Sunday, May 20, 2012

Good God!

I have been saving this one ever since I stumbled across it a while back. Good God! is the unbelieving astonishment being expressed. It's also subtle theological statement about what I consider to be the nature of the deity. S/He is good, i.e., has nothing to do with the chastisement of the creatures S/He called into existence out of . . . purportedly (as I've been taught and learned) . . . love. This sort of background is required for you to truly grasp my disbelief when I read in the NY Times that the Catholic Church is on a campaign to revive indulgences. Indulgences! What are they going to reinstate next? Burning heretics at the stake? Going to hell for fried chicken on Friday? What? You don't know what indulgences are? Really? (Actually, I'm flattered if you have never heard of indulgences . . . that proves that this nearly 70-year-old blogger has readers under 50. So happy you're aboard!)

So indulgences. You can read the article, but I'll give you a more colloquial read on it. Okay. So you have these after-death places: heaven above and you have flaming hell below. And in between . . . it's not clear where . . . you have purgatory.  Imagine this place like a dingy Greyhound terminal waiting room. It's ugly, has a water cooler that's unsanitary-looking even if it works, and has nothing but grungy, uncomfortable benches to sit on. We're talking about a way-station here. A temporary stop on your way to a better place. That's purgatory. And why are you in this damned (sorry, force of habit) awful place? Because, dude, you were bad when you were alive. And God demands that you pay price if you have gone though the proper procedures to get forgiven for these bad things, sins, to put it in the argot. For more on this, see below.

The price you pay God if it were a really bad thing is hell, baby. You will burn in unquenchable torturing fires forever, as in longer than when every star in every galaxy in the universe burns out. In fact, beyond the time when every star in every galaxy in all the alternate universes to this one burn out. Forever is one long frigging time.

But even if you didn't do anything really bad, you still have to pay. The God who called you into existence out of love is not satisfied till S/He sits you in the Greyhound terminal till S/He's ready to see you. That, brothers and sisters, could be a day, a week, or a year, or several thousand or conceivably, million, years, depending on what bad things you did.

And here I have to remind you of something the Catholic Church doesn't want you to forget: you don't even make it to the Greyhound terminal unless God forgives you your sins. And how is that effected? Why, via one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, the sacrament of penance, commonly called "confession." That's where you go and recount your sins to a priest, who as a representative of Jesus (i.e., God), bestows God's forgiveness upon you in a proxy operation.

[Enough! Geez. I didn't realize this theological disquisition was going to be so long-winded, so I'm going to have to ask your indulgence (har, har!) for taking a break. I'll continue this tomorrow.]
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