Shit like this is why I cannot be a part of this religion anymore. All my life growing up teachers and others were feeding my head with this idea that Lincoln freed the slaves. 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments all ratified. Then I get to the church and find out I’m still a fucking slave. Christianity is the slave-master’s religion, and I recognize it as such. If Hell is the price then I’ll pay it. The world’s white idol can fuck off.
Physically, as in a geometric location prepositionally oriented to the Earth (below), or a co-planar alter dimension of roasty torments, probably not. But in the hearts and minds of some of the people I’ll leave behind, I’ll be ‘down there,’ wailing and gnashing my teeth because I chose to no longer believe.
The trouble with the afterlife is that we have to die to find out what it is. We talk about it as if we’ve sent NASA battlebot rovers through the tunnel and into the light and we’ve been watching the live feed on the agency’s website. The truth is, we don’t know. We have no reproducible evidence of what, if anything, is over there, or if there is in fact an ‘over there.’ There is a lot of speculation and supposition among people, and most of it is very fervently held.
We live on in the hearts and minds of the people whose lives we’ve touched. That’s the only ‘afterlife’ that’s verifiable. It’s the only afterlife that we do know. That’s why forgiveness is so important, not because of a threat that God won’t forgive you if you refuse. It’s so that you’re not carrying around the burden of encounter after encounter, and situation after situation for years afterwards, and possibly to your grave.
When people die and someone sees them in Hell because they chose to not believe in Christ, or at least to not believe in the ‘Christ’ that was being preached at them, it means that they have a place in their heart for the purpose of burning and torturing people, and they’ve placed that person, their memories of that person, there. And if they have a particularly sick pathology, they take delight in the fact, and count it a blessing to one day observe it. That idea goes back to at least the 13th century, to St. Thomas Aquinas.
I personally know a few people who shine the outsides of their mental furnaces, and whenever I go, if they’re still here, they’ll likely toss me in with the others.
The thing is, eternity, the other side, whatever that is…whatever experience, if any that I’ll have when my time ends here, that’s between me and the creator. That’s between me and the universe. It’s not anyone else’s business. And it certainly has nothing to do with whatever movie is playing in someone else’s head, now or after I leave this experience.
As I think back on those early days 35 years ago, I was a freshman in college and had my first full-blown encounters with proselytizers. At the back of every discussion, encounter, or argument was Hell. It was an idea ever-waiting to be dropped into the conversation at the slightest hint of any refusal to accept. And what I didn’t realize until recently is that Hell was always a gun held to my mind by a god who offers to remove it if I’d only believe.