Highway to Hell
Hugh and I attended a funeral this morning. Now, funerals are, by their very definition, sad. They are even more sad when, like today, they are for a 56 year old man who, by rights, should have had at least another 25 years of life ahead of him.
While we knew that our friend, let us call him “Bob” for the sake of this blog, had, and I quote, found Jesus and been saved, we didn’t fully appreciate just how deep his devotion ran until this morning as we sat in one of those business park churches which dot much of inland Orange County.
It was a touching memorial… his brother spoke eloquently about their childhood and Bob’s younger and crazier days… his longtime pals told stories of a carefree youth… his daughter brought a tear to everyone’s eye as she thanked her father’s wife for the love of Christ she had instilled in him…
A DVD played with photos ranging from his birth to just a few weeks ago… quickly carrying us across the years… a darling toddler with Santa, a teen dressed for prom… a proud new father…
And then the needle scratched across the record as some Jr. Pastor sort stood up and did a combo sales pitch of fear at the assembled as he reminded us that if we hoped to see Bob again, if we hoped for eternal life, we better, right now, in our seats, tell Jesus Christ that He is our Lord and Savior that we are mere sinners who DESERVE to go to Hell.
I kid you not.
He went on and on and on… Bob’s dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Nothing we can do for him now but not to worry as he is in Heaven because he ACCEPTED Jesus. Now, the rest of you, well, you are going to Hell and if you die, there is nothing anyone can do to help you because you DID NOT ACCEPT Jesus. Don’t think you can live a good life of generosity and compassion… if you have even one impure thought you are a SINNER and you are GOING TO HELL.
Sorry Jewish friends. Too bad for you Buddhists. So long Muslims pals… enjoy Hell.
I believe there are many paths to God. I believe that there is a right and a wrong way to behave and the tenets of good behavior do not vary from religion to religion. Every faith brings with it it’s crazy dogma of old, it’s zealots, it’s blindly devout… but the essence of Faith, that there is a Power greater than ourselves, that we are not alone, and that we are ultimately accountable to a moral code of humanity… well, that is the same.
I leaned over and said to Hugh, “I don’t like this man…” and then brazenly checked my texts in a childish act of Going to Hell defiance. Turns out a friend a few rows away was trying to drum out the fire and brimstone by singing Rolling Stones tunes in her head… good to know I wasn’t alone…
And I guess I can count on at least one friend in the firey hereafter.