.  It made sense before I was a parent, and it makes sense now that I am a parent.

If you support this logic, there’s only one problem.  What happens to the people who are really, really, REALLY bad on Earth?  Like Hitler.  Or pedophiles.  Or Osama bin Laden.  I don’t think any of us relish the idea of kicking it back in paradise with Elizabeth Báthory.

In all honesty, I don’t know if there’s a hell.  I try not to think about it too much.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed about the heaven part, though.

—-

“Do you know where the wicked go after death?”
“They go to hell,” was my ready and orthodox answer.
“And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”
“A pit full of fire.”
“And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?”
“No, sir.”
“What must you do to avoid it?”
I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: “I must keep in good health and not die.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

The Dude

Does Hell exist? I believe it does, but before I explain, I’ll preface with this: I believe that God hates that Hell exists and hates the idea that people go there. I believe that Hell was not part of the original creation. After the sixth day of creation, the Bible says that God saw all that he had made, and that it was good. To me, this means that Hell was not yet in existence. At some point between the sixth day of creation and the fall of Adam and Eve, Satan and his angelic gangsters decided to rebel against God. In response to this rebellion, God created Hell and place Satan and his angels there. Fast forward – Satan tempts Adam and Eve, and man is forever cut off spiritually from God. The Israelites tried to get close to God again, but they messed up too frequently. Other cultures tried, but they worshipped false gods. Things were not looking good for humanity.

Enter Jesus. Here comes a guy who says, it isn’t all about obedience and fear; it’s about faith and trust; it’s about love and forgiveness. Jesus painted a picture, which was very different from what the Jews had been used to. Jesus made things simple: accept me and have community with God, or reject me and have separation from God. This is my stance on Hell. Hell exists, and the way to avoid Hell is paradoxically simple and complex at the same time. Accept Jesus as leader of your life and forgiver of your sins, and Hell isn’t an option for you: you’re going to Heaven. Reject Jesus, and God will honor your choice – separation from him. The Bible says that God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, and I believe that wholeheartedly.

Now before I get railed by people who want to call me a fundamentalist condemner of the world, I’ll explain a few more facets of this argument from my perspective. 1.) I believe people are judged based on their nature or their knowledge. This means that the tribe in Africa who has never heard of Jesus is probably not going to be sent to Hell for not believing in someone of whom they literally have no knowledge. In the tribe’s case, I’m hoping that God judges them based on their nature; that is, how they chose to love and value others and whether or not they seek a higher power. For the person who has heard about Jesus in a way that would make believing in him seem like a positive experience, but who chooses to reject Him, I believe that person will be judged based on their knowledge. 2.) I can’t tell you who is going to Hell and who is not. I could guess, but I don’t know what purpose that would serve towards showing people the love of Jesus. It bothers me when, in the midst of a conversation like this, people say things like, “So all Jews are going to Hell?” I don’t know. I believe that people’s eternal destination is between them and God. 3.) As for the nature of Hell? Hell is punishment, but nowhere in the Bible is Hell described as torture for those who don’t believe. Hell is ontologically exactly what it sounds like: separation from God.

I believe that Hell is real, but more importantly, I believe that Heaven is real too. I believe that having a relationship with Jesus is the way, the one way, to Heaven.

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