This has been brewing for a fair bit now, so I'm just going to set it down.
If your religion makes you scared...you're doing it wrong.
Case in point, a friend of mine wanted some medical attention, and had to go to a free clinic. They didn't do much but what she had already done, but then gave her some "information". One would think they'd give her info about her medical question...but no, what she got instead was Christian propaganda pamphlets.
I have a somewhat secret fascination with them, and have a few really good ones I've collected. I read them as two people...one is the long term pagan that laughs behind her hand, "ROFL...that's awesome! They're really stupid!" The other is the person who could be affected by these words, and more often than not comes away as unsatisfied with their proposed answers as I was the twenty or so years ago when I discovered I wasn't Catholic.
Of these two that my friend gave to me, one was pretty innocuous. "Is Witchcraft the Way?" tells the tale of a nice woman who was a witch for many years (point in their favor...she was a nice, kind woman who was just looking for spiritual meaning. Not some psycho, blood sacrificing, nut job or emo, dark spirit raising, goth wannabe that's usually in these anecdotal accounts), then she started having problems with bad spirits and dark energy (you know...the stuff the rest of us deal with all the time, right? *rolls eyes*), and eventually a very nice Christian man told her "the truth" and she's ok now, cuz she's Christian.
Meh...whatever. Oh, but I did like the part where she's told that the spirits of the elements were actually devils in disguise. How tricksy of them...
Anyway...it was the second one...that was the treasure trove find. This nasty piece of work was called, "First Six Days in Hell", and is supposedly a literal account, extrapolated from Biblical references on what it's going to be like for you when you go to Hell.
And it assumed you would...so you'd better get ready with this handy guide. It was horrifying, my morbid fascination with these things was really stretched with this one...the burning torture that was described, along with the deep, soul crushing inevitability of it, it was truly a piece of work.
Of course, if you just "accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior" you can escape going to Hell and never experience what was described.
My question becomes, "Who wants followers that are there out of abject terror?" This isn't just fear that they're trying to evoke. This is deeper, primal..."if these are just the first six days, imagine what an eternity would be like"...some of these images are the stuff that night terrors are made from.
No thank you...I'm good.
How is this acceptable? How is this ok to do? In what sense of morality is it acceptable to terrify people into following a god that is supposedly all good? Jesus gave us one commandment, "Love one another as I have loved you." Where is the love in that pamphlet? Really?
I find this sort of thing irresponsible, and hope that most people just throw it in the trash, not reading it without the philosophical and spiritual protections that I and most of my friends have.
It's not enough to be good because you're afraid of punishment. One should be good, because it is the right thing to do. Pamphlets like this don't help create good Christians, they create fearful people without an inner core of ethics. Sometimes they're more damaging than those who do wrong because they want to...at least you can predict their behavior.
I know it's not my usual blog fare, but I hope you've made it this far and at least got something to think about. I'm not condemning Christianity as a whole. There is beauty and grace in the religion and if being Christian helps you to be happy and good, then I celebrate that. No, it's the desperate fear mongers that I am pointing my finger at hoping that one day they are forced to wake up and understand that using fear doesn't attract good followers, just other fearful people.
I choose another way. And so should you, whatever it may be.
Till next time, be well,