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Hellish

Posted by Roberta Grimes • September 18, 2021 • 33 Comments
Book News, The Teachings of Jesus, Understanding Reality

Love is but a song we sing. Fear’s the way we die.
You can make the mountains ring, Or make the angels cry.
Though the bird is on the wing, And you may not know why.
C’mon people now, Smile on your brother!
Ev’rybody get together, Try to love one another right now.
– Chet Powers (1937-1994), “Get Together” by The Youngbloods (1967)

The cruelest, stupidest, and most damaging idea that any human being ever has had is the notion that if you don’t obey God’s rules, you will spend eternity burning in hell. And it will be God who puts you there! God and His angels and all the good people who never once skipped church on Sunday will enjoy looking in from time to time and hearing you screaming as you roast, because you deserve what is happening to you. There are many sadistic variations on the hell myth, the worst of which I read decades ago and it haunts me to this day. A priest late in the nineteenth century was so frosted by the fact that some parents were not immediately having their babies baptized that he wrote a pamphlet for parents that announced what happens to babies who die unbaptized. I don’t recall most of what he said, but for sure those luckless infants go right to hell. And that isn’t all. Before their condemnation is permanent, after they have been in hell for a while, they are allowed to peek into heaven and see the children who had been baptized before they died all playing and laughing in a sunlit meadow. So those poor infant souls are going to know what their parents’ negligence has deprived them of as they roast in hell forevermore.

The people most terrorized by hell tend to be the sweetest and most earnest Christians. I get heartbreaking emails from Seek Reality listeners. And I met Ineke Koedam, a Dutch expert on transitional experiences, soon after the 2015 publication of her book  In the Light of Death – Experiences on the Threshold Between Life and Death. She told me that hospice workers often say that the people most terrified as death approaches are elderly Christians who have never so much as stolen a penny from a collection plate. But they had hell drummed into them in childhood, so they are desperately worried on the threshold of death that they haven’t been quite good enough so now the fires of hell await them. I haven’t been able to forget her stories, either. And we are told that fifteen percent or so of near-death experiences are hellish. Of course, near-death experiences are in the nature of dreams, they have nothing to do with actual death, but still it is appalling to know that so many people’s minds are willing to put them in hell. If this is what practicing Christianity can do to spiritual experiencers, to good-hearted parents, and to dear well-meaning church-ladies, then we would be better off without it!

In point of fact, there is no hell. There is no devil, either.  Those that we used to think were dead consistently tell us that neither exists; and a more accurate reading of the Gospels assures us that Jesus agrees with what the dead are saying. He encounters evil beings in the Gospels, true, but those beings by their descriptions are just demonish nasties, low-vibration gremlins that have no power at all.

The notion of a fiery hell where God will put us as punishment for our sins isn’t even remotely Christian! If you don’t believe me, then perhaps you will listen to our dear, wise friend, Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who heads the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. What I love most about dear Fr. Richard is that he tries to make traditional Catholic teachings more responsive to the actual message of Jesus. I know from experience how impossible that is. But I dearly love him for trying! Here is what Father Richard published last Sunday. I cannot improve on it:

Unfortunately, it’s much easier to organize people around fear and hatred than around love. Powerful people prefer this worldview because it validates their use of intimidation—which is quite effective in the short run! Both Catholicism and Protestantism have used the threat of eternal hellfire to form Christians. I am often struck by the irrational anger of many people when they hear that someone does not believe in hell. You cannot “believe” in hell. Biblical “belief” is simply to trust and have confidence in the goodness of God or reality and cannot imply some notion of anger, wrath, or hopelessness at the center of all that is. Otherwise, we live in a toxic and unsafe universe, which many do.

In his book Inventing Hell, Jon Sweeney points out that our Christian view of hell largely comes from several unfortunate metaphors in Matthew’s Gospel. Hell is not found in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. It’s not found in the Gospel of John or in Paul’s letters. The words Sheol and Gehenna are used in Matthew, but they have nothing to do with the later medieval notion of eternal punishment. Sheol is simply the place of the dead, a sort of limbo where humans await the final judgment when God will finally win. Gehenna was both the garbage dump outside of Jerusalem—the Valley of Hinnom—and an early Jewish metaphor for evil (Isaiah 66:24). The idea of hell as we most commonly view it came much more from Dante’s Inferno than the Bible. Believe me on that. It is the very backdrop of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. It makes for good art, I suppose, but it’s horrible, dualistic theology. This is not Jesus, “meek and humble of heart,” which is his self-description in life (Matthew 11:29). We end up with two different and opposing Jesuses: one before Resurrection (healing) and one after Resurrection (dangerous and damning).

