Thank Grog It’s Firday!
I am really cracking up with some of the dialogue in this update. It is pretty funny, and frankly a bit “Hell lite,” compared to what they could be doing. I mean, hell…even as a concept…is pretty damn scary!
The great thing about Hell, is that for you to believe in Hell, you pretty much have to believe in the afterlife. Even that is a complicated thing, when you start trying to bring different concepts from different religions into the conversation. And you really do need to do that. But, trying to settle on a common theme can be a bit of Hell itself.
In fact…right away, I had some fun with “Ned Flanders Personal Hell,” when I won it. I found it irresistible to place it in the one place that would actually really be Hell for Ned…
I placed it at the opening of my version of “Parallel Heavens.” Being a super devout Christian as Ned is, the one thing that would be “HELL” for him, was finding out that there was more than one version of Heaven. But there he ends up, standing near all sorts of options, including the Alien Nativity.”
In fairness to good old Ned, I did a quick refresher on other versions of Heaven and Hell. I had studied them in a “comparative religion” class back in my college days (while trying to avoid more mundane required classes). But it was good to see if any of them had changed course over the past almost 50 years.
They hadn’t. But then again, a couple of these religions have been around a lot longer than Christianity.
Just to start with the closest version to the Ned’s faith, there is the Jewish version of Hell. By definition, “Sheol” is described as a region “dark and deep,” “the Pit,” and “the Land of Forgetfulness,” where human beings descend after death. The suggestion is that in the netherworld of Sheol, the deceased, although cut off from God and humankind, live on in some shadowy state of existence.
While this vision of Sheol is rather bleak (setting precedents for later Jewish and Christian ideas of an underground hell) there is generally no concept of judgment or reward and punishment attached to it. In fact, the more pessimistic books of the Bible, such as Ecclesiastes and Job, insist that all of the dead go down to Sheol, whether good or evil, rich or poor, slave or free man (Job 3:11-19).
OK…so good, bad, indifferent, you are going to end up in Sheol… maybe.
And maybe, if your “Sheol” is like my version…it is like some of the anxiety dreams I have, where I am back at school…and have to do a speech, or sing in front of an audience…and have no idea what I am supposed to say or sing.
I placed my “cursed desk” in front of the “hellementary school” as a reminder to this fear…just a stone’s throw away from the megachurch where the Patriarch is busy trying to buy his way into Heaven.
On the other side of the spectrum we have the Muslim faith. Their version of the afterlife is a bit more complicated, but perhaps more promising than Jewish beliefs.
Akhirah is the term for life after death. Muslims believe that
no soul may die except with God’s permission at a predestined time (Qur’an 3:145). This links with the belief of al-Qadr. Belief in life after death is important within both Sunni and Shi’a Islam as it relates to both the six beliefs of Islam (Sunni) and the five roots of Usul ad-Din (Shi’a).
Muslims believe in the concept of Paradise (Jannah), which is where people go if they have lived a good life. Muslims also believe in Hell (Jahannam), which is where people go if they have lived a bad life or have committed shirk.
Once the soul has passed this stage, it goes on to the Day of Judgement, where it is judged by Allah. When they are judged, Muslims have to accept the consequences of how they behaved in their life.
At least here, there seems to be some sort of reward for living a good life. So Ned would likely pass muster into Akhirah, as he is generally the nicest guy in all of Springfield.
And while there are countless other versions of the afterlife, with countless other sects, religions, and even those who don’t believe in God (I’ll get to those in a minute), you have to acknowledge the Buddhist version of the “ever-after-after” life in a discussion like this. I got this from a site that should be called, “Ask A Buddhist.” As it is mostly just a lot of answers to common questions about Buddhism. Very helpful.
Do Buddhists believe in a heaven and hell? Yes. And no…. No, Buddhists do not have a heaven or hell in the sense of something in the afterlife. There is no reward or punishment at the time of death.
Yes, Buddhists have the concept of the universe that we call Samsara which describes the world we live in and it refers to this life (not an afterlife).
There are Six Realms of Samsara. In each Realm, there are beings who dwell among:
- Heavenly Beings
- Human Beings
- Ashura (Fighting Spirits)
- Gaki (Hungry Ghosts)
These are the Realms that we are constantly migrating through in our present life. One moment, we are filled with goodness and dwell among the Heavenly Beings. The next moment, we may be angry and dwell among the Fighting Sprites. (Which I am going to assume is the “Hells”…#6?)
Buddhism always has been concerned with this life. While we are alive, we have to seek Enlightenment. The Buddha taught that knowing where we came from or what happens after death should not take up any of our energy. (Which explains why Lenny and Carl spend so much time at Moe’s and not the Temple).
OK. So, it’s mostly about how you live your life NOW…HERE…and not worrying about having to spend your next life fighting sprites.
I admit that I look at all of these with some sense of interest…especially as I am much closer to “the final chapter” now, than I was back in college. But, having had an NDE in the mid-1990s, along with a bit of a glimpse of what I perceived to be the afterlife, I came away with a different version of heaven and hell.
There are loads of physicists who get stuck in the definition loop of “where does our energy go, if energy is eternal” (which they believe to be true). Does that residual energy retain a sense of sentient intelligence along with some semblance of our personalities? I don’t have enough space in 50 posts to cover that one.
I tried once…a long time ago…but, as I get older, and live more life, I move away from some of what I believed/perceived from that experience.
I did immerse myself into the writing of one Scientist/Physicist type, Thomas Campbell (no relation to Joseph) who tried to make sense of it all with his book(s) titled My Big TOE (Theory Of Everything). There was actually loads of things he wrote with which I agreed…but, he also went way down the rabbit hole of quantum physics, with a ton of “What Ifs” stated as fact.
If you want a taste (please make sure you have your safety harness firmly strapped) you can go to his forum…which is populated with loads of his “followers” asking questions. But, I warn you…some of this stuff makes QAnon sound feasible. https://www.my-big-toe.com/forums
The best part about the concept of Heaven and Hell…is that nobody really knows the answer. Nobody has ever come back…even those like me, who have had Near Death Experiences. The word “near” mitigates the entire conversation. Sorry.
The single fact, is just like your choice of religion, or your choice to not follow one, is just that…choice. And without question, it is that gift of “Free Will,” that is truly the thing that makes our human existence so interesting and varied.
If you threw all of the great religious texts together into a giant word/concept blender, the end result would pretty much be the same. The question comes down to how much “faith” you have in the final concoction you are drinking. (And yes…I am avoiding references to Kool-Aid out of fairness to those who like Kool-Aid).
It doesn’t matter what you believe. What matters is how you live your life, here in Hell. Oops… yes…I went there. Many folks believe THIS is hell. I’m not that fatalistic.
Perhaps the best versions of “Heaven and Hell” are of our own choosing…and unfortunately, our own making. It is perception. And one could certainly make a case that this existence is merely a version of “Purgatory,” “Barzakh,” or just one of the loops of learning in the Buddhist version of gaining enlightenment. I would have to say that personally, 2020 pretty much defines a bit of “Hell.” But, it sure as hell could be could be worse!
No matter what you believe…my guess is that all of us are hoping for a tad bit less of the “current hell” that we are living. As long as we KEEP living…right?
Heaven, Hell, and anything in between…even one of Thomas Campbell’s parallel realities…WE CHOOSE how we react. And for me…it’s with a smile, that occasionally turns into a grimace…but comes back to a smile again, with a sense of HOPE for the future. Because, if there isn’t anything better than this in an afterlife, I’m going to be very angry that I spent so much wasted time, trying to figure it out!