It’s not unusual for those of us in progressive religious faiths to be told, even if from time to time, that we are going to hell for our beliefs or our lack of the right beliefs. If “hell” is anything else, it is the ultimate doctrine of fracture, of division, of rejection, and condemnation. I’m not talking about what people deserve. I’m talking about how religious people use this notion of “hell” to do these things to other human beings: to break them, to divide against them, to reject them and to condemn them.
I’ve never done this before, but to carry on this reflection, please take time to read this blog on what one man thinks he will do before he goes to the hell that others tell him he is going to. These are words of wisdom, in my opinion. They reset my sense of belonging.
Thank you, Bob. This reminded me of the Sunday morning I found my truth about hell.
I was sitting in a gospel church one Sunday morning listening to the preacher rant about people who didn’t believe in God going to hell and trying to decide how to respond inside my atheistic self, knowing he was trying to make everyone feel guilty and ashamed, when it suddenly occurred to me, what if someone like me doesn’t believe in hell? Why should I feel guilty? Why should I feel shame? Why should I let these cultural words bind me to emotions and baggage that come out of my past?
Right then, I felt better. I sat up a little straighter. I straightened my shoulders and found my sense of humor. I let him talk and the words roll off me. I centered myself on my place in the world and the gifts I bring to it. And I found peace within, instead of what he wanted me to. Now I listen to him and recognize that it’s not about me. And I let go.
In my opinion, I want to go where those kind of people aren’t. That they choose to call it “hell” is not my concern. I’m sure where I’m going is a lovely place made all the better by their absence.