Just before the year ended, my friends and I had a week of nothing but fun and tequila. During one of our sessions, I was asked about my take on religion. Being intoxicated at the time, I gave them my answer.
For those who are curious, yes, I do hold religious beliefs. I am Roman Catholic by birth and on paper. In practice and philosophy however, I follow the tenets of Gnosticism (questioning the messages fed to us by organized religion) and Christian Universalism (that God loves and will save everyone; regardless of race, religion, gender or social standing). Yes, I guess that makes me a heretic but that’s not the point here.
For the non-Christian and non-religious people, I would like to apologize for the brief religious turn this article is taking but please bear with me here. I’ll get to the point soon enough. If anything, try focusing on the spirit (no pun intended) of this article instead. If you don’t agree, you can just say that I was drunk at the time and that I am now spouting nonsense.
Anyway, I will not bore you with the details of everything I said during those hazy nights with my friends nor will I include the arguments they presented and my counter-arguments. Instead, I will focus on my take on the Afterlife or the Hereafter. The place (or places) we go to after we kick the bucket. I don’t want to make this article too long (as it already is) so I will get to the most important: My take on Hell.
The question was, why would a Good and Merciful God send people to Hell?
Good question. If I remember correctly, this was one of George Carlin’s strongest issues with the idea of God. My answer to that is simple: God doesn’t. People send themselves to Hell because of petty issues they can’t get over even after death. My idea of Hell is a lot closer to C.S. Lewis’ in his novella The Great Divorce wherein salvation is within reach of the damned but they deny it anyway.
So get ready people! Strap in and take a tour of Grimwald’s Inferno!
My take on Hell is very different from the norm. No, I don’t believe in a big underground volcanic torture chamber with Big Red Devils. If anything, I believe that Hell is an ocean, not unlike the one depicted in Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come which was adapted into a movie with Robin Williams, the one where he rescues his wife from Hell.
Hell, from my own musings, is an impossibly vast and deep black ocean inhabited by barely-glimpsed but never fully seen demonic horrors in the darkness just below the surface and souls floundering about on its impossibly tall waves and in its crushing depths. A great, unceasing storm sends hail and howling winds down unto the surface of this infernal sea with the occasional lightning strike frying anything it touches. No vessel of mortal design can ever survive this sea for more than a few moments as it would easily be torn apart by the strong winds and crushed by the colossal waves.
However, all is not lost for the souls floundering on this infernal ocean. Roaming about on powerful rescue/war (the weapons are necessary for shooting the occasional demonic sea monster)/luxury ships are religious figures like Jesus, King David, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, Amaterasu, Krishna, Odin, Charles Darwin, the Flying Spaghetti Monster and many, many others. These figures and their mighty ships comb the waves and depths for any lost souls wanting to be saved.
The story now focuses on a lone soul floating on the surface who has been discovered by -insert name of religious figure here-. She was once a famous woman in real life but now she’s just another naked soul floating alone and cold on the hellish sea. Their conversation is as follows:
Woman: “Great, I knew there would be a rescue. I knew that someone would come to save me from this place.”
INORFH: “That’s right, I came to save you. Now come on, get on the ship. There are a lot of people waiting for you.”
Woman: “Really? Wow, they must be my fans!”
INORFH: “Not just them. There are a lot of others too. Your parents are there, they want to talk to you. Also, there’s Gina, Morton and Jude who are waiting for you.”
Woman: “Huh? My parents. They’re not exactly the people I want to talk to. They’re the ones who killed me.”
INORFH: “Ma’am, you committed suicide. YOU killed YOURSELF.”
Woman: “But they made me do it.”
INORFH: “They tried to reach out to you, you know. They wanted to help you but you wouldn’t listen.”
Woman: “How would you know? They were always gloating to me with their success. They kept trying to take me with them on ‘family trips’ saying they wanted to cheer me up. But I think they just wanted to show me how rich they were and that they ‘pitied’ me. Well, I don’t need their pity!”
INORFH: “Gina said something about you being like this.”
Woman: “Gina. Hmph! She’s just another bitch envious of me.”
INORFH: “She was your best friend.”
Woman: “Emphasis on was. She kept flaunting her boyfriend to me and when she caught me trying to make out with him, she hit me.”
INORFH: “It’s called ‘marriage’ and ‘happiness together’, not flaunting.”
Woman: “She’s just envious! And Morton, yeah, he’s another piece of work. And he’s gay! What’s a faggot doing in Heaven? I thought they were never supposed to be accepted in Heaven. Last I heard he married a guy named Dale.”
INORFH: “Yes, he did. He and Dale started an organization dedicated to providing food and medicine to children in undeveloped parts of the world. They almost went broke sending relief goods to the Philippines when Typhoon Haiyan came around. You stopped being friends with them when you saw that they were no longer interested in parties and that they had less and less money as time went on.”
Woman: “Yeah. They were always like ‘we gotta help the kids in Africa’ or crap like that. And wait, you said the name ‘Jude’. That guy was one of the people stalking me.”
INORFH: (sighing) “Yes, the man was obsessed with you. However, he later on learned to move on with his life. He became a painter and his first recognized work was a portrait of you. He also managed to find a family of his own and be happy with what he had.”
Woman: “Know what? I don’t think I wanna go with you.”
Woman: “You heard me. If those are the people I expect to welcome me then never mind. I think I’ll stay here.”
INORFH: “You’re not kidding are you?”
Woman: “Nope, if those are the people in Heaven then I don’t want to go there.”
INORFH: “But you’ll be safe there and you’ll have a chance to make a meaningful relationship with those people.”
Woman: “My good-for-nothing parents, my ex-BFF Gina, that faggot Morton and that creep Jude. Nope, I think I’ll stay here.”
INORFH: (disappointed) “You’re sure.”
Woman: “Positive. Besides, they say that Michael Jackson might be around here somewhere. I just might get the chance to meet him.”
Massive engines rumbling, the great ship departs, leaving the soul, now smiling smugly to herself, behind.
The soul is completely unaware of a colossal tentacle breaking the surface of the water behind her…
Okay. There you go. I apologize again for making this article a little too religious and sermon-like.
So what was the point of this religious rant you may ask? Well, the attitude of the woman mentioned above is not really so different from quite a few Pinoys I’ve met.
I once met a woman who refused to work just because a person she hated shared the same office with her. A lot of people often prefer to be right rather than be happy. I’ve seen people abandon the opportunity to better the country simply because they don’t like the people they are working with. It’s a sad fact but self-righteousness doesn’t really make one righteous at all.
Among the seven deadly sins, the worst of them is pride because, essentially, it removes a sense of accountability and responsibility on the part of the sinner. It invites them to have a sense of entitlement (to believe that something rightfully belongs to them even if it doesn’t) and self-righteousness (to insist they are always right in a given matter).
To improve oneself, the first step is accepting one’s mistakes. We must acknowledge that we are all fallible and frail human beings with limits in order to find a way to work with and around said limits. By understanding our mistakes, we can better understand where we went wrong and , from there, make amends and make right where we went wrong.
When forced to take on a difficult situation such as working with people you don’t like, it’s best to think the following:
You’re not doing this for them anyway. This is for everyone, including you and the people around you. That you’ll be working with people you don’t like just shows that you’re willing to make mature decisions.
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