Saturday, November 10, 2012
Slippery as Hell
From Honest Abe to vaginas to hell...all in one week? You never know what you'll find with this blog, do you? There was an article in the Globe and Mail recently with the title: Hell is a slippery concept in a secular age. It is the first in "an occasional series on dying, death, and the beyond" according to the author Kate Taylor.
Taylor does a pretty good job of addressing our fading belief in hell in any form, something which shouldn't surprise us since fewer people believe in any form of an afterlife, or are fairly vague about it all. Apparently a 2011 poll in Canada found that 29% of us believe in heaven and 19% believe in hell. I would have figured on a higher percentage for heaven.
None of us have been to heaven, and if we say we have been to hell and back it is only a figure of speech. More and more people view hell as a psychological state rather than an address, if they give hell any thought. The fire and brimstone take on hell always seemed to me to be an attempt to "scare people straight" to heaven and that never impressed me.
Still, there are biblical references to separation from God in the afterlife for those who choose to separate themselves from God in this life. While I don't buy into eternal torment, I have said to my wife, Ruth, that there must be a hell for child molesters and terrorist murderers. But I'm not sure whether this is just moral outrage or an actual conviction.There is evil in this world, even if it doesn't look like the devil in the cheese commercial pictured below who can't get the dozy couple to say "hot as hell."
In the near decade I have been here I have only preached on hell once I think, and I was pretty tepid on the subject. So, what do I know. I have often said my image of hell is eternity in a mall filled with crying babies in strollers holding melting ice cream cones. But given I will be a grandfather soon I may need to change up my imagery.
What do you know? Do you have any convictions about hell, one way or another? Should hell be retired or taken out of mothballs?