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I got an email from my friend Doug Hodgkinson the other day. Which was odd. Because Doug died seven years ago.
I wondered where he was writing from. And if they have wi-fi connections there, wherever “there” is. They don’t have gmail addresses, anyway. Doug had a gmail address before his death, but this message came from Hestbript@ibh1mnhk6k.rereprsente.us, which reads like the proverbial roomful of monkeys whacking typewriter keys at random.
Just in case there’s any doubt, I don’t think the message came from either heaven or hell – unless it’s the kind of hell that exploiters of human weakness and gullibility create. I gave up believing in hell long ago; I gave up on heaven a little later.
The two go together, because they both assume a God who hands out rewards and punishments.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: life, Hell, heaven, death, email
“Why do you keep writing about religion?” one of my correspondents asked. “Does anyone care anymore?”
Statistics support his point. I’ve written before about plunging membership in churches. In the white western world, that is – Asia and Africa seem to be flourishing. U.S. evangelical churches have been the exception, until now, but surveys suggest their decline simply lags about 40 years behind the mainline churches.
But that doesn’t make religion irrelevant. It just means that more and more people aren’t aware of what’s pushing their buttons.
And their buttons are their belief systems.
Which may or may not be what’s traditionally called “religious.”
Author Ayn Rand called herself an atheist, but she believed passionately in every individual’s right to live without government interference. Her ideas permeate the U.S. Republican party.
David Suzuki professes no religious beliefs. But in interviews, it’s clear he believes passionately in evolution.
Carl Sagan believed in science; Stephen Hawking believes in mathematics; Sigmund Freud believed in sex.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: Hell, judgement, televangelists
“What kind of work do you do?” the surgeon asked, tilting back in his chair. The two of us were having a get-acquainted interview.
“I edit books,” I told him.
“What kind of books?”
“Religious books, mostly.”
He leaned forward, suddenly intent. “And what’s religion going to do when medicine delivers immortality, instead of religion?” he demanded.
I tried to explain that religion wasn’t just about earning eternal life. And it isn’t, though many people do look forward to living forever in heaven. (No one looks forward to living forever in hell.)
I don’t think I convinced him.
Tags: Hell, heaven, immortality, eternal life, medicine
No doubt you’ve heard that Douglas Garland was convicted of kidnapping, torturing, dismembering, and burning the bodies of five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents Alvin and Kathy Liknes.
Garland, 57 years old, was sentenced to three consecutive 25-year terms of life imprisonment. Seventy-five years might seem sufficient punishment, but Nathan’s father wanted more – eternal punishment.
At the sentencing hearing, Rod O’Brien addressed Garland directly: “For those who choose evil, they will get an eternity of evil. A life sentence on earth is nothing compared to what waits for you.”
Having lost a son myself, many years ago, I can sympathize with the intensity of O’Brien’s grief. I hope his belief in hell – and in heaven for Nathan -- gives him comfort. It wouldn’t, for me.
Because I don’t believe in hell.
Tags: Hell, heaven, judgement