The Fires of Hell and the Good of Humanity

Over the past few days, I had two common interactions. On their own, they might make some sort of twisted sense. It was only sheer luck that these conversations happened so close together, pointing out the obvious fallacy in both.

The first was a discussion I had with my father. This is always a dangerous event as my father and I have a history of poor communication when it comes to controversial issues. We were discussing the fear of men which, unfortunately, devolved into a conversation about men as animals and women who should know better. He then said something I had heard many times before.

That’s why we have religion. The only thing that holds people back is the thought of eternal punishment in the fires of Hell.

Is this the truth of humanity? We would all be murderers, rapists and thieves if not for the potential for eternal damnation? He can think that all he wants, because I have never seen that stop a Christian from being cruel or an atheist from being compassionate.

This conversation was on my mind yesterday, as a friend told me about someone she was once close to in grade school. This acquaintance came from a strictly Catholic, conservative family. Recently, my friend discovered her old acquaintance had given birth out-of-wedlock twice. While this is nothing to be ashamed of, her family certainly thought differently. The idea that their daughter was having sex and got pregnant out-of-wedlock was likely scandalous.

That girl’s story is something I saw many times in my small town. I’m sure it’s common among Catholic families everywhere. People tend to pick and choose the religious rules we follow. This girl ignored the rule about premarital sex, but probably upheld the rule on ‘abortogenics’ like birth control and condoms. A handful of infants were born this way in my high school.

There are plenty of other examples. Leviticus bans plenty of activities we do today, such as planting more than one kind of seed in a field, cutting hair on the sides of your head and eating pork. These are somehow rules worth ignoring except for that one that is probably about homosexuality.

Wars are easily supported, but God forbid you miss a Sunday church service. Priests and ministers call their congregation to help the poor and too often they leave the lesson in the sanctuary, treating the less fortunate like they are below them (See Sundays Are the Worst for more examples than you can handle).

This isn’t to say that there aren’t good religious people or that religion is a pointless belief. I simply mean to show that religion fails at the control many attribute to the institution. More often than not, people pick and choose what religious rules they will follow and which they won’t. In this way, religion has no control at all.

I don’t intend this article to be a giant slap in the face to religion. Instead, I mean to ask one question: Why? Why does religion lack the control it is supposed to have? Why are their good atheists and bad Christians/Jews/Muslims/Fill-in-the-Blank?

The answer has two parts, the first of which I feel should be obvious. Religion is not God. Religious rules, doctrine and dogma are not God. Love is God and God is Love. That’s the heart of the spiritual relationship people strive for with Divinity. The second part of the answer is that the purpose of religion is not to control the masses (although it has certainly been used that way many times). All religion is meant to worship Divinity. It is a human created institution established to help humanity grow in their relationship with the mystery of Divinity. After all, I can only assume we were not given free will only to be controlled.

This photo, “free ‘group’ hugs” is copyright (c) 2014 Jesslee Cuizon and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

We are not meant to be controlled. Instead, we are called to bring joy, peace, comfort and love to this world. I choose to believe that humanity is inherently good. We don’t need religion to teach us compassion, love and empathy. These are aspects of a good person, not a good religious morality.

Think about the Catholic idea of the ‘Indulgence,’ a practice of paying the church cash for sins you plan to commit later. Those who did so were following the religious moral code of the time, but were they good people? The answer to that question lies not in the religion they followed, but in their personal moral.

I still hold on to the belief that religion has the potential to do a lot of good in our world. This good is not gained through the control of humanity or blind belief in dogma. The fires of Hell stop no evil person, religious or otherwise, from acting on their own moral code. Instead, religion can and should act as a safe haven, caring for the sick, poor and imprisoned. It can and should enhance the good in humanity – the compassion, empathy and love – and spread it to all in need of a comforting hand in our world. These good acts are the purpose of religion, not control.

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43 thoughts on “The Fires of Hell and the Good of Humanity”

  1. I don’t believe in the mainstream biblical hell, but it seems to me that if you refrain from doing evil only to avoid hell, you belong in that hell. If goodness isn’t written on your heart you belong in that make believe hell, and are probably in your own created hell on earth right now.

    1. I’ve found that the concept of Hell is mostly a Christian concept. I have Jewish friends who tell me they don’t believe in Hell (it was explained to me like circles inside of circles. God is in the center and if you are good, you go to one of the circles closest to God. Those are are bad must stay in the outermost. I’m no expert, though).

