Sunday 12 April 2009

An Easter message to everyone, but primarily to fundamentalists...

... of all persuasions. I do not know what will happen when I get to heaven. I am fairly sure that I will meet my maker. What will happen next? I will suffer an extraordinary pang of monumental guilt for the things that I have done and not done. It will not last a moment. My knowledge of physics makes me sure of that; the chief ingredient of time is limit, and God is beyond limit, so I am sure that when I meet him, it will be outside time. So my pang of guilt will probably take no time at all, though it will equally probably encompass the whole universe. The guilt is there because he knows all that I have done and not done, and I can no longer hide from it. And then, I think, he will welcome me. He will say, "You have let me down, but you can still stay".

So I think. There are quite a few million fundamentalists, Christian, Islamic and of other kinds around the world who are certain that this will not be my fate. They intend to meet their maker, and I will apparently not be there, because I do not share their particular version of certainty. That applies to all sorts, not just to Islamic ones who blow people up because they do not agree with them, but also to Christian ones who murder doctors whose practices they disagree with, and think they have the right to beat their wives, to Jewish ones who flatten other people in their tanks, to Hindu ones who think it is justified to murder Christians, and so on, and so wearily on. So this message is addressed to them. I do not flatter myself that this blog is the first stopping place of those of the fundamentalist persuasion here there and everywhere, but perhaps it will get noticed somewhere by someone, and if I sow a tiny seed of doubt in the mind of even one person of fundamentalist persuasion, then this post will have done its work. Because one thing I am sure of is a lack of certainty in this life and about the next, and those who think they have certainty do not in fact have it. What they have is tunnel vision.

So if anyone of a fundamentalist mindset is reading this post I ask them to think of what will happen when they enter heaven. Virgins to right and left, pots of honey, mango dip, nectar.... Let me just suggest a different possibility. Read on, don't be scared. After all, you know you're right, so what harm can I do?

You will get to heaven. You will probably experience the same monumental pang of guilt as me (after all, even fundamentalists aren't perfect.) And then God will welcome you. But what he will say to you will be different to what he says to me. To you he will say, "What on EARTH did you think you were doing in my name?" Then, I think, you will feel a cataclysmic pang of guilt. He will say, "You can stay", just as he says it to me. He will say, "The virgins are over there". (Fundamentalist heaven seems to be primarily male and therefore one assumes that the virgins are female. But I think the fundamentalists will be surprised to find that the virgins are of both sexes.) "But first", God will say, "I want you to come over here and meet all the people who you killed, and maimed, and executed, and slaughtered, and beat, and tortured, and crippled, and disfigured, and scarred, and made miserable, and blocked in their life, and passed by on the other side, and mocked and belittled, and enslaved all because you did not read my beloved [insert here Bible, Koran, Torah, Veda, text of your choice] properly.

"You tried to trap me in the words. Me. I who exist beyond time and space, beyond language. You were determined to see me in the words. Did you never think to look through the words rather than at them?"

And then, it is my profound hope, you will feel ever so slightly foolish.

God will say, "Go and meet those people now. It will take you a long time. It will take you forever. And ask them, humbly, to share my heaven with you."

Still certain?

1 comment:

Brent R Jones said...

I guess you would label me as a lapsed fundamentalist. I still believe the basics of Christian faith but never with any absolute certainty. My model is Jesus who I do take as my Lord. Only 2 principles guide me 1) Love God 2) Love People.
My main passage for meditation, especially in Church is Luke 18:9-14
with the "sinner" I say only "God, have mercy on me a sinner."

Here is the complete passage:
(NIV) To some who were confident of their own righteousness and
looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the
other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about
himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers,
evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast
twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look
up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me,
a sinner.'

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home
justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be
humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

You understand sin and guilt. Only humility yields righteousness.