Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Is It Getting Hot In Here Or Is It Just Me?

The Times of London (online edition) reported back in March that Pope Benedict XVI had announced that hell is real and not merely a symbol. He wanted everyone to be clear that eternal damnation in everlasting fire is indeed in the cards for many of us, even if "nobody talks about it much anymore."

This would seem to put Pope Benedict XVI in conflict with his predecessor, Pope John Paul II who in 1999 declared that Heaven was “neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds, but that fullness of communion with God which is the goal of human life.” Hell, by contrast, was “the ultimate consequence of sin itself . . . Rather than a place, Hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy." (These quotes from the Times story.)

As a Unitarian Universalist I certainly align myself with my Universalist ancestors who argued (persuasively, I think) that a truly loving God would not consign any of His (sic) children to eternal damnation, just as no loving earthly parent would turn their back on their child no matter what she or he had done. If God is love, then God is all the things St. Paul says about love in 1 Corinthians 13. Such a God would send no one to hell.

But if Pope Benedict XVI's assertion has you feeling a little nervous about what's in store for you, I heartily recommend the book Go To Hell: a heated history of the underworld. It's by a guy I went to high school with, Chuck Crisafulli and Kyra Thompson. Chuck was a riot then, and I see he hasn't lost the sensibility that made him such a good friend. I'd also recommend (again) going to Mrdeity.com and checking out (especially) episodes 5, 7, and 10.

In Gassho,

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pope Benedict did NOT speak of a hell with fire (and brimstone - hehehe),and I think you know that very well. Anyhow, the Times is always out to get "religion" and especially the Catholic religion. I am NOT a Catholic, but I know the theology of this Pope well. He is not a fire and brimstone man at all. What he believes (and Jesus himself spoke about)is that God created us in love and to come FREELY to him. If we in our freedom do not accept his love and himself, we may very well be without him (as we 've chosen) also after our death. That is "hell". To be without God. One chooses "Hell" or Heaven (Him). He will never force you into life without him or vice versa.