I’ve always thought Hell was one of the dumbest things about organized religion. It’s just so friggin’ transparent—if you accept the teachings of [FILL IN THE BLANK RELIGION/RELIGIOUS LEADERS], you are destined for an eternity of bliss and joy, where nobody spills coffee and nobody farts. However, if you do not embrace [FILL IN THE BLANK] in your heart … YOU ARE DOOMED TO AN ETERNITY OF FIRE AND PAIN AND TORTURE!!!!!!!!!!
Gimme a break.
This is—and always has been—an obvious play for control. Listen to the church and pay your weekly dues, you’re good. Stay home on Sundays watching The Miz on WWE, you’re screwed. And why? Because God can see your thoughts and read your heart. Literally, this is the reason—the Holy One can somehow sort through the brains and bodies of the world’s X billion people to decide who accepts Him and who doesn’t. Oh, and you can’t sorta accept Him, because God picks these things up. You’ve gotta really, really, really accept Him. Because He knows. He definitely knows.
No, ludicrous times 8 gazillion.
I bring this up because, earlier today, the stupendous Michael Lewis directed me toward this article, which tells the story of a North Carolina pastor named Chad Holtz who wrote on his Facebook page that he supports a new book by Rob Bell, an evangelical pastor who doesn’t buy the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls. Two days later, enough complaints from parishioners led to Holtz being fired by Marrow’s Chapel in Henderson, N.C. “I think justice comes and judgment will happen, but I don’t think that means an eternity of torment,” Holtz told the Assoctaed Press. “But I can understand why people in my church aren’t ready to leave that behind. It’s something I’m still grappling with myself.”
If you haven’t, watch the above video—it’s a promotional segment for Bell’s book, but also an extremely powerful message about hell and our mindless belief systems. Personally speaking, I’m pretty sure God doesn’t exist (certainly not the Judeo-Christian God we talk and read about). But, if he does exist, he sure as heck isn’t what most Christians are taught to believe. From what I’ve gathered over the years, churches tend to treat faith like a game show. Play well, do right—heaven. Spin the wheel wrongly, land on the black square—hell. That’s it. Don’t think. Don’t question. Certainly don’t debate. Just do. Just go along. Just follow, preferably mindlessly. The church says jump, you jump. The church says hell is eternal damnation, hell is eternal damnation.
Again, it reduces life to a game show; as if we’re only here for a test to determine our worthiness to enjoy eternal salvation. God has arranged everything—mountains, Pee-Wee Herman, telephones, Burger King, global warming, teeth, pooping, braces, disease, death, love, hate—merely to gauge our devotion.
That is, to be blunt, inane.
Let me end the suspense. Act as if there is no hell and there is no heaven. Live righteously because it’s righteous. Help the old lady cross the road because she needs help. When you have pre-marital sex, use a condom to be safe. Don’t throw your cigarettes on the ground. Say “Thank you” and “excuse me.” Spend less time playing golf and more time with your kids. Help the earth.
When you die—and you will die—you’ll likely just turn into dust.