Jesus tells us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), but the punitive god sure doesn’t. Jesus tells us to forgive “seventy times seven” times (Matthew 18:22), but this other god doesn’t. Instead, this other god burns people for all eternity. Many of us were raised to believe this, but we usually had to repress this bad theology into our unconscious because it’s literally unthinkable. Most humans are more loving and forgiving than such a god, but we can’t be more loving than God. It’s not possible. This “god” is not God!

We have talked here at some length about the simple physics of the base consciousness energy. That energy exists in a range of vibrations from the lowest, which is fear and rage, to the highest, which is perfect love; and we are learning that the physics of consciousness is as implacable and universal as gravity. Not only does the whole notion of hell and divine punishment altogether violate the teachings of Jesus, as Fr. Richard so well suggests, but it injects such fear into Christianity that it makes the use of the Lord’s teachings to elevate our personal consciousness vibrations effectively impossible. Jesus was born as God on earth in fulfillment of ancient prophesy, and His teachings are arguably the quickest and surest route to spiritual growth ever found. There is good evidence that He came to transform our relationship with God to the point where He abolished the very notion of sin! But still, the religion named for Him persists in making its core message the notion that God will not forgive us even for Adam’s sin unless He gets to see Jesus tortured and murdered?

The belief that sooner or later everybody gets to the Christian heaven is called universalism, or more precisely Arminianism, after the movement that arose in the sixteenth century in reaction to the born-predestined-for-hell nuttiness of Calvinism. Amazingly, the fight between Calvinism and Arminianism still goes on in a large segment of Christianity, even in the twenty-first century! We know now with certainty that there is one universal afterlife where every person ever born is eagerly welcomed and loved; but still, these fear-steeped, dogma-obsessed Christians must fight their hopelessly deluded battles.

There is no powerful devil, no hell, and no judgment by any religious figure. All that awaits you when you breathe your last is a stunning level of love and joy. And you can take that to the bank! So please, if you find yourself still troubled by the notion of the man-made hell that wiser Christian leaders should long since have banished, then give yourself a little break from church attendance. Let yourself at last come to know and love and perfectly trust the genuine Godhead.    

 When my husband of nearly fifty years heads out to attend Mass on Saturday evenings, he often says something about doing his part to keep us both out of hell. I smile and thank him. He has come far from the moment decades ago when he first learned that his good Christian wife was actually the world’s worst heretic! And he has opened up gradually to the possibility that what I have been learning since the day we were married, and what I now have the joy of teaching, might just possibly be right. I think I have helped him get past the terror that Christianity inspires in its followers. I urge him just to be open-minded whenever he makes his transition, and follow his mother when she appears, and he will be fine. But still, he hedges his bets. And I love him all the more for including me in his just-in-case Catholic Mass celebrations!

If you hear the song I sing, You will understand (Listen!)
You hold the key to love and fear, All in your trembling hand.
Just one key unlocks them both. It’s there at your command.
C’mon people now, Smile on your brother!
Ev’rybody get together
, Try to love one another right now.
– Chet Powers (1937-1994), “GetTogether” by The Youngbloods (1967)

Roberta Grimes

Roberta Grimes is an internationally recognized expert on death and the afterlife. Learn More

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33 thoughts on “Hellish

  1. Dear Roberta,

    Fully agree with your analysis here. I have never been able to rationalize what Jesus was telling us in the Gospels with the idea of a jealous, hard hearted God who required his Son to suffer as an atonement for our being born sinners in the Human race. How would Christ suffering on the cross exonerate any sins I owned? Why would the God of love engage in such cruelty? Just makes no sense.

    Re hellish NDEs, there is a good explanation possible from my research (published here https://scigod.com/index.php/sgj/article/view/730 ). What I found from detailed examination of NDE reports was that their experiences out of body were designed for education. For the great majority, the entire NDE is blissful beyond words, but for a few, they are shown how bad decisions are harmful and may rarely be tailored to be scary. Given the few folks that act as psychopaths, some souls apparently need more than love to consider mending their ways.

    1. Dr. Hiller: I read the article you referenced and was especially attracted to the part where you mentioned the “2nd Domain” where it was a medium for light and all who were there appeared as light beings. A few years back I read a book by Nancy Dannison called “Answers From Heaven” and she described herself being in a place exactly like this during an NDE after her team of doctors declared her dead. She was convinced that this was “heaven” and there were no other aspects of heaven except the for the one she was in. I don’t agree with her, but find it interesting that it matches up so well with your 2nd Domain theory.

