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Heaven/ hell

(262 Posts)
Cheekyandfreaky Sat 05-May-18 23:36:59

I was listening to a ‘this American life’ podcast about a priest who was denounced as a heretic because of his ideas about Hell. He essentially came to a realisation that he didn’t believe the way hell was written in the bible and decided instead that humans create Hell and it exists here in the world we live in (the example he cited was the genocide in Rwanda).

I am not religious, I don’t believe in anything and have been very staunch in my non-religious beliefs, but, I found myself nodding. What if we are in both heaven and hell right now? I feel like I’m going mad just thinking about it because I’m not s Christian and the faith I was born into doesn’t acknowledge the existence of either but I feel like I believe something all of a sudden.

I guess I’m wondering a) could we be in heaven and hell right now and b) have you ever randomly felt like all of a sudden, out of nowhere that you believe something? C) does this belief even prove anything, I mean I don’t really know what to do with it?

headinhands Sun 06-May-18 01:49:11

Life is hell for some people. What I don't agree with is that there's any divine reasoning behind it.

speakout Sun 06-May-18 06:49:49

, I don’t believe in anything and have been very staunch in my non-religious beliefs, but, I found myself nodding. What if we are in both heaven and hell right now?

I find that conflicting. If you are a "staunch" atheist, then why do you think such concepts exist?

Vitalogy Sun 06-May-18 06:58:41

I agree with him.
People interpret the bible in all sorts of ways, mostly incorrectly. Which of course isn't helped by the editing of it.
Sounds like you've had a dawning/realisation, seeking the truth. Trust your instinct OP. The devine truth can be found wthin.

picklemepopcorn Sun 06-May-18 07:13:36

I think that we are made with a spiritual impulse, and we are happiest when we identify how to live with that. You have found a concept that makes sense to you, and can explore it as you wish. Life is full of uncertainties, things which are hard to define. It's ok to rest in a little ambiguity and accept that you'll never know for sure.

picklemepopcorn Sun 06-May-18 07:15:16

As vitalogy says, the bible is open to interpretation- it was written by people with the limited understanding of their time and culture. It hints at truths, rather than defining them.

Cheekyandfreaky Sun 06-May-18 10:24:53

Thanks all, I’m really grateful for the range of responses, it’s helpful to process all this.

@headinhands I understand this, I honestly generally think this way but I guess what chimed with me was the idea that we create Hell seemed to just click something deep inside that just shouted ‘yes’.

@speakout I really don’t know, I think that’s why I posted, it’s crazy for me that I’m even thinking this way. I’ve forced my husband to have several conversations with me about it and it feels like the more I talk about it, the more all of a sudden something is there.

@Vitalogy I’m not sure what to do with it, but I agree with trusting instincts. I don’t really want to participate in any organised religion but I do want to explore it on my own in some way.

@picklemepopcorn the ambiguity thing normally bugs me and has always been my major reason that there’s nothing for me to think about in terms of belief but all of a sudden I don’t care. I don’t know everything but I know something iyswim.

My family background is Sikh, and although there is no mention of heaven or hell in Sikhism to my knowledge, the overlap for me lies in my thoughts following on from what I heard. So, if we create Hell and I honestly believe some moments in life are just so beautiful that I can’t imagine a heaven that can top them, then maybe the devil and god exists within all of us and nature. The overlap here is that in Sikhism there’s a belief that god is everywhere and in all things.

I really don’t know, when I look back at what I’ve written I can see for me even a week ago I would have just thought that I was just seeking a truth from thin air and that here I just seem like I want to believe in something. I promise you I don’t, I really don’t feel I need to believe in anything but I do. It’s genuinely helpful to talk about it because I don’t really want to bump into someone who will try to talk me into joining something but I do want to talk about it, so thank you for your responses once again.

WiseOldElfIsNick Sun 06-May-18 19:49:32

What is it that you want to believe in? I think that's an important question to answer so that you can explore the arguments on both sides of the fence.

picklemepopcorn Sun 06-May-18 19:50:46

It's ok to wait. Keep looking and listening and see if something else resonates.

WiseOldElfIsNick Sun 06-May-18 19:52:10

<quote>People interpret the bible in all sorts of ways, mostly incorrectly.<\quote>

And what would be the correct way of interpreting the Bible?

Walkingdeadfangirl Sun 06-May-18 23:52:05

Even the Pope has admitted there is no hell.

speakout Mon 07-May-18 05:53:03

Walkingdeadfangirl the pope is not the ultimate authority on Christianity or the bible, He is one man- no more than that.
Some past Popes have done terrible things.

picklemepopcorn Mon 07-May-18 06:31:16

Hell, as I understand it, is separation from God.
The Hebrew 'Sheol' was the crevice outside Jerusalem where they burned rubbish- a very unpleasant place! Disclaimer- it's a long time since I studied, so I may have misremembered.

speakout Mon 07-May-18 06:38:26

Hell, as I understand it, is separation from God

Well then that must be a good thing.
Because the bible shows that god is a particularly nasty individual. A spiteful, wrathful jealous being in need of some anger management. He is murderous, homophobic, genocidal and misogynist.

I wouldn't want to have a coffee with this guy never mind share eternity with him.
So if hell is separation from this nut case then get me a ticket.

picklemepopcorn Mon 07-May-18 06:45:00

I'm not biting, speak out. You don't get to tell me who my God is.

speakout Mon 07-May-18 06:51:01

picklemepopcorn I have read your bible,

Even the "word" of god admits he is wrathful, jealous, his heinous deeds are documented in your holy book.

