Tag Archives: spirituality

Speaking of Heaven

I have not heard from the theologian who cast doubt on the possibility that those who commit serial sin (he was referring to homosexuals, I was thinking war mongers, money changers and churches that cast judgment) will see heaven. I think I know the answer to the question: yes, they will know heaven. They will also know hell. We all do.

My understanding of existential reality tells me that time is extremely fluid and relative to the immediate experience. A minute can be a moment or a millennium, depending on whether you have a limited time to be with someone you love or you’re sitting at the traffic light at the junction of IH-10, Fredericksburg and Woodlawn.

Feels like Heaven, Feels like Hell
There will be moments that pass immediately, only to be remembered forever – the first time ever you saw her face. Moments like that are pure heaven – complete focus on a blissful experience. Then comes the moment you last see her face – grown cold, hard, vengeful. May you never know such hell, but you are likely to come upon your own.

The virtues and cautions embedded in our holy writings and the best of our secular canons can indeed, carry you to heaven. No human experience contradicts the wisdom to know God, honor parentage and love your neighbor as yourself. Do as the good scriptures instruct, and you will know more bliss than blisters. You will have love in your soul and nothing to trouble your heart.

“Or Else”
Indeed, fail to live up to this standard, you know – be human, and you will experience negative consequences. “Treat the Earth and all that dwells thereon with respect,” the Native American 10 Commandments. To the Commandments of all faiths, I would add “or else.” Because if you steal, or kill, or use sacred language profanely, you will experience excruciating consequences. If the system discovers your crime and prosecutes with jail and other penalties, that hurts. But even in the event that no one else knows of your crime, it does not go unpunished. Your consciousness is damaged and no matter how desensitized your heart may be, the Shadow pays you back with Hell.

We do little heavens and hells all day long. The big ones mark us. We may be taught, and live to redeem whatever big sin, but we remember it. And we are certain to know the weight of a grandbaby in our arms, quiet evenings with close friends, spectacular sunrises and other spiritual oases that remain with us for the rest of our days.

The Flashback Dance
Before I died in May 2010, I would talk about “The Flashback Dance.” Knowing that time is relative, I imagined that a person’s last moment of consciousness must seem to be an eternity. If, as reported, one’s “life passes before my eyes,” that last moment will be filled with heavenly memories or hellish recall.

My experience in 2010 did not match the myth. Despite the “Real Story” I have no memory of the moment of death. But then, I am not dead – despite the indications that may have appeared on the instruments of the EMTs or emergency rooms that attended to me (again, I have no memory of this), I came back to life, the incredible medical team at North Central Baptist stabilized me and brought me back all the way to full capacity. So, my lack of a Flashback Dance is no proof that it doesn’t happen.

No Need to Wait – Heaven and Hell are at Hand
As I went through old journals yesterday looking for material for a new edition of SavajCards, I lived through some heavens and hells all over again. I recognize the value of Hell, how it does what it can to indicate how off-track we can get. I don’t want to live through another one, not as big as some of those, so I’ll watch my path and heed the lessons, whether inscribed in a bible or taken from experience.

Mindin’ My Own Morals
One thing I’m sure I won’t do – I won’t tell you where you’re headed, heaven or hell. It’s none of my business, and I am in no position to judge. I’ll warn you if I see you approaching a cliff – I’ll support you in acknowledging yourself and seeking your true bliss, but I’m not tellin’ you what to do or what it may bring. And I suggest that Dr. Gagnon and his students follow a similar policy – mind your own morals (just a suggestion).

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An Open Letter to a Fundamentalist Theologian

Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon
Associate Professor of New Testament
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Dear Dr. Gagnon:

Today on All Things Considered, you said that your fellow Christians in the Exodus program that sustained a relationship with the Lord after discovering that they could not be “cured” of their homosexuality should not expect to be redeemed in the eyes of God as long as they continued in homosexual relationships.

“The problem is, you can’t assure people that are engaged in serial, unrepentant sin of an egregious sort that they’re going to be in heaven,” you said.

I have a question.

My government engages in serial, unrepentant war. Today, commenting on a story about a family decimated by an American air assault, one of our officials said they conduct targeted, “legal” assaults against persons – with grudging regard and regret for collateral damage to neighboring families – deemed terrorist threats by some sort of undisclosed due process. I am not sure which of the people involved: the pilots or the commanders or the defense department or congressmen, whomever, but they seem to persist in this sin. If they seek forgiveness, will they find a welcome at the Pearly Gates?

And then there are these bankers – they might even be members of your church – that obscure credit terms and manipulate other people’s investments such that usury is committed and theft occurs. They do this with serial consistency and I do not know whether they have repented or not, but they sure resist any regulation to limit their inequities. What are their chances of a reward in heaven?

And, Dr. Gagnon, there is in my country an institution, a church proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, Teacher of Grace. This church, in many denominations regarding themselves as carriers of fundamental truth, spends great energy condemning. They condemn not the war mongers, not the cheating money changers – they condemn people who, by nature or nurture, lifestyle or genetic formation, have a different orientation. This institution, this church, commits the sin of judgment with serial, unrepentant venality.

Could you please explain this to me, for the God I grew up to worship created all things, loves without limit and sent his only begotten Son to liberate us from envy, spite, hate and bigotry.

I look forward to your clarification, for my heart is somewhat troubled by your testimony this afternoon.