      I agree and, the funny thing is, most Christian preachers agree. I remember sitting during a service where the priest flat out side, we should not be doing just enough to stay out of Hell. Instead, we should be doing everything we can to see Heaven. I think what bothers me most about the idea that people are only good to stay out of Hell is what that says about humanity. People honestly think the whole of humanity is that dark and twisted? I can’t believe people have such poor regard for the average person.

      1. Because of Roman politics, we’ve lost the keys to understanding the allegory and symbols used in scriptures. I do know it is written “The Kingdom of heaven is within you.” So if that’s what one seeks, one must look inside, that’s where jesus said it is. The Law of Karma seems rational to me, I can see that by hurting someone else I’m really hurting myself. That’s a good reason to be Altruistic. But hell is fear based, and fear is a good way to control people. I won’t base the meaning of my life on old Roman politics. lol

        1. I see a few religious ministers try to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven within us, but they are few in number. I really hope that thinking grows and becomes the main thought of Christian religion. I truly believe that our obsession with rules and traditions prevents us from having a decent relationship with Divinity because God gave us free will. Divinity does not try to control us like religion does.

  2. Marx called religion the “opiate of the masses,” and I believe he was correct in his claim. Religion, in the form it has assumed since the advent of the Church of Rome, has been built to control people. The individual members of the church (and most religions) are faithful for the right reasons (most of the time anyway) – it is the people at the top who bear the blame and responsibility for redirecting the power of religion into the controlling burden it has become.

    1. I agree with you about the people at the top. There is power and money there. Most wouldn’t give that up for the world. I still feel like the willfully ignorant followers hold some blame, though. They blindly follow and sometimes that causes harm to the world. I feel like a lot of people do this because it’s easier than having to think for themselves.

      1. Agreed. Both elements are part of the problem, but I tend to look to the top levels of organizations to find the source of problems. I suppose that the blame is equally shared between the two parties. And you are certainly correct in charging people with mental laziness and allowing other people to do their thinking.

        1. You are right. Most of the blame belongs to the people on top. They are the ones who could implement the most change and yet they refuse.

  3. Its simple to me.. Earth is our home…heaven and hell are and biblical STORIES and are just poems and fairy tales.
    In most stories there are truths and exaggerations in many of them…otherwise not many people would read a story with just facts with no GLAMMER or added pizazz ..with not entertainment value…Unless you are someone like me that like real life stories. I have read many bibles not just one. I believe from observing the life we live in, what I see in the world. I believe w e have one chance in our lives to either make it heaven or hell. We will end up turning this world that was once a heaven into a hell.
    We are showing and have proven through our past history that we do this very well, from the FEAR of the unknown..form the unknown about other people, that fear that turns into hatred…the fear of what happens after we die. Which no one knows.
    But they will argue about and murder each other over what they BELIEVE they know. They will argue WHOS STORY is the BEST to believe in!
    Which is in a story that a corporation made up, to control people. Which corporation made up a better story and can convert more people to following that story has gained the most power. That was the intent of those stories.

    I believe there have been peaceful loving people that have tried to teach many others NOT to believe in man made stories…and not to follow oppression and worship material things, images and labels and laws. TO CONTROL MEN and everything on this planet. “On earth as it is in heaven” that is said to the direct words from Jesus… TO me that is a reference to Making this earth into Heaven as WE COULD DO…and as we should do!

    We have the ability to do great things, but instead we do the most horrific things to each other and other creatures and to this earth,all for what..? THE PROMIS OF MONEY of getting ahead, the promise of having something more than we do now. AN empty promise, because money will never by anyone love or true happiness!

    Instead people believe they don’t really have to give a shit about this earth or other people and they can just be selfish and pray for themselves and to pray the EVEIL or negativity away…but They can’t. Reality is here on this planet…and if people don’t change.

    The earth will be the hell that is talked about in books. Do to man not taking control of their own actions and just blaming it one something like a story..or someone else..Like using a scapegoat, sacrificing each other instead of themselves. Which creates wars and crime and negativity or “evil” is how biblically that word retaliates to. Man blames a devil and worships a god. Which are just a way to not take responsibility for their own actions.

