Thursday, January 01, 2009


According to the fabulous Judeo-Christian tradition, our one and only God has deployed  a reward/punishment system to regulate human behavior:

Behave well and receive eternal pleasure (heaven).

Behave badly and receive eternal pain (hell).

I'm not making this stuff up!

Christian preachers and artists have had much fun(?) enumerating and elucidating the multiform tortures of hell.


If God thinks that torture, or the the threat of it, is a good way to shape human behavior, then who are we to condemn it, or even to claim that torture doesn't work? To do so is to question God's plan.

According to cable TV documentaries, some early Christians known as Gnostics thought of Yahweh (the Judeo-Christian "God"), as a temporary and not all that lovable force, sort of like our sun.

We all live and plan our lives as if the sun will always be there, which is true for our practical purposes. Of course we know that the sun will eventually flame out and take our piddly planet with it.

So Yahweh seems permanent, but Gnostics and Hindus and Buddhists assure us: sooner or later the torture will end.

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The Blue Elephant said...

As the story goes, God also enjoyed torturing his own son. I imagine him watching as his son is crucified, angry that, like Prometheus stealing the gift of fire from heaven, Jesus is punished for bringing "God power" down into everyday life. Some parents are like that. You read about parental brutality everyday in the paper. One of these days I must get back to my play on that subject: JESUS PROMETHEUS. With your more detailed knowledge of the Church, perhaps we should co-author it. Someone gave me a Pulitzer Prize winner called GOD, A BIOGRAPHY, but I haven't read it yet.

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to figure out the pleasure of the Heavenly practice of singing hymns to God for an eternity when we can hardly tolerate them for a few minutes once a week.