If there’s a ‘Hell’ I’ll probably be there, and that’s okay

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.

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Seeds of Disillusionment 

China Drought

Well I landed at UT Austin, surrounded it seemed by Fundies, all grimly determined to save me, and the common denominator was that if I died that night I’d go to Hell. If there were time travel and I could go back to 1981, I’d tell 18-20yo me that, “1. Relax, you’re probably not going to die tonight. 2. These people are just as clueless as you are. And 3. The afterlife is overrated.”

My first love 

 

stars pexels-51021

This is home.

No matter who or what else expects, requires, or demands it. Regardless of what traditions I have or will ever follow. My first love is always the stars.

And if we continue on and beyond this life, if there is an afterlife this is where I want to spend it. This is where we all came from, and it’s where we are headed.

Carrying the sack: Some thoughts on deconversion

tatersackprisma-finalI’ve been headed in the direction of deconversion for several years. I strongly suspect the process began the day I first converted. It’s like carrying a sack on your shoulder with all the stuff of a religion…beliefs, concepts, commentaries, notes, sermons you’ve heard, ideas, thoughts, prayers, texts, dogma, emotions, rules, regulations, testimonies, myths, legends, all of it. And every so often you have to toss something out of the sack because you have no use for it anymore. Then over the years some doctrine or other, some belief that people hold tightly to but rarely, if ever, examine very closely rattles to the top of the sack and falls out. So you keep walking. And if you don’t tend to the sack weekly spots become frayed and more stuff drops out. Then some time passes, and later you start to realize that the sack has gotten really really light. Finally you stop and ask yourself whether you need what’s in there at all.

That’s the place I arrived at, and my answer to that question was, no.

Cognitive dissonance regarding ‘globalism’

I first heard the term “globalism” when I was in college in the early 80s. I was still very nationalistic in my outlook on the world and I saw lots of us-es and thems. And there were always so many more thems than us-es. It was 30 years ago. I wasn’t as free-thinking as I am now, and I have a long way to go. I bring up September 11th a lot because I see it as the single most significant turning point in world history since the BOMB. That’s how I view it. Others may see things much differently.

Growing up in the 70s we talked about “the year 2000” as this grand trip to a theme park of the future. It was supposed to be sort of a Jetsons ride at Disneyland. So when we got there we were in the recession from the 90s tech bubble and trying to regain the footing when WHAM. Then three buildings, a massive debris cloud, and 3 planes later we were chasing boogeymen in the desert and being fed truth, half truth, no truth, and their opposites about it all.

So coming up on 15 years after it all began I have to say I’m disappointed in the 21st century. I grew up expecting much better.

World_Map_Illustration_RabinkyArtThis is artist Maria Rabinky’s vision of it. Everyone’s perception is going to be different, but the way I saw the years we’re in now was something like this. A world of free and fair trade. Our social and economic issues being handled in a compassionate and equitable manner. And war a thing of the past. Instead of that, there’s Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and now Syria. And the empire marches on.

afghanwarWhen I say cognitive dissonance regarding globalism, I mean that we’ve all been force-fed a dark and unpalatable version of the global village. We’re able to trade, sort of, and the world is a global LZ as far as empire is concerned. Will it, and when will it end? Not this century, and not for a number of generations.

What’s happening should be unpalatable. And it is to many. But humans have a curious ability to adapt to adversity. It allows us to survive but also has us tolerating way too much that we should throw off. Our answers are within. There is no savior coming to scoop everyone up and reset the world. It’s a cute idea on one level. But this is the life we have. Ideas about before and after are nothing but speculation. We have to take care of each other. Keep informing and encouraging one another. We have to reset ourselves. Eventually a generation will grow up that won’t buy the bulk of the anti-intellectual gruel from the so-called “leaders.”