    It is meant to scare people into control…but people that say stuff like without those books men would be out of control..kinda of scare me…because that means without those books those same men would be psychopaths, right!?
    I observe nature and there is not one animal that has read a bible and the can get along and love each other just fine. MAN creates ways to manipulate others for their personal gain. Because of their fears and insecurities.
    The earth will be a dead one day and no life on it will be able to exist, that is a fact. Our lives on this planet are short…Man is insecure about that so he wants his life to live on…It is a great dream. But just a dream….

    Jesus was said to also speak of this, if everyone is not “SAVED” no one will be saved!
    To me in that statement he was trying to tell people that this earth if not all people make this earth into heaven…it will be the hell we turn it into and we will have to live with that. There is no other place to go but here, we are born here and will die here. People or companies FIGHT over this mans NAME….they take his story and try to own it,. they claim the rights to his name and use it as a marketing tool.

    I believe in many different people that have tried to inform people of PEACE is the answer. Those people have been tortured Jailed, persecuted, tortured and assassinated through out our history!
    Why?? Because oppression and hatred can’t allow freedom or peace to live.

    Oppression fears Freedom! Oppression makes a lot of money off of fear and lies. Oppression coast the most lives and makes the most money off of TAKING those lives, in fact with all the WAR, destruction and discrimination and segregation it causes, makes the most followers as well.
    It creates poverty and desperation. so it makes people want even the promise of eternal salvation. It creates a desperate need for ANYTHING as a chance for a better life than someone has now.

    There are many desperate people searching for that ( far a chance or even a promise of any life that may be better for them!) That is how slaves are made! and Kept desperate so they are desperate to do any thing for anyone offering ANYTHING!

    It is unnecessary in a world where MONEY ( this is if money was used for GOOD and everyone to have COMMON wealth!) it is so abundant that no one needs to live in poverty if it was shared equally., but instead it causes class warfare. IF you look at how much money goes into building a church or political governing monuments to worship corporations and their past LEADERS and not actually feed the starving or make them shelters or dwelling to live in, the picture should be clear…Who is in the wrong…THE ELEITE corporations that use the many to get people to WORSHIP THEM and their organizations!

    It cause’s greed and jealousy, envy and desire to have it. We do not need it…Man created it and LAWS to protect it!

    When WE do not even protect yourselves..WE are giving incentives to protect the money and KILL each other…no matter THE COST! So man has created their own EVIL ways they have created a cycle of negativity that if not reversed it will only continue to get worse. Its not a story its real.

    I don’t fear death because I know its part of life. I will die and go back into the earth from where all life on this planet came. I will give back through my own body, to nourish the plants and animals that have given their life so I could live. MY reliegino is LIFE..and I worship the world and all its creatures all of its glory..and beyond the it into the stars. We are all made from the same energy that created the universe and from the same stardust. Made form the same material, but our energies can vary. Our chemical balances can be and are different. We are all the same yet slightly different. We are all just trying to survive. Every creature on this earth and even the earth itself..IT ahs a beginning and an end…
    Our Universe will have the same fate. Its life span is much greater than our own and its secretes are as well. The mysteries of life should not be feared but be researched and given answer to. I question everything and only believe in the things I see. I don’t just believe anyone. First I have to trust them, then I still will question them and if they can’t answer the questions I ask…they are not believable to me.

    Thanks for the post..I like talking about this, its the focus of my blog and its a world issue. Take care and lots of love and peace to you and yours.
    1worldUP! Not Down! 🙂

    1. You say some great things here, especially in terms of fear. What better way to control people? I think a lot of this comes down to people worshiping dogma in place of God. They value their rules, their traditions and their beliefs over that of any spiritual relationship with God. Because of this, wars are fought and earth is made hell, as you say. If only people bothered to think for themselves. I’m not saying people should become atheists. I think people just need to focus on their personal relationship with Divinity more than anything else. Without the traditions and dogma, there is still God, if only they tried to see.

      1. That is true…opening ones eye’s to reality and that we are all made from the same things but we come in different packages..:)People are blinded by FEAR, they can be blinded by LOVE as well…they can be blinded by pride and faith too. Seeing the world as life and as If people believed in acceptance peace and freedom and not fear, war and oppressing, the world would be a better place to live, no matter what other ideology people wanted to follow. Getting followers and having slaves or servants is all about control and not freedom. People are free to believe what they want to, as long as they don’t try to force others to in any way. That is my view on life…and on freedom. Because freedom will never be forced it can not be…only oppression can be forced… and it is..it is what try’s to dominate the world and it does.

        1. “People are free to believe what they want to, as long as they don’t try to force others to in any way.”

