Someone once said question everything, and with my ability to see most all possibilities – my blessing and my curse – I do that more often than not. So, when I was told about Hell, its existence, its intention and its imminent threat to me, I was troubled. I went along with the standard rhetoric for sometime, years actually, as I attended churches. But it never sat easy and I became increasingly unhappy with the notion especially when the threat of its existence was used to cajole people into conversion.
Let me state right here that I don’t wish to spend the opportunity of writing to you in exploring theology or unpacking religious texts. People have been doing this for 1000’s of years and not achieved a single definitive answer.
So Hell bothered me.
“Well it should” I hear you say. But, no, it didn’t bother me in that threatening way. Not the; “you’re going to toast forever” sort of way. It bothered me because of the other things I had learnt and sought to turn into experience, such as God’s love and mercy, God’s overwhelming concern for me (and you, come to think about it) didn’t sit comfortably with the notion that God kept a place especially for eternal punishment. Schizophrenia writ large or what? My God, Mr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Indeed the thought that God would want to punish someone forever seemed to have been written by a different author to the one who tells of a god who is love.
That is how my thinking goes when it is running at its simplest. Scary or what?
God loves you and goes on loving you. On and on. After all….God is Love! Its Her nature to do so. God can’t not love you. I say again, God IS Love.
Then, right in the middle of God exposing you to God’s love you crash the car and, BOOM, it’s all over. Now I believe at this point you, as spirit, as a soul (for you are a soul currently having a human experience) go to God, the Great Spirit. You become one. Some would say you enter Heaven, but for me Heaven is existence in the presence go God. And, yes, I know others would say that other things happen (some even say nothing happens – unbelievable) but, hey, this is my letter, my opinions, so suck it up!
However some would say you are judged and you can go to a place of eternal torment where God has ordained the most horrific acts imaginable. That God is Love right until the moment that God is not. I’m also told that God needs to judge me, needs to punish evil. The fact that there is a requirement to do this would lead me to conclude that evil has a power over God, compelling Him to act and this just isn’t so.
You understand my dilemma? Is God compelled to act in contradiction to God’s nature? The more I thought this whole topic through the more it came apart.
So what am I going to do with the concept of Hell? Indeed is there Hell?
Yes I believe there is Hell. As for what I believe it is, let me quote from Pope John Paul II who said:
Eternal damnation is never the initiative of God, it is the self imposed punishment of those who choose to refuse God’s love…From a papal audience in Rome on July 28, 1999 .
Basically we take ourselves to Hell when we take control, when we judge ourselves or receive, and believe, that judgement or treatment handed to us by another. It’s a place that men and women create when they deny God’s love, the acceptance of which can only cause us to live in relationship with others and strive to bring about a world that is all about each and everyones wellbeing.
Now, I have been following a lady who regularly blogs and has recently done a number of posts on the situation in her country. They’re worth taking time to read. They really are. My eyes were opened because these things just don’t appear in our media. Plus she writes with clarity and from the heart.
Everything is relative, OK?
So, with this in mind, it was the reading of her posts that began to cause me to perceive what Hell looks like for me (no doubt, living in her world, it would be something else). Me in my comfortable, law abiding, centrally heated world. The world she described is far removed from what I know, a world where life is cheap and innocence is a vehicle for the gratification of others. Please take a read. This is what the world begins to look like when humans, maybe just a few, chose to deny a higher force, a Great Spirit.
History attests that God need make no effort in the creation of Hell. We are more than capable of bring it about and, in doing so to create it not just for ourselves but others as well. If humanity was made in the likeness of God then inhumanity can only be it’s opposite, the abandoning of the gift of God likeness.
I think hell is something you carry around with you. Not somewhere you go.Neil Gaiman; The Minds Journal
It manifests in many ways and at so many levels. At a personal level, low self esteem, depression, guilt, nagging persistent thoughts and so many other ways. People have long referred to the demons that torment them before we grasped a rudimental understanding of mental health. That’s not to deny the absolute torment some are exposed to. The continuing misery.
All of this when we turn from our natural state of being, both individually and corporately. When we choose to act contrary to our humanity, “choose to refuse God’s love”. Then, much as we can go on deepening and expanding our, and others, misery in the creation of Hell, we can also strive to expand our experience of Heaven in deep more intense, more personal and enlightening ways. For those who choose this path there is the possibility of enlightenment, being at one with Love, Heaven. And I am mindful that, for those who live in a hell not of their own creating, God’s love may seem very far away. I would never seek to make light of another’s situation having not walked in their shoes. But I return to my theme that Hell, despite what others may tell us, is not a place of God’s ordaining.
