It wasn’t the first time someone told me I was going to hell. But it was certainly the most thorough.
We were sitting around the kitchen table on the last morning of our visit. We had just finished breakfast and would soon be starting the long drive back to Chicago. “Aren’t you worried about what is going to happen to you when you die? And the things you are writing. What is God going to do to you for these things you are writing? You are leading people astray! And your children!” Exasperated grimace. Incredulous head shaking.
I guess if you believe I and my wife and children are going to hell it is commendable to warn me about it and pressure me to choose otherwise.
But I didn’t feel appreciative.
I was actually doing a lot of “on the spot” Spiritual Work. Separating myself from his opinion of me. Allowing him to have his view of reality and me to have my view of reality. Refusing to defend or explain myself because there was no indication of openness.
But I didn’t feel appreciative. And here’s why:
- You think I and my wife and my children are going to hell?
Do you really look at me and my wife and my children and think it is reasonable to state that God will sentence us to Eternal Conscious Torment? I am neither Ghandi nor Ted Bundy. I am in the middle of the pack of people trying to find the truth and trying to do some good and working with what I have to work with. I do not anticipate receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, but neither do I believe I am worthy of Eternal Conscious Torment.
And how about my loving wife and beautiful children? Do you really believe God’s default position toward them is that they are going to hell unless they embrace a specific religious dogma and have enough ‘faith’ in it? The God you believe in would toss my loved ones into an Eternal Lake of Fire? If your God would do that your God is a psychopath. If that is your God how can you claim to have certainty about your life after death? Just in case you need fuel for your neurosis, remember there are countless warnings in the Bible to people who think they are “saved” but they are really on their way to Hell. Do you really have enough ‘saving faith’? How much is enough?
2. Is this about my Eternal Destination or is this about your Fear of Death?
If you go to the typical Evangelical prayer meeting it is primarily about praying not to die.
Aunt Mary has cancer.
Bob is going in for surgery.
Sally is waiting for test results…
Entire Evangelical denominations are built on the idea that God will heal you every time.
Benny Hinn and Robert Tilton made millions off the fear of death.
I am afraid of death. I think most people are. And the older I get the more I think about it.
But repressing my fear of death is not the path to enlightenment. I believe that opening myself up to my fear of death and the reality of death I am also opening myself to the Path of Life.
3. I can’t make myself believe something I don’t believe.
I actually tried that for at least ten years and I was miserable. I didn’t have the benefits of truly believing and I didn’t have the freedom that comes from facing reality and acting accordingly. I don’t believe Joseph Smith was given Golden Plates and I don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. I realize there are many sincere Mormons who believe Mormonism has been of great benefit to them. I realize there are many Evangelical Christians who believe Evangelicalism has been of great benefit to them. But just because they believe it doesn’t mean I am able to believe it. I am open to convincing evidence or a convincing experience, but until my beliefs are changed my beliefs will not change.
4. For you to be “In” I have to be “Out”
In order for religious organizations and religious people to have leverage and certainty they must reduce the world to black and white Binary Reductions. Our Religious Organization is “IN” and therefore all other Religious Organizations are “OUT”.
It is Simple Logic:
Religions are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE!!!!
Is it possible that most Spiritual Paths have much truth in them. Is it possible that we are all partially “IN” and all partially “OUT” of reality?” Is it possible that different people may benefit from different Spiritual Paths? It is possible that you may need to change Spiritual Paths as you grow and expand? Is it possible that God is reaching out to everyone and working with them in their imperfections and within the limitations of the particular Spiritual Path? Is it possible that Light enters through every crack and crevice?
5. Is death an Awards Assembly or is it a Graduation?
Maybe life after death isn’t an Awards Assembly where we receive our “Eternal Reward” of Heaven or Hell. Maybe death is accountability and opportunity. Maybe The Process Continues. Maybe death is an ending and a beginning.