          I couldn’t say it better myself. What’s ironic is, by trying to control others, they open themselves up to having their freedom taken as well. After all, if it’s found moral for their religion to force itself on others, then it is also moral for other religions to force their view on to them. It blows my mind how no one can see that.

      2. We are all individuals with our own view, to be had and to be shared. That being said we have our own personal beliefs from those experiences and views..we have the right to have them and share them and if we do not share them openly no one will see our views or our beliefs, SO why even be born if we are not going to be an individual with our own views and life to share!? That is why I believe in diversity and individuality. I will share this with you as well…
        From Wikipedia a reference about personal beliefs systems and sovereign beings…What we chose to be our creator and where we belief we came form is a belief we all have the right to believe in. When it starts to oppress people that is when I have a problem with a belief system. Here is the article about being a sovereign being and belief systems You could find more by looking up concepts of gods on Wikipedia if you are interested!?. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what I believe is true or not though. Its just what I have come to know as my truth and my reality. :)
        “Hellenistic philosophy and religion
        Platonism
        Main article: Aristotelian view of God
        In his Metaphysics, Aristotle discusses meaning of “being as being”. Aristotle holds that “being” primarily refers to the Unmoved Movers, and assigned one of these to each movement in the heavens. Each Unmoved Mover continuously contemplates its own contemplation, and everything that fits the second meaning of “being” by having its source of motion in itself, moves because the knowledge of its Mover causes it to emulate this Mover (or should).
        Aristotle’s definition of God attributes perfection to this being, and as a perfect being can only contemplate upon perfection and not on imperfection, otherwise perfection would not be one of his attributes. God, according to Aristotle, is in a state of “stasis” untouched by change and imperfection. The “unmoved mover” is very unlike the conception of God that one sees in most religions. It has been likened to a person who is playing dominos and pushes one of them over, so that every other domino in the set is pushed over as well, without the being having to do anything about it. Although, in the 18th century, the French educator Allan Kardec brought a very similar conception of God during his work of codifying Spiritism, this differs to the interpretation of God in most religions, where he is seen to be personally involved in his creation.
        Hermeticism[
        “The All” is the Hermetic version of God. It has also been called “The One”, “The Great One”, “The Creator”, “The Supreme Mind”, “The Supreme Good”, “The Father” and “The Universal Mother”.[citation needed] The All is seen by some to be a panentheistic conception of God, subsuming everything that is or can be experienced. One Hermetic maxim states that “While All is in THE ALL, it is equally true that THE ALL is in All.” (Three Initiates p. 95) The All can also seen to be hermaphroditic, possessing both masculine and feminine qualities in equal part (The Way of Hermes p. 19 Book 1:9). These qualities are, however, of mental gender, as The All lacks physical gender.
        According to The Kybalion, The All is more complicated than simply being the sum total of the universe. Rather than The All being simply the physical universe, it is said that everything in the universe is within the mind of The All, since The All can be looked at as Mind itself (Three Initiates pp. 96–7). The All’s mind is thought to be infinitely more powerful and vast than humans can possibly achieve (Three Initiates p. 99), and possibly capable of keeping track of every particle in the Universe. Despite The All being described as subsuming the universe, the possibility of there being things outside of The All is not excluded.
        The All may also be a metaphor alluding to the godhead potentiality of every individual. “[God]… That invisible power which all know does exist, but understood by many different names, such as God, Spirit, Supreme Being, Intelligence, Mind, Energy, Nature and so forth.” In the Hermetic Tradition, each and every person has the potential to become God, this idea or concept of God is perceived as internal rather than external.
        The All is also an allusion to the observer created universe. We create our own reality; hence we are the architect, The All. Another way would to be to say that the mind is the builder. Freemasonry often includes concepts of God as an external entity, however, esoteric masonic teachings[citation needed] clearly identify God as the individual himself: the perceiver. We are all God and as such we create our own reality. Although others believe God to be abstract. Meaning he is not seen in reality, but understood through deep contemplation. He is all around us everyday, just hiding in the miracles and beauty of our Earth.”
        I personally do not believe my creator has a gender or one distinct image rather my creator is everywhere in all the images I can see and beyond… Everywhere I look I see what and where I came from nd what I am a part of…and I am a part of life..which we all are. and we all have the right to be free and believe what ever it is that makes us happy…again as long as it ( a belief system does not oppress a life into slavery for a dollar or a personal gain for another individual without the consent of another sovereign being) If a individual does not harm another life to benefit ones own personal life or ventures, when its not for survival but just profit and power or fame and glory. that is a belief system I will never buy into. 🙂

        1. I agree with how you see the world. I don’t think God has a gender either and I don’t think God has a corporeal being. God is everywhere…. it’s complicated for me to explain further. The closest I can get is this thought: perhaps God is the rock that existed before the big bang. It’s consciousness may have been the energy that ignited the big bang from which all the universe was created. In that way, God is everywhere and all things because all things came from that single cosmic event.