    2. Dear Jack, indeed, the evidence suggests pretty overwhelmingly that NDE experiencers’ guides give them experiences intended for their edification. But the actual number of very negative NDEs reported – often including a fiery hell – is as much as fourteen percent! If this is all coming from their guides, then it’s crackers, since every one of those guides knows that there is no fiery hell. And every one of them knows that giving the experiencer a sharply negative, low-vibration experience is not going to be conducive to spiritual growth at any level.

      This issue of negative NDEs interested me at one point, years ago, and I researched and thought about it. I have come to suspect that the experiencer’s own subconscious opinions often play a role here, too. If he or she feels considerable guilt, even about things that you or I would consider to be no big thing, then the experiencer’s own mind might produce a hellish NDE.

      In any event, a negative NDE is like a clout to the head: it may be effective, but it is going to create substantial fear so it can do much more harm than good.

  2. Hi Roberta, hi everybody!

    The odd concept of hell-after-death is especially odd because some version of it seems to show up in every culture—whether it be “damnation” by a deity or by ourselves as our own master of choices. It seems to correspond to a notion that people “get” what they deserve, and that idea then frees up the rest of us to feel smug and call it justice.

    When in fact what everyone deserves is Love and Joy and Wisdom, and experiences and discoveries that enable us to grow in both.

    1. My dear Mike, this is an excellent observation! I have come to conclude that all of it comes from what we might deem humanity’s spiritual infancy, back when we knew nothing and understood even less. Back then, in our civic as well as our religious life, it was all about control and force, the notion that we had to be firmly controlled in order to even live in civilization. The Christian notion that humankind is “fallen” is typical of the humiliating way that all humanity was seen back then, in all cultures. It is no wonder that in the reset that Jesus came to bring one of the things He tried to do was to get rid of religions altogether.

  3. I had a church minister sitting in my lounge room seriously telling me that even people born before Jesus would burn forever in hell because they did not believe in him, as he was not yet born.

    Insane!

    Gerda.

    1. How did the church member explain how someone deserves to be condemned to hell if they didn’t believe in a person who wasn’t even born yet?

      1. He said something like “too bad, but that is how it is”.

        I did not think he took any notice of what I was saying!

        Gerda.

        1. Dear Gerda and Lola, what this fellow said is absolutely typical of the breed. They state nonsense as fact, and they don’t listen to objections at all since they have the word from on-high. Theirs is a pretty nasty god, but they have been taught that is who God is for so long and intensively that they are sure it all is real. They are to be pitied, but first they are to be shamed out of the marketplace of ideas because what they are preaching is so harmful to their listeners and so insulting to God!

    2. Oh my dear Gerda, how horrifying! This manner of thinking is so nasty, unblblical, and frankly God-hating that it is amazing that it still persists, but in fact it isn’t even that uncommon in some of the more rigorous Protestant circles. It is essentially Calvinist, the idea that God creates some people to be condemned to hell no matter what they did in life. I’m sorry you had to go through that, but very glad you could see how stupid it was!

  4. Seems to me that such any such person is not only wrong, but dangerous for lack of ability to reason about what might be right or wrong. Any minister with such incapacitated reasoning is surely dangerous, especially for raising children.

    1. Yes, dear Jack, any minister who preaches hellfire in any form is spiritually dangerous, and especially to children, and that goes double for those who try to convince people that even those who never have heard of Jesus are going to hell for not having heard of Him!

      But, still they are out there. Ruining lives every day.

  5. Hi Roberta! I agree with what you have said. However there is the matter of free choice. Do you agree that it is possible to reject God and not go into the light?
    Jesus took George Ritchie on a tour of pockets of souls who had rejected God – some due to addictions, others to work, and others to the pursuit of pleasure.
    This is not the “hell” of God’s choice, but the “hell” of humans free to reject God and not go into the light.
    Each soul locked in these pockets of earthly passion and rejection of God has an angel hovering above waiting for the person to change and go to the light.

    1. I read that book. and it is clear to me that addictions just don’t “go away” when a person dies. They stay around the earth plane to experience their addictions vicariously, so it is important to deal with addictions here. Nothing is more “haunted” than a bar, a drug “hangout” or any gathering that embraces these things. It is my understanding that they need only to sincerely ask for help, but this could take a very long time. No one is free of addictions just because they die.

