Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a heart struggling not to judge and old thoughts that are amongst the hardest for me to rein in.
I had a fascinating conversation this week with a genuinely nice person who believes differently than I do. His religious views dictated most of our dialogue's path, which wound through politics, the media, morality, history and science -- but the central issue that I kept butting up against was his belief in hell.
The god who would create a hell and send misguided souls there for eternal torment strikes me as not really someone I would want to worship. Such a god may well exist (and if so, then I am in very big trouble), but it seems to me that faith in Him is inherently the result of extortion.
Now, my fellow conversationalist had of course an entirely different view, and insisted as Christian believers often do that everyone should view the path away from damnation as a loving and tender gift, rather than viewing damnation itself as an infinite crime perpetrated upon individuals vastly weaker and explicitly less wise than the perpetrator.
Given the sincerity with which he expressed this, I decided it might be a bit much to describe the goddess of love to him, and I conducted my end of the conversation from the perspective of a simple agnostic.
A whole raft of issues pushed me away from Christianity in my adolescent years: the hypocrisy, the intrusive moralizing, the intolerance for other views, the antagonistic attitude toward science, the history of violence and persecution by those who endlessly complain of being persectuted themselves. But the thing that renders Christianity incomprehensible to me today is the notion of an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful god who created a place of eternal torment to which even perfectly nice people go, by default, on the basis of our inherently sinful nature -- which is something that none of us chose in the first place.
I do not know whether the goddess of love is real in the sense that Christians claim their God to be real. But I do know this: she would never create a system in which the perfectly understandable failures of humanity were repaid with infinite torture.
As I've mentioned in previous entries, I am not here to entice anyone away from her or his own religion, nor to evangelize on behalf of the goddess. However, I will ask you this: If you believe in some deity who is cruel, vindictive, or spiteful, could you please at least consider the possibility that those characteristics have been wrongly attributed to your Ultimate Being? When we revere something that is jealous, that is petty, that engages in vicious revenge, are we not more likely to adopt those traits ourselves?
It may require you to decide that some of your scriptures are apocryphal, or that their language is purely symbolic, or that they have been written as parables of seeming paradox. But would we not all be better off if our greatest role-model for love did not visit unending suffering on lesser beings, considering that the power to rearrange the system lies firmly within his, her, or its grasp?