As promised, here is the story that my grandmother fed me with countless time, about the time she met Jesus and the angels. I will tell it with as many details I can remember, I will try not to let too many things get lost in translation.
She was a child, among many siblings. One day one of her brothers had eaten the cream that their mother had prepared for dessert and blamed it on my grandmother and she first finds out that she has been wrongly accused right after supper when her mother tells everyone “I’m sorry, but none of us can have any dessert tonight because Mary (not her real name) has eaten all the cream”. She received many angry looks from all apart from the guilty party who had a smug look on his face.
She felt helpless, it would have been her word against his but now that her mother had been convinced and now voiced it out in front of the whole family they were all convinced she was guilty. She went to bed and cried.
That night she heard a voice call her name. She looked around and all her siblings were sleeping so she tried to go back to sleep herself when after a while she heard the voice again and, just like before, all her siblings seemed asleep. Wondering if someone was pretending to sleep to mess with her she tried to ignore it but the third time (always in threes, huh?) she heard it, it also added “come out”, so she followed the voice and left the house. Out in the street she saw a beautiful man stand with his arms spread out in a welcoming gesture, and although there were no light sources he was well lit in the middle of the night.
She realized this man was Jesus. He showed her to a rope-ladder and invited her to climb it and she did, all the way to heaven.
And she saw the most glorious city of gold full of beautiful angels, who were all welcome and they all wanted to play with her, so they played all-through the night until she was too tired to continue. The angels assured her that the next time they would meet, she would not have to worry about ever feeling tired again. And they carried her back down to her house.
I remember her telling me this when I was very young and even when my religious doubt was just a spark in the back of my head I had trouble swallowing it. I guess I figured it was the kind of thing you tell a child to convey a greater meaning rather than a telling of a true event. However, she kept telling me the story every now and then, insisting that it is true, and her voice goes high as she tries to describe the wonder and glory of the event that occurred to her… and she still does! I am thirty years old now and she still tells me the story as if expecting me to take it as literal truth. It is the cringiest thing in the world, I don’t want to call her a liar and I don’t think she is one.. It seems like she really believes this but that forces me to think that she is completely batshit insane! One cannot even blame old age, because she has been telling the story for at least 25 years!
And even if I go into my most agnostic mode and try to accept that these things can against all expectations be true and depend on an element of physics we have not yet discovered there is one part of the story that just ruins even that outlook.
A rope-ladder to heaven.
Seriously. A rope ladder.
How high up is Heaven? Did she climb in her pajamas? Wouldn’t that be cold? And what kind of prick is God if he can let people fly up or send an angel to carry her but instead he drops a rope-ladder for a child to climb?
There is no way out of this. She is either a liar or insane. Or I am insane and the bible is true… I seriously doubt that third option.
I am about to describe a problem I have been struggling with lately. We live in a multi-cultural world and just because someone is not an atheist like me I should not assume they are any less of a human being than anybody else. I have had discussions with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Pagans and in all of these religions I have found people who’s company I have quite enjoyed.
I am aware that this problem does not include every one of these, just a few of the religions and even then not all of the subscribers to those faiths but it is quite a common theme in at least two of the big theologies.
I, like most native Europeans, have had the most experience in dealing with Christianity. The other day, when talking to a friend of mine who is a Christian, something struck me and it made me feel uneasy about being near this person and indeed, it made me feel uneasy about every Christian I have ever met.
There I was, chatting with a person who was smiling, laughing, being relaxed while in the back in his head he truly believes that when I die I will go to hell. I will be tortured forever. When I have endured suffering and torment beyond that of human comprehension for millions of years, I will still have an eternity to go and I will not even have death to look forward to. This will be my punishment for not boosting the ego of a supreme being.
This person, who is currently enjoying my company and calls me his friend, is perfectly fine with this. He thinks this is the way it should be. He can look at me and think “Yes, this is a nice guy, but he will be tortured forever and ever, and this is good.”
I am sorry, I am trying hard to accept people from all walks of life but this is a frightening way to look at the people around you. I mean, what a frigging A-hole.
And yes, I know that some Christians claim to find it tragic that some people go to hell, but they still worship the deity that put this system in place so no, you will not be spared the A-hole label just because you can shed crocodile tears.
I am a bit shaken up actually, to think that so many people are in favor of eternal torture for what is essentially a thought crime makes me fear for humanity. I don’t mean to be this hostile to any one religion but I am having a hard time letting this one go. Someone please help me figure this out, in my mind the world is suddenly full of monsters.
One last thing. If anyone wants a good definition of the word evil… this comes pretty close.