Fear not

James Joyce depresses me. I am reading his Portrait of a Young Man as an Artist and he details the conversion of a young man to Catholicism. From a youth who had unbridled lust and resorted to prostitutes to satiate this lust, he became most pious and devout. A conversion almost miraculous in its transformation of the character. But here comes the depressing part. It was fear that first caught his attention to God. A palapable fear that he will burn in hellfire, burn forever.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 1: 17.

I understand that fear can be a good motivator, especially when exams are coming soon. I also believe that most Singaporeans suffer from a fear of failure, hence the kiasu-ism. But surely, God doesn’t want to scare us into believing in him right? That will go against the other verse of:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear.” 1 John 4:18.

Hellfire and brimstone messages are a dime a dozen. It’s the easiest weapon to wield– the threat and fear of eternal damnation. I heard Ben talked about what he read online, that for every 80 persons going to heaven, there are 8500 people going to hell. This is calculated according to who are Christians and who are not. Perhaps that’s why most Christians have a ‘superhero’ complex, trying to save the ‘lost’ at any cost.

I took that literally as well previously. It does nuts to your brain. Waking up and thinking that your friends’ or family’s blood will be on your hands if they are not converted. After a while (and I took a fairly long while), I decided to cool down. Maybe it’s not really hell. Maybe it’s some in between place, say purgatory. Maybe it’s not true at all. Cos it’s just not fair.

It was fairly torturous. The whole hell-and-heaven-that-lies-in-the-balance. Not very healthy too, honestly. Trying to scare people into believing only works for kids, who mostly believe in God anyway. It’s almost an intrinsic thing in kids. Other than children, it’s just a turn off.

And that’s the problem with religion. Religion and its truth claims cannot be separated. To quote from an article from the New York Times, they don’t want your respect, they want your belief.

Maybe to stem the tide of fear, we should all take a leaf out of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird:

“What I meant was, if Atticus Finch drank until he was drunk he wouldn’t be as hard as some men are at their best. There are just some kind of men who — who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.” Miss Maudie

9 Responses to “Fear not”
  1. Ned Stark says:

    As a matter of curiosity…have u watched Kingdom of Heaven? I find that its a rather underrated show. I like the way it deals with the questions of religion, tolerance, holiness to name a few.

  2. Hi Ned Stark,

    I didn’t get the chance to. Heard it was a good movie though. Will catch it some time in the near future.. Lol.

  3. marycherry says:

    it reminds me of the time sheena told me that i was going to hell because i was agnostic

  4. jill says:

    hmmm… but i don’t get it how does being agnostic relate to going to hell (in her line of reasoning, that is)? what’s sheena then?

  5. I feel like quoting marycherry’s favourite line: I’ve nothing to offer but my own confusion.

  6. People who believe that all non christians would go to hell by default rely on the sentence in the bible which says something to the effect of you who are not with me are against me. Thats what i got from wikipedia.

  7. jill says:

    Ok I’m Christian, maybe to some people I’m “fundie”, but back to the point. The bible (since it would be my frame of reference) does not state that non-Christians automatically go to hell.
    Yeah and I know you’re not the one saying that “you who are not with me are against me”
    just to be true to the actual words (well after translation from Hebrew), I quote,”if my God is for me, then who can be against me”
    ahhhh… the joy of being misquoted.

    haha and yes when all else fails, marycherry’s quote works

  8. Ned Stark says:

    Thanks for the clarification Jill, and not to worry i dun associate a christian with fundie unless evidence shows other wise 😛

  9. YCK says:

    Good news. The Vatican just decided that there may be no such place as limbo!

    Maybe one day someone would decide that there is no hell either. I am hopeful. Maybe that means that if we are all good people we will end up in heaven afterall 🙂

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