Monday, March 13, 2006

Picking out my Handbasket

'Cause apparently I'm going to Hell in one.

I was informed at great length yesterday that I was doomed to hellfire. Not in a bad way or an angry way, but by a friend who was quite definite in expounding upon her religious beliefs which were quite clear that I would be swimming in the lake of fire. She didn't seem to think this was rude at all. She likes me, but I didn't really get the sort of sense that she was terribly upset about me doing the backstoke in a pool of lava.

This seems weird to me. If I really really believed someone I cared about was going to face such a horrible end, I'd be less concerned about talking about my own epiphany and more concerned about bringing about theirs.

I learned from my friend that I, in spite of being baptised in the Episcopal Church and educated in a Catholic convent with more religious training than is really healthy for a person, am not a Christian. Evidently, because I'm not a Baptist, I'm not a Christian. This came as a big surprise to me. Also, because I haven't been "saved", I'm going to hell.

Being "saved" or "born again" has always struck me as being a redundancy. I mean, how hard to you have to believe in something to make it part of your belief structure? You believe it or you don't. Unless you've been raised by wolves, it's likely that you have a passing acquaintance with the world's major belief structures. The whole "saved" thing strikes me as being oh-so-second century. Can't we move beyond that now? Like, it's 2000 years later. Can we please move onto something else past simple belief? How about "good works", "tolerance", or "kindness"?

Most people I know who have become "saved" or "born again" did so while whipped into a religious fervor surrounded by a church full of people and music. Their epiphany was spurred on and cemented in a mob full of people. It's easy to believe something when peer pressure surrounds you and echoes back your beliefs into your own ears. My experience with zealots of all stamps leads me to conclude that zealotry cannot exist in a vacuum.

My epiphany was in solitude. The only sound being the ka-chunk, ka-chunk-hiss of the ventilator that filled my lungs with air, keeping me alive. Somewhere, in that haze, I was aware of another entity with me. Someone who took the worst of my pain upon themselves.

My feelings were not of gratitude, fear or worship. I knew I was in the presence of the Divine. But all I could feel was concern. I was worried for God.

It's the same feeling I always get when confronted with anyone or thing who is hurt, depressed, lonely or grieving. It leads me to action rather than prayer. Not that prayer is a bad thing, but it's important to act if action is possible.

But since I'm most certainly hell-bound, I'm picking out my handbasket. I'm planning to avoid white since I really don't know if I'll be arriving there before or after Labor Day.


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