Do I believe in Hell? Yes, but I believe it is place men and women take themselves, and each other, when they deny the gift of humanity and take on the cloak of inhumanity. I also believe that the Great Spirit never ceases to extend love to us.
Yours, questioning everything, as always,
Love it? Hate it? Just have an opinion or a thought? Please leave a comment to help me understand.
3 thoughts on “Go to Hell”
I read this post last night. But decided to save commenting for this morning, when I am a little more awake. Funny enough, my response is almost the same 😛 😉
Thing is, this is your perception and your opinion – it’s how YOU feel, and I don’t disagree with you entirely. I don’t have a whole lot to offer when it comes to this.. sorry to disappoint. But it led me down another track of thinking : I could imagine someone like my mother reading this and being up in arms, and having a whole lot of negative remarks – ranting till she could no longer breathe.
It made me think of others, in general, who may have similar reactions. And it made me sad.
What I have noticed is that people spend so much time arguing about what is and isn’t ‘correct according to their knowledge of scripture’ that they forget the most important thing of all : love. We’re all so busy criticising each other, and trying to steer people to our path of thinking, that we drive people away instead of building love relationships that can comfort and nurture and build up. We break people down, sending them to an entirely new type of hell, instead of encouraging and loving them. We become stumbling blocks, and all in the name of ”Christianity”.
And when I look at how people treat each other and the atrocities that are a way of life around here – I believe that there certainly is a form of ‘hell on earth’.
I grew up on the teaching of heaven and hell. At age 16, my son approached me, questioning what I believe. It was influenced by his friends – all different religions, and one an atheist. (They’re a bunch of wonderful guys though and have always treated me with respect and kindness and love – in fact, I couldn’t ask for a greater bunch of boys to be friends with my son.)
My son asked me, “But Mom, what if heaven and hell don’t exist?”
My reply to him was this : “What I have been taught about hell? It scares me. The world is bad enough, and to imagine a place exists where there could be even more suffering is frightening. I was also taught about redemption and love. I don’t think I’ll go to hell. And maybe it doesn’t exist. Maybe heaven doesn’t either. Maybe everything I believe isn’t true.
But I have to consider the alternative – what if it all is? Look at us. We’ve had too many very real things happen to save us financially and physically to NOT believe in something.
My boy, it’s a choice. And it’s yours to make for yourself. I’ll love you whatever you choose. But for me? I choose to stick with what I have been taught – although love and life have caused me to make adjustments along the way. My Bible is my guide though, and my perceptions are mine.
And if there IS a hell, there is no way I am spending eternity there. I choose to try and avoid the possibility of that.”
I don’t know if any of what I have said makes any sense… it does to me… but I’m not feeling very eloquent today 😛
And I have to add, just for fun, I smiled at your referral to central heating – it doesn’t quite get cold enough here to warrant it…. but we suffer extreme heat and 100% humidity a lot of the time. 95% of our homes don’t have air conditioning. It’s just not affordable. And in Summer we all wish we could live in the fridge 😛
Our bodies are built for our climate – so winter is ”cold” for us. My children often remind me then that other places in the world have central heating and under floor heating etc. It always makes me laugh! And I tell them, “When we live over there (note the hope on the word when 😛 ) you’ll understand why they HAVE to have it!”
Good morning. Let me start by saying, the central heatings on here as the temperature hoovers about 4 degrees. And I hope your hope is fulfilled and “when” is drawing ever closer.
I can respect your view, mainly because you respect mine. I have come across all sorts of people who are completely blinkered and have no room for any view other than their own. I can’t deal with those people any more and am prone to saying: “Whatever” and walking away. Life’s too short and God is too big to want to get trapped into arguing over interpretations. You want to discuss? I’ll do that all day long, assuming there’s good coffee and an open minded engagement.
I am sure you get it and it shows when you say write: “I’ll love you whatever you choose”. It really is all about love, and if your understanding goes one way and mine another, hey, let’s keep feeling the love anyway. We’ll both get there, I’m sure!
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As per usual, we are in agreement. 😉
It’s all about love…and that covers a multitude of things – kindness, respect, relationship.
These things matter more than who is right. Or wrong.
We’re seeing too much ‘religion’ these days, in everything – the need to be right and people being rejected and neglected because of it.
Heart breaking, it is.
Good coffee and long conversations – you’re speaking my language 🙂