          I’m not sure on that whole Big Bang and God theory, but it’s something I think about.

          1. Life begins from energy and chemicals that combine together..its all life that requires light to see it in our world, otherwise the dark is hard to make out anything, in our life and any organisms on this planet we need light and water to begin and it can’t live without them. Even a rich will crumble when it dries out, turning to dust. Life dies out without water. It is what is proven and is a fact of our lives. I need no more proof to respect that and give it all my praise and appreciation. My creator is not an image of man, it is an image of everything of all life I see…and of course beyond what we can’t see, or have not seen or discovered yet. I can explain my view and what I believe for days none stop if I had to, because I believe in it whole heartedly, I also accept other people beliefs, but I don’t talk about what I believe with people that do not want to discus what our beliefs are with an open mind, because its a waste of time, if they only want to speak their mind and beliefs… and not listen to anyone else, they are the people I see as having a closed mind and I can not learn anything from them or leach them anything and if we are not learning from each other and teaching each other things, to me that is not living, to me that is a part of dying, when we can’t learn anything else or teach anything else, we are on our way to withering away. Life is about growth and when we stop growing, its getting time to die 🙂 I like your writings and views, thanks again for sharing them..It nice to see an opened view.

  4. The awareness and thoughtfulness you present in this article should occur more often in our society. I grew up in a Catholic home. While I struggled to go to church every sunday or to understand why I need to confess sins to a stranger, I never struggled to offer a friend a place to sleep or counsel those that were going through difficult times. I’ve always understood the purpose of good morale but not in religious terms. I’m open to the concept of a God as much as I am open to alien life, simply because its possible. However, I can’t say I’ve treated people the way I have because I’m afraid of fire. In that context it would be more accurate to say I treat people the way I do because I fear a world in which our humanity is lost.

    1. “it would be more accurate to say I treat people the way I do because I fear a world in which our humanity is lost.”

      I think this describes my moral as well. It reminds me of a post I wrote on Polygamy. I am against the practice. It does not fit my moral. However, I don’t want to live in a world where we make laws that dictate who a consenting adult can love and who they can’t, so I choose to support polygamy (so long as it’s equal for all genders and sexualities). In other areas of life, I choose to help people whose believes and morals don’t match my own because I don’t want to live in a world where we must all be the same to gain acceptance and help.

      I had no problems going to church on Sunday as a child. I just eventually got tired of the hypocritical way the church was. I never saw the people of my congregation act like their faith said they should. I didn’t see acceptance of sinners. This, among other things, eventually lead me to lose faith in the church, but not in Divinity. I guess you could say I’m very sure that God exist but I can’t say anything to prove it. It has more to do with a personal spiritual relationship that I can’t explain.

      Thank you for your kind words.

  5. “Is this the truth of humanity? We would all be murderers, rapists and thieves if not for the potential for eternal damnation? He can think that all he wants, because I have never seen that stop a Christian from being cruel or an atheist from being compassionate.”

    This is the entire argument in a nutshell. Good thinking. Maybe your father would be those things if not for the fear of hell, but it is certainly not true of most of us. (Now don’t go quoting me in an argument with him…)

    I wish that Catholics would go deeper into the religion and also, Buddhists would go deeper into the religion. Intention is EVERYTHING in both. Funny, right? If you refrain from committing a “sin” in Buddhism because of your fear of karma, there is a lesser intent to do “right.” And, if you kill another in defense because that is the only way to save a village, yes, you reap karma, but the intention in Absolute reality is a bit different. Same in Catholicism. It is why a 2-year-old who picks up her parents loaded gun in the bedside table and kills his sibling is not committing a big sin. No intent. My mother was explained this by our very good friend the Padre, a brilliant priest. She wanted to use condoms because my deadbeat dad wouldn’t support his children. Padre said, “Do you think using a condom is committing a sin?” My mom said, “No, I think bring in boatloads of kids i can’t support is committing a sin.” He said, “Then you go gurl.” (Paraphrasing. I was the child when the condom slipped 13 years later.)

