I am sad. Very sad. I found a couple of days ago that my friend and co-worker, Jeff, had lost his battle with cancer. After losing my Uncle Jerry and having friends lose their family members, and having several friends even lose their babies in utero, it’s all just too much. I am swamped in sadness. I’m not functioning very well.
Since I’m a human, my emotions have been all over the place. I have my own problems and suspect that I won’t even get old enough to retire. I started thinking, yet again, about Heaven and Hell. It’s an active subject for me.
For Christianity, Heaven is a place of peace, a paradise, a reward for being a good person. Hell is a place of everlasting torment, a punishment for being a bad person.
Personally, I don’t think either option is very enticing. Plus, the red tape is entirely too confusing.
The Problem of the Paradise of Heaven
We’ve all seen the stereotypes. Heaven as a place of utter peace. We sit on our clouds with our harps and sing the praises of God. There are no problems, everyone there is enlightened. There is no goal to stretch for. Your every need is so thoroughly met that you might forget what a “need” is. You are at peace.
It sounds like obliteration.
It sounds like a total loss of self.
It sounds like Death.
Humans have evolved into intensely complicated critters. We live in inconsistency. We fight others and we fight ourselves. We delude ourselves. Heck, science has even shown that we don’t even see what we think we see. It’s all filtered through our experiences, our knowledge bases, and our biases. We thrive on problems and goals. If we don’t have a problem to worry about, we’ll make one up. It’s our juice.
For many of it, giving it all up sounds like paradise. We want to be able to just sit back and relax and not have to worry anymore. Why do you think beach vacations are so popular?
But eventually our systems will relax, and we’ll start looking around again. We’ll look for the new, the different, and the exciting. We’ll start thinking that it’s too good to be true and start looking for the problem. We’re not built for paradise.
When I think about it that way, it makes complete sense why there was a rebellion in Heaven.
The only way Heaven would work is if we lost the things that make us human. A death of the self.
As someone who has struggled her entire life with mental illness, physical problems, and a bad history; there is some appeal to the release of it all. To quit having flashbacks. To stop worrying. To just be able to relax.
The problem is, I love being a human being. I love the power to think and imagine. I love reading books and learning. I love laughing. I love doing new things and meeting new people. I love telling stories about the bad times, even if my audience isn’t as receptive as I’d like them to be.
The question is: Would I choose Eternal Peace? Or would I choose being what I am. Flaws and all.
The answer changes almost daily…
The Problem with Hell
Hell is the place the Damned go to endure eternal torment for sins committed.
When I think of punishment, I think of the following things:
- The chosen punishment fits the crime.
- The punishment is carried out.
- The punishment ends.
My idea of punishment seems fair to me. And reasonable.
Hell, as defined, does neither of those things. Torment is torment. Some dumbass commits adultery and they’re in the pit next to the serial killer? Really?
And it’s Eternal. Never-ending. There is no room for growth or redemption.
That isn’t punishment.
Now, the God of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible was a jealous and vengeful god. But, for some reason, even with the coming of Jesus and Muhammad and Gautama Buddha, the idea of Hell persists.
Even though most mainstream religions have evolved into somewhat more enlightened ways of thinking, the idea of Hell persists.
It doesn’t make sense if we consider religions to be benevolent.
I think that the main reason that the idea of Hell still persists is due to the need to control.
The Problem with Judgment
I have long believed that if there is a God, and if God is talking to us, it would be impossible to comprehend the message fully.
We didn’t create God, God created us. The idea that we can put limits on God is crazy. The polarities that rule our world, male vs. female, good vs. bad, etc… are human concepts, not God concepts.
I think there is one message, and we all hear it. It may be subconscious for many of us, but the message is always there. (Delving into a sort of Quantum Physics now.)
The trick is that the language is in God’s language. The language of the soul, the heart, infinite. It’s NOT English!
It’s goes something like this:
It is not Gods place to adhere to Humans.
Plus, there are too many different ideas of what it takes to get to Heaven. Too much red tape.
- Catholics believe that confessing your sins, and paying your penance, will nullify them.
- Many groups believe that only their group will go to Heaven.
- The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe only 144,000 people can go to Heaven. (And you really don’t want to know what they think of the rest of us.)
- Some believe that it’s the good intent in their hearts that will send them to Heaven.
- Some groups think that if they drink the Kool-Aid they’ll be picked up by a spaceship. I guess that’s their idea of Heaven.
And how do you get to Hell? There are many ideas around this one.
- For many religions, if you sin and do not repent before you die, you’ll go to Hell.
- For others, just not being one of them will send you to Hell.
- If you watch the TV series Lucifer, people send themselves to Hell with the weight of their own guilt.
- Some believe that it’s the evil in the heart that will send someone to Hell.
To all of this I ask:
- If a Serial Killer somehow believes they’re doing good, do they get to go to Heaven?
- If someone feels deep guilt over stealing a blueberry scone at the local grocery store when they were 12, do they get sent to Hell?
- If someone repeatedly does evil, but goes to confession each time, do they get to go to Heaven?
- And why would anyone believe only 144,000 people can go to Heaven?
- And especially why would anyone ever drink the Kool-Aid?
It’s all a lot of human created hogwash.
We all know people who live in Hell on Earth. And others who pray for the relief of Death. We know people who pretend Godliness, and those who find God in the mundane. I know a group of Atheists who volunteer every week in a soup kitchen. The only weeks they don’t volunteer is Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those two weeks are for the Christians.
I believe that the idea of Hell, and probably Heaven, is a concept that is used to control humans. It’s the use of fear to shape how people think and act. In our need for safety and certainty, we abdicate ourselves and our choices to those who claim authority.
It is easy to convince people. Since we became conscious, we have asked ourselves all the questions:
- What is my soul?
- Is there an afterlife?
- Where did I come from?
- Is there actually Heaven and Hell?
- Does God exist?
It’s so hard to imagine that somehow the center of us, our soul, is not somehow primary. We can’t imagine that when we die, we might just end. But none of us really know the truth. It makes us ripe for the idea of Heaven and Hell. And the presumed authority of those who claim to have heard God.
Maybe it’s time to throw away the red tape.
Maybe it’s time to start listening to God ourselves. Filter the message through what we know in our hearts is right and wrong. Maybe it’s time to live as we were meant to live. Equal to all other humans, a child of God.