“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
This is one of my favorite quotes! I am one who most definitely agrees with Gandhi and with the combined words of Thomas Banyacya, Alice Walker and President Barack Obama –“We are the change (or ones’) we’ve been looking (waiting) for”! In my initial post I talked about how I have tried to recollect exactly what it was that tipped the iceberg for me and resulted in me having the courage to question, doubt and re-evaluate everything I’ve been taught to believe about God and all those things associated with God. After reflecting on my experience I realized that it hasn’t been just one single event, experience or circumstance but rather several of them over a long period of time – each one just chipping a little bit more away. So today I attempt to start sharing about one of those iceberg tippers. They will be in no particular order but shared as I am reminded of them so here goes ;-)!
It was a couple of years ago after reading Gandhi an Autobiography: The Story of My Experiences with Truth that I was sitting thinking about everything I had read about the life of this amazing human being when a very saddening thought formed in my mind. This thought of course was formed by my life experiences beliefs about truth (i.e. the word of God/the bible/Jesus — these things are/were the truth!). The thought that quickly surfaced (like rote memory) to my mind was the unfortunate “truth” that “Gandhi went straight to hell”!
You see, I like most all the Christians I know have been taught very well that it matters not how good a person may be or what good the person may have done in the world when it comes to life after death. Goodness and positively impacting the world is not the pre-requisite for gaining salvation and thus making it into heaven. We’ve been taught very clearly that the only way a person will see God and go to heaven saved from an eternal hell complete with damnation, fire, demons and of course the god of this world – satan himself, is by the grace of God and the belief in ones heart and confession of ones mouth that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Christians are taught to believe that Jesus (God wrapped in the flesh) was sent to earth to save a lost humanity and to reconcile men back to the creator and loving father God in heaven who is awaiting the reunion of such sons and daughter to join him for an eternity in heaven’s paradise! (Hmmmm…as a child hearing this which one would you choose?)
I clearly remember that day after going through this thought process that my mind just wasn’t satisfied with this hell-bound conclusion about Gandhi. Sitting on the horizon was another thought that came to mind though not as pushy and strong as the first one but rather quiet but resolute like the shining sun of a bright new day. This thought was “hmmm…I don’t really believe Gandhi went to hell”! And with that I started to begin re-evaluating my whole belief system about heaven and hell. I no longer was afraid to purchase and read “The Gospel of Inclusion” a book written by Carlton Pearson, preacher turned heretic according to fellow Christian believers (sidenote: it was an interesting read but not the direction I want to go today ;-)!
Anyway, I wondered if people ever really looked at the big picture of what it is they’re believing about who is going to heaven and who is going to hell. For example, do people consider the fact that the current world population figures calculate that there are around 6.6 billion people in the world. If you look at the world population by religious beliefs you’ll find out that there are roughly between 2.3 – 2.5 billion Christians worldwide. At present research shows that Islam (not Christianity) is now the fastest growing religion having between 1.1 – 1.27 billion followers. Hinduism comes in at third with between 828 million to 1 billion followers. Just considering these sheer numbers alone indicates that according to what I was taught to believe about God, most of the worlds’ human population who God created is headed straight to hell.
Would a God who is believed to be “Love” really be OK with the majority of humanity suffering this fate just because of a difference in beliefs taught by men who were taught by other men, who were taught by other men who were taught by other men (ok, I think you get my drift but just in case you didn’t) who were taught by other men, who were taught by other men (because you know that women couldn’t teach :-O) who were taught by other men about God. Hmm…I don’t really think so. I believe there has got to be more to God than this! A whole lot more!!! Something to definitely THINK about!!!