It's there for all to read.

PatriarchyPersonified Mon 07-May-18 09:09:58


Unless 'your' God is one you created for yourself, then the God Speakout is talking about is your God. The one described in the Bible. The one who committed genocide on numerous occasions, the one who killed an entire nations worth of first born children to prove a point. The one who thinks slavery and rape are ok. That one.

Teacuphiccup Mon 07-May-18 09:20:09

I’ve always thought of it as a place inside yourself, I know that sounds cheesy but it’s the way I understand it.

If it was a place on Earth then what’s the point in it? People in the Rwandan genocide didn’t have that happen to them because they were bad, and people experiencing lovely things in life don’t get there because they were good. If you take away the morality side of it how is it heaven and hell rather than just a horrible place and a nice place.

My interpretation is that heaven is love and hell is hate.

MyTeapot Mon 07-May-18 09:30:23

Hell is the motorway on a sunny bank holiday Monday <gavel>

picklemepopcorn Mon 07-May-18 10:16:29

I'm sitting on my thumbs to avoid derailing OP's post.

PatriarchyPersonified Mon 07-May-18 11:47:56


I'm sitting on my thumbs

As opposed to just not having a response...


Cheekyandfreaky Mon 07-May-18 11:49:26

Apologies all, my intention isn’t to provoke a fight. Peace and love.

@WiseOldElfIsNick I don’t know that I want to believe anything but maybe something must be there subconsciously. I think I might just let my thoughts just marinate a bit and see where it all goes. As I said earlier I don’t want to join any religion, I think it helps just to discuss the thoughts a bit to make sense of them. Sorry, probably not helpful.

@picklemepopcorn I think you’re right, I will just see where it all takes me. I am feeling positive about it which surprises me as I’ve always felt strongly that nothing exists and it’s annoyed me when for example my mum has had so much faith but not been able to explain to me exactly why. So it’s weird that I don’t know anything more but all of a sudden I’m open to it.

@Walkingdeadfangirl that’s interesting, the priest/ reverend (so ignorant, I can’t remember) who said that hell didn’t exist in the podcast was vilified but that maybe because they weren’t catholic perhaps.

@speakout @PatriarchyPersonified surely the entity you speak of is the one written by the probably privileged men of the time? Even today one could argue that that section of society is still quite prejudiced and therefore would always produce a ‘god’ that benefits only them? I don’t know if I believe that god is necessarily separate from us, what if our free will and our actions are the embodiment of good and evil? What if what we hate in god is actually what we hate in each other?

@Teacuphiccup I think that’s what I think too (so many flakey ‘think’ style statements sorry!) in relation to heaven being love and hell being hate. I definitely don’t think the victims of the Rwandan genocide deserved it. I wonder if sometimes for some people to experience forbidden joy (eg. Excessive wealth) others need to experience hell (exploitation etc).

@MyTeapot oh dear, I hope you’re not there! We decided to just stay at home to avoid exactly that.

Teacuphiccup Mon 07-May-18 12:01:21

I wonder if sometimes for some people to experience forbidden joy (eg. Excessive wealth) others need to experience hell (exploitation etc).

Hmmm I’m not sure excessive wealth could be described as heaven, I think the urge to keep getting even after all your earthly needs are met could be described as a sickness, like a thirsty man drinking sea water.
Look at Donald Trump, he has every last thing a man could want, is the most powerful man on the planet and yet he doesn’t seem happy. That looks far more like hell than heaven to me.

I think under the current system we have then in order for some people to have excess then some other people must suffer, but if we were all content to live with just what we need and we focused on making other people happy rather than inwards at our own sense pleasure, then we would be able to achieve something far more heaven like.

picklemepopcorn Mon 07-May-18 12:11:48

You're a deep thinker, cheeky!

I'm with teacup, I think. Though not on the motorway, thankfully!

I don't know what happens after death, and that is not really relevant to my faith. I can only choose how to behave now.
Feeling 'right with God', furthering His kingdom, is about serving the people around me, addressing injustice, listening for the prompting of (what I call) the Holy Spirit to direct my attention where it is needed. When I do those things I feel a sense of comfort, a peace, that striving to be richer/more famous/more successful than other people doesn't bring.

I believe all religions are limited in describing the divine by human language. Ancient texts contain truth and wisdom, but are products of the time and culture which created them. I've used my terminology, which is christian, to describe my experiences and understanding.

Tickety7 Mon 07-May-18 12:36:20

Yes, I have suddenly just started to believe in Jesus after being completely set on my non belief that anything exists my whole life.

Last year I was with friends watching a Christian movie. It was a true story and I felt in that moment, Jesus revealed Himself to me. Not in a figurative way. Just in a way that something finally clicked inside of me and I felt a warmth I had never felt before.

It's likely that God has done the same thing for you. Sometimes He comes to us in the most unexpected ways. He knows us all so personally and knows what will just "click" inside all of us. Sometimes it can be so random. grin

As for the whole heaven and hell thing. It's not something I can fully comprehend - but I do in sorts agree with this guys.

I often explain to people that I feel God lifted me out of the pits of hell. I am no longer there. I feel at such peace with my life through the good and the bad now. He has saved me.

So yes, I understand the whole heaven and hell thing. I think when we are separated from God, it's part of it.

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