HOME page>                  NEW STUFF page> 
          WRITING CONTENT page>       GUEST ARTISTS page>Home_1.htmlNew_Stuff.htmlEssays.htmlGuest_Artists.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3


John W. Pinkerton


I recall when I was a young fellow, a couple of Jehovah Witnesses came knocking at our door.  They began preaching the value of a belief in their religion as a guarantee to acquire access to Heaven and the avoidance of Hell.  I responded that I considered churches’, not just Jehovah Witnesses’,  pushing this view was a form of bribery and that I wasn’t a enthusiast of bribery.  Of course, I expressed this in a kind, Southern way.  However, the two seemed a little befuddled as they departed from our door.

They really seemed confused by the expression that I doubted my belief or nonbelief in an afterlife was relevant.  If when I die, there was an afterlife, that would be wonderful as long as it’s the Heaven version; if when I die and that was the end of me, I’d never know it.

I do not want to upset those who believe in a Heaven and a Hell as the reward one receives for a belief in a particular doctrine or pledging faith to a diety.  Usually they see themselves rejoining their loved ones in Heaven.  I can get behind this belief because it is a wonderful thought and may even be true.  I do not wish to change anyone’s beliefs; I simply wish to write my beliefs primarily to see what I think.

At this point I suspect you’re beginning to believe that I do not believe in God…that I’m an atheist or at least an agnostic.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am absolutely certain in this faith.  I pray, not often, but with a deep belief that my message is delivered.  As to what God does about my message is up to God---He’s the boss.  The one thing that I’m sure about God is that I know nothing except that he exists.

I view all religions as earnest efforts to connect with “God.”  However, formal religions are all flawed; all are touched by the hands of men.  Some world religions need a little tweaking…many need a lot of tweaking.  Personally I am a pietist…one who believe that the formal church is not necessary to have a relationship to God.  I feel no need to criticize those who are great supporters of their churches.  When I die, I expect to have a Christian minister to conduct the funeral service.  Linda, my wife, would expect this.  The community would expect this.  The formal church does some things very well: funerals is one of them.

I have no objections to agnostics or atheists.  Even if they question or deny the existence of God, I doubt they will be condemned to Hell…if Hell exists…for their questioning the nature of the universe.

The afterlife is pictured in different ways by the world’s religions.  Take your pick.

Buddist believe in reincarnation and karma.  The ultimate goal is to rid one’s self of desire to free one from this cycle.  Nirvana refers to the liberation of escaping the cycle.

Hindus have similar beliefs: the “Atman” is the unchanging soul of the individual.  Like the Buddists, they believe the Atman is trapped in this world by the laws of karma.  Nirvana is being rewarded with nothingness.

Those of the Jewish faith primarily focus on the here and now and their religion has little to say about an afterlife which leaves it open to interpretation: Heaven, reincarnation, resurrection at the return of the messiah.  Hell is also ambiguous, but modern theologians limit the time spent there by the wicked to about a year.

Islamist believe death is the end of the physical life and the beginning of a rest awaiting Resurrection when Allah judges the living and the dead.  If one is judged worthy, the Quran is pretty specific about the nature of heaven: a garden, couches, climate controlled, crystal goblets…etcetera.  Heaven is depicted in a less specific way but, of course, includes fire.

As for now, I am a Christian who does not believe it is my burden to figure out if there is a Heaven or a Hell and their natures.  In good time, all will be revealed…or not.