      1. My dear Lola, exactly right. Every sort of addiction or matter-based obsession has the potential to keep us stuck here after death, at the mercy of our cravings. Bodily additions are especially dangerous, because there the craving seems to be still somehow body-based, or body-mind based, even though the sufferer no longer has a body. So they linger in bars and alleyways, waiting for some addict to alcohol or drugs who is under the influence to happen by. Being drunk or high apparently tatters the aura that normally protects us from being possessed, so then the addict can jump right in and apparently experience some of the feelings that it craves.

        Most dangerous addictions, though, seem to be not of the body but of the mind. There is some evidence that the most common addiction in terms of numbers may be sex, believe it or not!

        1. I think they were offered help with their transition like most are, but ran away from their helpers to stay here in physical life so they could pursue their old earthly pleasures, and they meet and hang out with others who share these desires. There are tons of these types of spirits roaming the earth

          1. Dear Lola, there are many different reasons why some people might choose not to complete their transitions (as opposed to the many who simply get distracted at the wrong time and lose touch with their deathbed visitors). Some do choose not to transition because they crave to feed their earthly addictions, true; but there are probably just as many who stay because they fear what might come next. Hell. Extinction. Religious fears and plain ignorance are a tremendous problem!

    2. Oh yes, my dear Charles, the evidence is very strong that our own beliefs and predilections can interrupt our transition and even detour us after death, so we will have to be rescued. Mikey Morgan tells us that this happens in close to 25% of deaths! And the reasons are many. Some get distracted as they are transitioning, and they lose their deathbed visitors so then they have no idea where to go, and they become earthbound. Some, as you say, refuse to transition for whatever reason, and they also become earthbound. Some don’t want to leave earthly pleasures. Some have a fixed idea of what the afterlife is like, so they end up in what Bob Monroe called a “hollow heaven,” with others who believed in a cloud with St. Peter’s Gates or a fiery hell, or whatever. All of these people will have to be rescued, and Mikey tells us that most are rescued soon after they go wrong; but still, it’s an awful thing to happen to anyone!

      1. They can only be rescued if they want to be, and my gut tells me that there are far too many who do not desire to be rescued – at least in the beginning. Hopefully, they may get bored when they find out that they can’t achieve the same feeling there as they did here. It’s scary and sounds like a total nightmare

        1. It is a nightmare, both for the earthbound addicts and for their still-in-bodies victims. We have accounts of it that could curl your hair! George Richie’s NDE (described in Ordered to Return) is one example. As with all NDEs, he went nowhere hear where the dead are, but he traveled around on earth and he describes a bar room full of discarnates hungry for a drink and waiting to possess people once they are drunk enough to weaken their protective auras. Fascinating and awful at the same time!

          1. I know. I had to read the book twice in a row because of how much it affected me. Since then. I have heard of many similar accounts, so I know this happens frequently. and thanks to fear based religions, many of these spirits are frightened out of their wits. It’s so much better to deal with this stuff while we are still here

  6. Hi Roberta. I have seen some absolutely horrific medieval paintings gleefully depicting all sorts of barbaric tortures being endured by hordes of “damned” people in hell. How many Christian folks were frightened by these disgusting works, or similarly terrifying sermons, into staying earthbound or stuck in some very low gloomy astral realm and may still be there all these centuries later? The Church sure created a lot of work for all the rescue teams trying to get people out of such situations. Luckily, fewer and fewer people are buying into that nonsense. However, I imagine the materialistic antispiritual nihilism or just plain ignorance of the spiritual which is becoming so much more rampant these days must be causing a lot of trouble too, and this planet has become such a cesspool of negativity to boot. I recall you saying that to those on the other side, this planet actually appears blanketed with negativity. It can become a huge planet wide negative feedback loop, and we’re seeing it manifest in so many ways. I hope this is just the darkness before some sort of new dawn. What will it take to turn the tide?

    1. Scott: What you said is so true. This planet is a poster child for negativity. I forgot about the old paintings, and we can’t forget the Inquisition which was sort of a manifestation of these paintings. It is time for clergymen to stop preaching about negativity and scaring people to death and start concentrating on how to bring more positive thoughts through

      1. Yep. Past time. But for clergymen in their churches to financiaally survive – now as well as way back then – they need a lot of people in the pews. And nothing fills those seats like FEAR! If people aren’t scared about what will happen if they don’t go to church, then on Sunday mornings – when it comes right down to it – they are going to turn over and go back to sleep.

        Perhaps you think I exaggerate, but in fact I understate the case. This whole idea of having a religion at all was born in primitive man out of his superstitious terror of being in a reality he had no way to understand, and as time went on it helped a lot to make up scary gods and placate them. That is what religions are, even modern religions, in every case. And because they are all based in fear, that is all they ever really can be.

