Monday, June 6, 2011

WHAT IF THERE'S NO HELL?

That question, for me is ... What if there's no heaven?

A preacher named Rob Bell has blossomed suddenly in the news. He's the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan. Bell is packing in 7000 people every Sunday, ever since he wrote a bestseller -- "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived."

Bell, age 40, is selling his books, DVDs, giving sermons, writing another book, publishing articles, and building a huge following. His personal story -- about his family, his energy and fire, his theology and how he's evolved as pastor is a story to tell. But not right now.

The idea that there's no hell is washed away by my wondering WHAT IF THERE'S NO HEAVEN?

I don't think God is dead. I don't think of religion in terms of what's right or wrong. I just feel far, far away from the succor, familial comfort, talk of church, religion, belief in life after death, salvation, or judgement.

Okay, I'm a self-evolved person. I didn't go to any church and I wasn't brought up with any religious beliefs. I just learned, as I've traveled through the years -- do unto others ... My commandments are listen, pay attention, and help others always, always, if it's possible.

The idea of life after death is not an idea I accept. And having researched, and looked for what to say about Christianity -- well -- I'm quoting what I read: "The standard Christian view of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, that's summed in the Gospel of John, which promises ' eternal life to whosoever believeth in him' -- I don't buy it.

I can't buy it, though it might make my aging, my awareness that I'm approaching the end of my life easier to accept.

Even if you (who are reading this) have a better way of summarizing Christianity -- I shake my head "no." My own logical, practical thoughts, my own experiences with life and death, my parents and brother who have died, and are gone -- tell me, require me, to gather around me, my memories, and say "I will be gone," cremated, gone.

I keep my parents and other important people in my life alive by thinking of them, referring to them in my mind, using what I saw and learned from them. They have life after death because I keep them alive.

Will anyone keep me alive? Sure -- my son and husband, and friends whom I've touched. I have touched people with the attention I've paid to them. Does it comfort me? I don't require comfort. I only ask of myself to live and affirm, whenever possible, and pay attention to people.
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