Monday, June 6, 2011


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.


Carola said...

My beliefs and non-beliefs are remarkably just like yours. I guess it's not so remarkable given our upbringing.

Linda Phillips said...

Em, wonderful piece.

I am a non practticing Jew who never had any religious training. I have belived in reincarnation most of my life.I feel very strongly about it and even have had things happen to both myself and to my ex-husband that confirmed it.

I also belive in The Golden Rule. I always have. I simply have never related to any form of organized religion.

I do follow the teaching of the New Age Spiritual writers because they are most closely aligned with what just feels right to me. I belive that god is love that exists in every living thing. That to me is god with a small g.

Alex Johnson said...

A deep question that could lead to another blog.
To keep it short, in my 'personal belief', whether you believe in some form of God or a place called Heaven, or not; if you live your life as best and honestly as you can you should come out on the other side shinning! I find that 99% of religions have an absolutely weird, antiquated,mumbo jumbo, concept of God, death,and the ever after But to each his own. Alex Johnson

Terry said...

I agree with you, though I'm an atheist so I go a step further. One of the more puzzling questions I get is how can I live a moral life without belief in a god. I can't understand how those who ask that question think one needs to believe in a god to try to live a moral life. Apparently the only reason they [allegedly] try to live a moral life is out of fear of punishment. I believe one can legitimately believe that a moral life is an end in itself. Do you ever listen to Pat Condell's atheism videos? Admittedly he is a bit aggressive (which results from years of aggression from Christians) but he is usually thought-provoking.

Melli Oh My said...

My own little opinion, is a two-parter. One, people need to be concerned with TODAY, and being a good person, TODAY, for whatever reason, we are here now. Second, hell is a place where people go out of their own misery...people put themselves into a "hell" of sorts. Don't be an ass...and then it doesn't matter terribly because your a good person and in the battle of good and evil, good wins...if somebody else isn't good to you, that sits on their shoulders and creates difficulty for their own mind...not something we need to carry with us. If there is a heaven, or a hell, I believe we put ourselves the best you can though while your here, and the rest well, you've just got to believe in karma I suppose. :)