        So if I tell you now that we have found the genuine Godhead, and you have nothing to fear because God loves you infinitely, then how – really – does that help you? So go ahead and rob banks. Everybody goes to heaven! Go ahead and lie and cheat. There’s no hellfire after all!

        The ultimate question for us to be answering now is how to make people want to interact with the Godhead’s spiritual truths for their good and for the good of the world when there is no fear-based reason why not to go back to sleep on Sunday mornings. Forget the need to find the source of consciousness as a scientific problem! Somehow finding the source of a non-fear-based spiritual drive is the REAL Hard Problem. And the future of the world depends upon our pretty quickly figuring this out.

        1. Oh no, you are definitely not exaggerating. If people could understand that all religions are man made and self serving, it would be a big step forward. There is a strong need to separate religion from spirituality, as religions are mostly based on fantasy and fear. As you said before, pews aren’t filled with free thinking people, but are filled with people who are downright scared.

          1. Yes, my dear Lola, but the problem is that people associate God so closely with religions. So for most people, if all religions are bogus, that has to mean there is no God. And the fundamental fact of all reality is that the Godhead is all that exists, and that Godhead effectively is US, perfected, but that feels too odd and unlikely to seem real to most people until after they have done considerable study of the matter. Getting all that is false cleared away and letting the truth shine is going to be essential if any real human progress is ever to be made; but it feels overwhelming to take away what we had thought were humankind’s spiritual underpinnings, even though we intend then to replace what is false with what is true. Do we have the right to do that?

    2. My dear Scott, this is very well said! I use the term “cesspool of negativity” all the time to describe the modern world, because what else can you call it?

      The awful negativity feedback loop that is happening now could take down human civilization. Thomas has made that clear to me. It wouldn’t even be that hard! And the only way to turn it around is apparently on the individual level. Governments cannot mandate changes in the human heart, especially when they are riven by negativity and corruption themselves. But we have the tools to raise the consciousness vibrations of each individual now living on earth. And it will be up to us to persuade them, one by one, to use these tools, both for their own happiness and for the world’s salvation.

  7. You’re right, Lola, and that they actually start focusing on the spiritual teachings of Jesus, which the world needs now more than ever. I’ve been given the impression that at the end of the 19th century, there was hope on the other side, maybe due to the flowering of Spiritualism, and more openness to comparative religion and spiritualty in general here in the West, plus a lot of work on the part of spirit, that humanity might be able to turn the corner and move into a brighter age, but we’ve seen what the forces of negativity brought us over the last 100+ years. Spirit kept methodically preparing the ground, though, and despite what we’re seeing lately, maybe another push to bring light to the world is starting to be orchestrated. If that is so, this might be more of a last ditch effort, because our technology is becomming so dangerous. If it fails, it could be a very long time, if ever, before there’s another chance. Will we need to be knocked back to some dark age and climb slowly back up again?

    1. My dear Scott, from what I can grasp of how upper-level beings see earth’s current problem, it’s something like a hothouse situation. Negativity is rare in most of reality, but it is very useful to us when we want to grow spiritually so it is cultivated here (and presumably on other planets). Yes, it produces demonish nasties that once were people who will eventually have to be rescued, but they are just a byproduct of what is a very spiritually productive negative environment.

      However over time, the negativity on earth fed on itself and became too strong. Then the wars and genocides of the twentieth century were both the product of negativity and the generator of even more negativity, in a hideous feedback loop that now risks our extinction. So they are retarding our weapons development while they send in an army to fight for spiritual elevation. If you are reading these words, then you are part of this army, even unwittingly. And we are coming together now. We have a world to save!

    2. You are right again, Scott. Technology can be very dangerous when it is in the hands of negativity and those who are power hungry. It is advancing at a rapid rate and could very well destroy us. Any changes would have to take place on a worldwide level, and with nearly 8 billion people on the planet, that would be quite a job.

      1. “Somehow finding the source of a non-fear-based spiritual drive is the REAL Hard Problem. And the future of the world depends on our pretty quickly figuring this out.” Reading those words and the two paragraphs preceding them sent a chill through me. I think you’ve nailed essence of the issue, Roberta. The spiritual answer may seem obvious to us, but to the sleeping, materially focussed masses it probably would seem pollyanish and foolish. This really is a devilish problem (pun intended.) 🙁

      2. My dear Lola, “With God all things are possible.” We must never forget that this is a completely rigged game! The Godhead has tremendous respect – even reverence – for human autonomy and free will, so we are allowed to get away with a great deal on earth, often to our own detriment. But we are protected from engineering our own destruction. Underneath are the everlasting arms.

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