Friday, October 17, 2008

Hell and More

I have had a number of very similar conversations with people, along the lines of:
them: Isn't (the afterlife/humans' existence/patriarchal morality/having 16 children/et cetera) bizarre?
me: Well, I'm Catholic*.
them: I was raised Christian, but I can't believe in a loving God who would then send his children to eternal damnation.
me: There's always repenting- that's my plan. And you only have to do your best. You don't have to be perfect, because Jesus died for your sins.

But enough people have said that to me that I started thinking about it. And it seems like, why wouldn't there be hell? You're not the center of everything (remember when I said I'm impressionable? People must have said that to me five times daily for 10 years.). It's not unthinkable that you might be punished- yes, forever and ever- for wrongdoing. Your life and soul aren't the only thing ever, they are a tiny part of the tapestry. Why exactly does it seem more likely that just because you've been phenomenally lucky in this life, you can do what you like without consequences? My roommate thinks I'm thoroughly brainwashed, and I see her point but I don't really care. I'm not scared of hell, even though I have sins, because all you have to do (according to my brainwashing, I mean) is 1. be sorry and 2. try to not do it any more. That sounds right to me. How could you go on to eternal bliss still being petty and doing wrong on purpose without wanting to change?

I believe in Catholicism but much of it doesn't resonate with me. Here is a breakdown of it (in a more dignified time it was known as "The Apostles' Creed" rather than a "breakdown")
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. Y (need to look into maleness of that though)
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. Y
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Y
4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. Y
5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. Y
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. Y (again, literalness?)
7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. ?
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit, Y
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, Y (this part I am quite taken with)
10. the forgiveness of sins, Y (that's the main selling point)
11. the resurrection of the body, Y (depending on what that means)
12. and the life everlasting. Y (100%)
So actually it looks like I entirely agree with all of it. But I don't think the commandments are any good. Why are those the important 10? I think the beatitudes are ten times as important. The commandments are just like "play nice" but there's nothing transcendent there.

*no disclaimer or explanation, just the simple fact, which is much harder to question that way.

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