“Religion has convinced people that there's an invisible man...living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn't want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time.
"But he loves you.”
Time for the heathens to weigh in.
I'm fed up with religion; actually, let me rephrase that—I'm fed up with religions.
This may offend a few of you, including some of my friends and Platinum-Club-level family members, but what the hell.
Good heavens, did I just say "hell?"
This morning, CNN.com, in one of its Sunday-paper-inspired cover features, posed the query, "Should we abandon the idea of hell?"
Hunh, what do you think? Sounds great to me. By abandoning the idea of hell, does that just make it go away? Sure, we'd run the risk of allowing Hitler and Bundy to pack up and move north for eternity, but if I knew heaven was a given, I'd be okay with the occasional awkward sighting of Jeffrey Dahmer at the St. Peter's Gate Mall Hickory Farms.
In the piece written by Frank Schaeffer, New York Times bestselling author of the book "Crazy for God," Schaeffer posits that hell has been fabricated by man as the ultimate fruit of revenge, yet ironically, the stress we create through our nurturing of resentment and vengeance contributes far more to our own demise than our enemies' downfall.
So, yeah, seams like doing away with hell might lead to a few less evenings sucking down equal parts Ben & Jerry's Heath Bar Crunch and Smirnoff''s Liquid Stress-Be-Gone.
I probably would've stayed blissfully mute on this subject if the column weren't followed up by the opinion of a man for whom I feel such vitriol, I'd be willing to keep hell open past closing time so he could attend the afterparty.
His name is Mark Driscoll, and he's the founding pastor of a cash cow here in Seattle known as Mars Hill Church. It's a rapidly growing enterprise in the western United States, whose business model involves attracting youngish followers with hip technology and informal, stubbly-faced Sunday brunch-time services.
Yet if someone were to ask me which post-apocalyptic baked good most closely resembles Driscoll's message, I'd say it's probably a a poo-filled Twinkie. Beneath the fluffy goodness that pulls people into his church lies a dogma which preaches the evils of gay rights, women in leadership roles, and...
yoga. I'm not kidding. He believes yoga is evil. And not just hot yoga.
I've written about this guy before. So when I again read the blatherings of some dude who uses religion as a way to control people while enjoying an aristocratic lifestyle, it's pretty hard not to call bullshit on everything which lies under his bigtop of douchebaggery.
How materially different is America's Christian right from those Muslim folks across the water who consider a North Face vest both a fashion statement and a highly explosive trip to paradise, where everyone on eHarmony is a high school sophomore girl with freshly waxed calves?
Each religion lays claim to the truth in all caps, and any infidels will pay dearly, like really a lot, like hangnails that never heal and everything smells like your old dorm's stairwell.
Why do we live this way? I understand the opportunism of those who seek to exploit and the need for their followers to find comfort and reason in a highly unreasonable and unfair world. But do we really have to elevate things to this level, to tell each other, "Look, dude, I love your food, especially that yogurt-based stuff served with lamb and pita bread, so I really need to get the recipe from you before you die and spend eternity getting your intestines pulled out with plastic salad tongs."
I'm ready for hell to die. Are you?