Friday, April 03, 2009

Hell, Part I

Most of the young people I work with in youth ministry reject the existence of hell. They have neither the room nor the stomach for a God that would act out in such a punishing and eternal manner. I have often pointed out Biblical passages that refute their postures – not so much to change their minds as to make them aware that hell is indeed graphically and repeatedly depicted in scripture. It would be good to point out that I, too, have grave concerns about hell but my concerns are not about its existence - I’ve seen enough evidence of hell on earth to accept its reality. Rather, I’ve worried about what hell would be like for me if I had the terrible misfortune of being dispatched there forever. For me it could be eternity in a tight space, a room filling up with water, living in a snake pit or listening to an eternally looping recording of ‘The Pina Colada Song.’ All those notions make me tremble. I would also point out that I believe in grace and forgiveness but have enough collective anger in me to live comfortably with the notion that there have been those among us that have carved their own path into that endless dark valley. But these are not my decisions to make.
Recently I’ve been pondering a ‘softer hell;’ one that makes its point but does not linger; one that sets the record straight but then turns the hard-hearted into loving and sensible creatures. I, myself, would certainly have to pass through these portals as I assume most who breathed an earthly breath would have to do, also. In front of all humanity, all heavenly beings, the prophets, the saints, the apostles, my mom and The Lord Himself, Jesus would question me. He would uncover my darkest thoughts, my recurring madness, my weird fantasies, my hidden hopelessness and say, ‘Thom, is this really you?’ And I would have to say, ‘Yes Lord, that’s really me.’ I would be fully ashamed but would finally get it off my chest and I doubt that there would be many on the jury who would send me down to the snake pit with ‘The Pina Colada Song’ playing endlessly. Once my trial was over I could take a seat and watch the rest of the sinners like a Roman citizen at The Coliseum. I imagine the following:
Jesus tells Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens: ‘You see my sons, you were both very wrong. Now, look at all the people and tell them you’re sorry.’
Jesus tells Bill Clinton: ‘By heaven’s definition you did have sex with that woman and stop biting your lower lip as if you were sensitive.’
Jesus asks Lee Harvey Oswald: ‘Did you act alone? Tell me the truth because I know the truth – actually, I Am The Truth.’ Lee says, ‘No.’
Jesus gathers a small group on the witness stand and says: ‘Keith, Bill, Rachel, Rush, Chris, Sean – Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.’
Jesus questions Bill Moyers: ‘Are you a Christian?’ Moyers responds, ‘Yes Lord, I am.’ Jesus says, ‘But I never knew you. You were off trying to become your own version of me on public television and by writing those lame books. I am The Way, The Truth and The Life, not you.’
Jesus to Al Gore: ‘Is it cold in here or is it you?’
Jesus to Reverend Barry W. Lynn: ‘First of all, lose the reverend – that’s inappropriate. Secondly, I’ve separated you from your loved ones as you have separated me from everything in the world other than a church. Hurts, doesn’t it?’
Jesus asks Ted Haggard: ‘Ted, did you think we didn’t see you in that cheap motel with muscle man? Did you suppose we were only watching when you were lambasting the poor souls in your pews – my pews, actually? How’s it going with your wife and kids? Tough, huh? Well, you have been a most terrible example of life in the spirit. You have set my purposes back at least 100 years. Hope you enjoyed your years as an insurance man.’
Jesus questions Dubya: ‘I thought I was your biggest philosophical influence? That’s what you said on the television, anyway. So, what’s with all the warring? You really never connected Iraq with 9/11, did you?’ Dubya says. ‘Well, we had some very solid evidence that led us to the conclusion that they were very involved.’ Jesus retorts, ‘Tell me Dubya, what’s the one thing you think about when you think of me or God or heaven?’ Dubya says, ‘Peace.’ 


Blogger Jonathan said...

Hell, I once was named, "Where the hell you've been" just like JP sang once


April 15, 2009 at 11:32 PM  

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