Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Heaven vs. Hell


The idea of hell has always frustrated and fascinated me. Fallen angels. God versus the devil. Good versus evil. Sinners, redemption.

I went to Catholic school from 5th grade until I graduated high school. I went to Sunday school, studied the Baltimore Catechism. I had my First Holy Communion, was Confirmed and was baptized in the church. You would think I would know this stuff, but I don't. My BFF is practically a walking encyclopedia on religions.

What got me started was reading an article on evil. Not bad people doing bad things. Not even good people who snap and do bad things. Evil. So, I am going to confess to my ignorance regarding this subject. Did God make hell? Growing up, the nuns would tell us all about mortal sins and roasting in hell fire for eternity. ETERNITY. It was absolutely frightening to me. Some of the sins that were mortal sins seemed pretty easy to commit. Rebelling against your parents?? Jiminy, doesn't everyone on the planet rebel against their parents? Why would that send you to hell. Okay. Maybe that isn't true anymore. I know they changed the rule about babies who died without being baptized going to limbo.

I really would like to know does religion teach that Satan is equal to God? They battle for the souls of man? I know the idea is that God does not send people to hell, people commit sins that by default send them to Hades. By the way, wouldn't Satan like having all the bad people in the world down partying with him? I mean a big part of me likes the idea of Hitler roasting in hell and being tormented for his sins. But why would Satan PUNISH people? He likes bad, enjoys evil, delights in torment. Wouldn't it be God who does the punishing?

Maybe I should have paid more attention in Sunday school. Those nuns were scary though. I remember Sister Benedict. She was the principal at my elementary school. One day, I guess the teacher in our 5th grade class was absent, so she came in to teach us. Sister was a cranky old lady. She had the long black habit, a long rosary hung down from her waist, and she always seemed to be in a bad mood. She was asking the kids something, probably about what the teacher had been teaching us. I wasn't paying attention. She blathered on and on. I was reading a book at my desk, I think it was "Christy" by Catherine Marshall, my favorite book at that age. I was totally engrossed turning the pages as fast as I could when all of a sudden, WHACK! I got nailed in the head by Sister Benedict. Sheesh. At least I never had to stand with my nose against the chalkboard with gum stuck to my nose. (Gum chewing was definitely discouraged.) I am also very glad I did not have to have my mouth washed out with soap. Our bathrooms had liquid soap and I am sure it tasted terrible.

And don't get me started on uniforms and oxford shoes and wool skirts and itchy knee high socks and stations of the cross and confession and......Sigh. How many Hail Marys will this be?

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