Graffiti Wisdom – fire and brimstone

During my childhood, part of my religious indoctrination included what punishment I would endure if I didn’t embrace, and properly execute, the tenets of my familial faith ~ if I didn’t receive Jesus Christ as my Savior, I would burn in hell for eternity.

That this one decision, to believe or not believe, would determine if someone is condemned to a fiery afterlife. And as taught to me – all regardless of that person’s religion, or lack of.

For a kid, it was the stuff of nightmares. Today, as an adult, it’s a concept that eludes me on many levels.

My grandparents’ hell, a vision of fire and brimstone with a pointy-taled, horned red devil occasionally poking the damned with his triton pitchfork, is a singularly selfish version, don’t you think?

The suffering is mine, the damnation is mine. While there may be other tortured souls languishing in a molten pool beside me, there is no connection, no empathy, or camaraderie.

As in life, there is a certain level of pain, of suffering, I could endure. Beyond that it’s still mine alone to carry, even if I’m witless. My friends and family may love me, may pray for my soul, but they can’t take that pain on as their own.

I can’t wrap my head around the idea that such infernal punishment would last ‘forever.’ At some point, wouldn’t it become all I knew, therefore lose it’s punitive nature? Not that hell, if real, would be rational or adhere to reason of thought.

For that matter, I’ve never heard of anyone who had a near-death experience where that ray of light led to a furnace. It’s highly unlikely that everyone experiencing a paradise visitation at the brink of death is a practicing Christian.

My idea of hell is not that of my grandmother. It’s not a place, an existence, where I would be sentenced to after my death ~ only then discovering my immortal destination. But, rather I think we live our hell while we are on earth.

My version of hell is played out throughout my life. It’s watching those closest to me suffer – those whom I love more than life – and I am impotent to ease their pain. That is Hell.

I’m curious about other religions’ perceptions of  hell. Is there one thing that will consign a person to hell, or is it the totality of a person’s life?

* Yes, I realize that technically this billboard is not graffiti, but I went out of my to get a photo of it, so humor me…

** The verse cited on the sign was Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  [NIV] I’m not a biblical scholar, but this doesn’t prove the existence of hell to me.

9 thoughts on “Graffiti Wisdom – fire and brimstone

  1. Looks like on the same hellish page, lol. I sometimes believe this is hell, or maybe what we think of as hell, but I think we’re here to learn lessons. Of course I can’t explain all that in a little comment, but in a nutshell, that’s what I think. I think the hell might be coming back to do it over and over again until we finally get it right. :o)


  2. I’m Jewish, and Jews are expressly forbidden from contemplating the afterlife because it would distract you from being good in this life. Adult men study Kaballah in groups of ten starting at age 40, but only some men.

    I can’t imagine worrying about eternity, and I really can’t wrap my head around kids worrying about eternity.


  3. I believe in heaven and hell- what scares me is purgatory. How could a place like that really exist? I guess I’ll find out some point in my life that a place like that is there, but hopefully I’ll bypass it and go straight to Heaven and be there happy and healthy with those I love.

    I don’t know what it is about Faith but it always has me wondering if it really is worth wondering about.


  4. For the last year or so I have really questioned all faith.. and I never understood how my mother could believe that the nice little jewish couple..or the christians preaching on tv were all going to hell because they were not catholic.. I just shut my mouth now and let it all go overmy head.. I try to live a good life.. and hope that i will be rewarded if there is an after life


  5. Personally, there are too many supporting scriptures in the Bible for me not to believe that there is a hell in the afterlife. The Bible also states that this earthly life would not be easy or a cakewalk. If this life were perfect, why would there be a need for Heaven. Peace comes from the One who Saves. That’s what I believe.


  6. I have heard many things over the years about hell, but the most plausible to me was the definition that hell is to know what you had done and where you could have been while forever stuck without the ability to attain it. And alone. (which I guess means hell is pretty darn big)


  7. When I was a child in grade school, some priest or nun told us that in hell, you would suffer with that part of your body with which you had sinned. Talk about the stuff of nightmares. And it didn’t do much to encourage me to accept that or the other “truths” they threw my way.

    Today, I think your definition of hell is far more believable, and hellacious.


  8. You make some very valid points. Personally, I worry a lot about hell… whether my choice not to practice the faith I was raised in, or any other number of my failures will put me there. All those years of having that drilled into my head still makes me carry that childhood sort of fear. But mostly, I tend to agree with your idea that hell is often the here and now.


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