Oh, Hell …

… all hell’s breaking loose at the Vatican! And, I must confess that the “little devil” in me is dancing a jig over it.

Dore_woodcut_Divine_Comedy_01
Woodcut scene from Dante’s “Divine Comedy” – Gustave Dore

Categorizing this post as Spiritual or Serious-minded will depend on how spiritual and/or serious I can be … about the subject of Hell; about the new Pope’s statement that atheists who do good are “eligible” for redemption; and, the subsequent declaration from the Vatican regarding the ultimate fate of those atheists.

Right up front (and, this is my belief and nothing against anyone who believes differently — unless you’re a Vatican spokesperson) … I do not believe in an afterlife-Hell. (Regarding an afterlife-Heaven: I’ll get to that.) EVEN IF there was such a place, I do not believe that my loving and merciful God would send me there for believing and voicing this belief. AND IF I believed in that Hell, I believe there are much greater sins that would send my soul to that bottomless, fiery pit. Up to now, I would’ve said that premeditated murder would be at the top of that list, but I’ve learned via the Internet that — according to the New Testament — the ONE unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost). Surprisingly, blasphemy against Jesus (Son of man) is forgivable.

Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And, whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (Matthew 12:31-32)

Whew! I’m so glad I believe in the Holy Spirit! This is truth … I’m not being flippant. Still, I can imagine debating Matthew about his  “Son of man” reference and what he believes about “the world to come.”

But, back to the present: I’m very much in agreement with Pope Francis’s statements regarding atheists and their good works. It’s an inclusive philosophy that unites humanity, and it’s what Jesus would teach. However, not even a week passed after the Pope’s statements when a Vatican spokesman declared that atheists were still going to Hell, despite Pope Francis’s remarks. Evidently, if these “good-works atheists” know about the Catholic Church but still remain non-believers, they cannot be saved.

Hello, Mr. Vatican Spokesman! What makes you think atheists are taking you seriously? An atheist does not believe in God, Jesus as the Son of God, the afterlife-Heaven nor the afterlife-Hell. And, just saying something — even if you are living in a Vatican world — does not make it true. Even when the infallible Pope says something, it’s not necessarily without error. The difference is that what he said was kind and compassionate. It was CHRISTian.

Can you imagine the “spirited” discussion around the Vatican dinner table after the Pope’s statements?! I’m thinking that behind closed doors some of the cardinals may have said something like, “Merda! We should’ve known better than to choose a Jesuit!” Among the ordained, Jesuits are considered to be the most intellectual and the most rebellious. Then again, considering the problems the Catholic Church is facing (the sex abuse scandal and shortage of priests, to name a couple), maybe the cardinals knew exactly what they were doing.

Perhaps this is just the beginning of the process for change in the church: Pope Francis professes a more open-minded view, and other Vatican officials object to his beliefs — either because it’s what they believe, or they are being political and appeasing their conservative base. Whatever. It’s a completely different Catholic Church than what the world is used to seeing and hearing from, and one I can support. Amen!

In closing:

  • I have long wanted to believe in a Heaven after this life because I would love to see and be with certain people again. But, I don’t believe that “place” exists. I believe — depending on our thoughts, words, and actions — that our spirits/energy create a heaven and/or a hell on Earth. I believe in karma. Biblically speaking, “we reap what we sow.” I can agree there’s science in the spiritual laws of karma, and I can propose there’s is a spiritual mystery within the first law of thermodynamics — “energy is neither created nor destroyed” — that when our bodies die, our spirits/energy can pass into the cosmos. In fact, Einstein — considered by many to be the pre-eminent scientist of the 20th century — defined his religious belief as “cosmic spirituality.”
  • Thank you, God, for Pope Francis! He defied tradition by washing the feet of women — one of them a Muslim — at Holy Thursday’s Mass (Thursday before Easter); additionally, this was the first time that Mass has been held outside the Vatican’s papal church. Oh, and “he pulls no punches on Twitter,” when he lambasts corporate greed. (Now, if he can only do something about the scandalous Vatican financials.)
  • For those who are wondering about this post’s photo … The woodcut scene from Dante‘s Divine Comedy is “material in the public domain,” not subject to copyright laws because the artist (Gustave Dore: 1832 – 1883) died more than 100 years ago. Dante’s epic poem describes his journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven — in a quest to be with God. (I know from personal experience this type of spiritual journey is one we can travel here, on Earth … fodder for a later Spiritual post.)

 

5 thoughts on “Oh, Hell …

  1. very interesting. having the same background at the same time as you and Craig (MHC, 5 points, Park Hills), I went through a lot of the same dilemnas, especially during my university years. now, ;living in a Buddhist country (thailand) i am curious about their beliefs but find a common ground with what Christians have done with their religion. lot’s of people going through the motions, but not following the precepts to leading a good and spiritual life. lot of thinking and no real answers except my own integrity and beliefs

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    1. Thank you for your comments, Ray! I would be interested to know more about your experiences in Thailand/with Buddhists. In fact, if you want to post something on my site, let me know; I’d like to review it before giving you privileges. BTW, Anne Lamott has a page on FB; I think you would enjoy her stuff very much. She’s so funny 😉

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  2. First of all, thank you for following my blog. Secondly, sorry for commenting here, I clicked on view profile and got a gravatar page that I couldn’t get anywhere with? Everything I clicked on brought me to, ‘not your site’. So I came here to at least thank you for the follow. You can delete this after you read this if you like so you can keep this space for this specific post.

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    1. No problem … Thank you for scrolling my site! I am curious as to what you would think of “Oh, Hell …”
      BTW, I think what you’ve done w/your blog is impressive. Even tho’ I have never been a serious student of The Bible (and doubt I will become one), I admire your passion for organizing it in such a way that simplifies following topics.

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