    So where do we get intentions? Morality? I don’t get mine from fear of bad karma in another life. Possibly when you are growing there is some truth to fear teaching good behavior, but really, compassion and love and caring and right action comes from a stranger teaching of right action.

    Another thoughtful blog, thanks, Kate

    1. You’re right; intentions are everything. I think that kind of thinking is built into Catholicism (not sure about other Christian religions) it’s always ignored. I mean, if they actually had the intentions the speak of, then a pregnant teenager or a drug addicted thief could turn to them for help without fear of being judged. Instead, Catholics judge and condemn. It’s like they think helping those in need is the same as condoning their actions. Last I checked, Jesus sat with sinners without condoning their actions.

      All that is to say, a good person would try to help. A good church would have the right connections to welcome those people and say ‘come, we can help. Enter our rehab program. Stay in our women’s center. Feel welcomed.’ For all the good that most Christian religions try to do, I rarely see them care for people who are not Catholic or who likely can’t be converted.

  6. ‘People tend to pick and choose the rules we follow.’ True about nearly everything. We rationalize all of our choices.

    I don’t expect purity of adherence to rules and dogma. I do expect fairness and choices that place good above evil. That can be done within, or outside of, a religion. It can be done whether hell is part of your belief system.

    1. Very true, but it also shows that religion is not necessary in order to be a good person. As such, it makes no sense to judge those who don’t follow a religion or to assume they are bad people.

  7. I decided a long time ago that religion was just a way for people to feel safe. They feel like they have a purpose in life because their GOD put them here so he must care. My BF’s dad once said to me, “If I didn’t believe in God I’d kill my self. I don’t see why people who don’t believe in God don’t just kill themselves. What do you have to live for if you don’t think you’ll go anywhere when you die?” This made me very sad for him because he truly believes that he has nothing to live for if he has no ultimate destination. I told him that his son and I don’t ever feel like killing ourselves. We love our lives and strive everyday to enjoy ourselves to the fullest. His reply, “But when you die that’s it. It just ends for you. Why not just believe so you can get into Heaven?” I then told him that I don’t think just believing in a God for that 50/50 shot you could be right is something a God would care for. I then told him that I truly believe that when I die the last of my life energy will join with the energy of our world and continue to flow forever in the circle of life. Needless to say I got a, “Well whatever.” lol

    1. I like your view. While I still hold on to a belief in Divinity, it’s complicated and includes the flow of the ‘circle of life’ you talk about. I’ve heard people say what your BF’s father has said before, though, and it is sad. To me, that is a person who has no care for this world. They could care less about anyone or anything here and they are only focused on what happens after death. How depressing! Also, using that same logic, what happens after death? What happens when the destination has been reached and there is nothing left to strive for? Isn’t that just as depressing?

      I see this as being similar to science vs. religion. There is wonder and joy that can be found in both. Similarly, Purpose and reason can be found within religion and outside religion. Outside the realm of religion, I think our purpose is to progress the species and take care of our planet. Life is full when we strive for our dreams and goals. There is purpose with or without religion.

  8. I never really understood the concept of adhering to a dogma in the hope that you would be rewarded for it after you die. I prefer to try to make the current world a heaven/paradise unto itself.

    1. I agree that we waste our lives if we are not present in what goes on everyday. I think religion tries to do this. They try and tell people to care for others and to care for the planet, but all anyone thinks is ‘I don’t want to go to Hell. How do I avoid that?’ With that thinking,we focus more on our death than our life. How sad.

  9. I could never understand why people talk about haven and hell, I do believe that its our religions that made them feel so but the real happiness and goodness comes from heart , not from the fear of something that refrains the real you.
    If your heart doesn’t have compassion and love for anyone then I don’t think u deserve so called “Haven”.
    If people have to follow , they must follow only HUMANITY.
    That’s It!

    1. It’s true that our goodness comes from our hearts, not fear.They say there are three different Christian ‘Gods’ in America. There is the vengeful God, the merciful God and the jealous God. Last I heard, I think the country is pretty evenly split on which they believe. I choose to believe in the mercy of Divinity. A merciful God would not rule with the fear of revenge or jealously.

      1. Until we have more than one God,we ll suffer from fear and jealousy. We wont be able to unite ourselves with other human of other religion. We need to understand that there is one and only one God who is only pleased by act of humanity and mercy nothing else.

        1. I feel I should clarify that these three ‘Gods’ are technically all the same God. It just that 1/3 of Americans (not sure about the rest of the world) believe Divinity is jealous, 1/3 believe Divinity is vengeful and 1/3 believe Divinity is merciful. How you worship and how a religion controls depends on what demeanor they claim God has.

  10. So beautiful written TK, there’s so much that has been said in the comments, so I’ll just say that religion is only a good thing in the hands of merciful men & women; people who are laid back and chill……unfortunately, it seems as though too often the people who are running religions have sticks in their arses.

    1. Yeah, what’s with that? I thought knowing God was supposed to fill people with joy. Too often religious people seem so pessimistic.

  11. I really enjoy your blog, so don’t be discouraged by this feedback:
    It seems like you are mistaking individual’s interpretations of Christianity with its actual teachings and merits. For example, this cherry-picking of scripture to excuse intermittent harassment of marginalized classes is very typical of the modern Catholic, but completely foreign to Catholicism itself. You know as well as anyone that Christ didn’t say “be cool with a few people and a dick to everyone else.”
    Without touching on Protestants, why do some Catholics treat people this way? Simply because the Church is abysmal at teaching its congregation what it actually believes. This problem exists at every level: Sunday School, Catholic private schools, adult education. I suspect it will be the Church’s downfall in another generation or two.
    You mentioned Leviticus in your post — it’s fair to do so, because it is so frequently referenced by the type of Christian who has only a nominal understanding of the scripture they’re citing. However, Mosaic Law was intended for the people and the time in which it was written, and Christ changed the game significantly when he gave us the New Covenant. Hell, he broke some of the old laws himself by touching the unclean and “working” on the sabbath day. I don’t know if URLs are allowed in this comment well, but if so, this is an introductory look into why cherry-picking Leviticus or Deuteronomy is a mistake: http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/why-we-are-not-bound-by-everything-in-the-old-law
    The historical abuse of indulgences is another example of a misunderstanding by Christian people — not a mistake of Christianity proper. (fun fact: indulgences still exist today, although they are not “paying for sins you plan to commit later.” That is actually a sin in and of itself known as “presumption”)
    You come to an intuitive conclusion in your post: Christians who don’t understand God’s love don’t understand much about Christianity. Maybe this comes as a surprise to some, but that conclusion is wholly compatible with Church doctrine. Catholicism doesn’t teach you to love others in order to escape hell, it teaches you to love others. Period.
    Or at least… they try. Mistakes and misunderstandings just seem all too human to avoid by best intentions alone. Perhaps if the Catholic Church were as good at subduing and controlling the masses as some people seem to think, we’d all be a little bit better-informed about Christ’s teachings.

    1. I understand everything here, I mean, I was a part of the system. I even went to Catholic school. Even then, I used to think it was odd how we touched on concepts of love, but focused on sacraments and traditions. It’s not that tradition is unimportant, but isn’t loving our neighbors more important?

      I almost went into what you say about Leviticus, but decided not to. I felt like it would make the blog post too long That, any many people will not hear that ‘Christ changed the game.’ They believe what they want to believe about the Bible, regardless of what the book actually says or even what their dogma tells them. Which is why religion does a poor job at controlling people.

      1. When it comes down to it, the typical weekly homily at a Catholic Church is going to be about love and forgiveness in some respect. It might seem peculiar, but I think that focusing so much on this aspect of Christianity ends up numbing us to it. It’s like hearing a platitude over and over again: “love your neighbor as yourself.” Everybody knows about it, nobody quite seems to pull it off. I think there is a lot to be said about those other, more abstract aspects of our faith in helping those who seek Christ to find him.

        Everything about the tradition and piety of the Catholic Church exists for very good reasons, but one actually has to understand those reasons for the traditions to be anything more than mindless repetition. Again, this is what I see as a major failing of the Church. They try to instill in us the impetus to engage in the sacraments, but they don’t ever convincingly tell us the reasons why — even though all the reasons are readily available in their own Catechism.

        Secondarily, you might notice my aversion to the idea that religion “controls” people. It’s a popular idea, because it is vaguely believable and difficult to disprove at the general level. Indeed, a lot of people let themselves be controlled by religion (or their idea of religion, usually). But then, a lot of people let themselves be controlled by secular things, too. It’s a human thing, not a religious thing. Overcoming these and other weaknesses is exactly what Christianity has always been about: avoiding temptation, taking the hard road when the world offers you an easy one, doing the right thing EVERY time. Most importantly: not looking down on other people who don’t follow your path.

        It can theoretically be explained in terms of love alone, e.g. loving yourself enough to avoid things that do you harm, loving your neighbor enough not to harm them, or what have you. The Church tells a more intricate story, and when it is told well, it is beautiful. My thoughts on getting through to people who have forsaken the meaning of their religion is to remind them of that meaning. Their conscience will do the rest, God willing.

        1. I think you’re right on the mark here. This is all why I think religion has the potential to do a lot of good. If people actually paid attention and the important aspects of a personal relationship with Divinity were built, there’d be a lot of good coming from religion. Unfortunately, when people follow blindly without ever thinking of any one tradition’s meaning, they can do a lot of harm. I mean, you can’t tell me a lot of this hate speech we see coming from people who claim to be religious is seen as a good thing in the eyes of God. This is why religion fails at controlling people, though. They can’t even control people enough to follow every tradition blindly because people tend to pick and choose. I hate the idea that people need religion to control us. Having a relationship with God is great, but religion is not God. If there is a need related to spirituality, it is for that relationship with Divinity more than it is for religion.

          I think you are right on the aspect of love. God is Love after all. Loving others, even those we don’t like or who disagree with us or who live lifestyles we think are wrong, is how we bring the presence of God into the world.

  12. I was not raised in a religious way, and was barely aware of it growing up, except to know it existed and that sometimes people used it as an excuse to hurt others. I had to form my own spiritual beliefs and eventually came to the conclusion that Heaven and Hell were not real, just manifestations in the afterlife of what we had created for ourselves in our physical lives. That death was merely the next step, and what lay beyond was of our own making. I remember telling my father this, and that he was upset by it. Despite our upbringing, and his own intolerance of bull@#%t he was a man of faith. And that, he did pass on to me, because I’ve never questioned the presence of divinity in my life, or that I am loved, just our interpretation of it. I never did figure out how to express it properly to him, but Dad finally came to the conclusion that faith was enough and that he didn’t have to worry about it too much.

    As for why fear doesn’t work so well to control people, well, you can only be afraid for so long before it becomes familiar, an old companion in the back of your head that fades away. People are too adaptable, we’re able to function through fear, and ultimately, learn to ignore it. Push it far enough, and we start to get angry. And if you follow the wisdom of Yoda at all, you kind of have to wonder, just how many lives have been destroyed by this constant fear mongering?

    And isn’t that a worse sin than almost any other we can name?

    1. Very true. It all starts with fearing what we don’t understand, which leads to hate. This reminds me of another post I wrote about religion restricting curiosity. We’re supposed to ask questions. It’s how we grow in everything. It’s how we invent new things and push humanity forward. When God forbids questioning something, people lack the ability to understand someone who has a different answer to a question than their church. There you have it, the fear of the misunderstood. It’s really no wonder we get a lot of hate speech out of some religions.

      That’s what’s so sad, though. I personally do believe in Divinity, but I focus on that personal relationship. To make a long story short, I realized that I was just going through the motions, worshiping a religion. In this way, I had lost any connection with Divinity. That is what I don’t like about the fear and the hindrance of curiosity. It prevents people from developing a closer relationship with Divinity. Shouldn’t that be a larger priority than all our traditions?

  13. Even a non believer when his child ass him for bread will not give him a stone. This is and example for the believers on how they should act. If we know what is right and do not do it, then at the Judgement will be treated more harshly then he who never believed. You are very correct in both your visions. As a Christian I know what all of the Scriptures say from over 40 years of studying them. This does not make me better than anyone else but when I preform an action that I know is wrong then then that is a condemnation to me and a bad example to those around me.

    1. Well put. One of the gifts I see as most important from God is free will. We have the freedom to choose or deny Divinity. As such, it is not the place of religion or any other human institution to control that will. Without out own moral code, born from within ourselves, how would we know when a religion is doing something wrong (not to say all religion is wrong, but that there have been religions which have done wrong)? We deserve the freedom to stand up and say “my moral code does not agree. This is wrong and I will not do it.”

      Besides, I would imagine reaching out to people with love, compassion and understanding would be more effective of bring people into a religion than the opposite.

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