Friday, July 13, 2007

Hotter than hell

(This sign got me so boiled up I had to write a letter. I looked up the church's website and found the pastor's name in order to personalize it so it wouldn't get stuck on the secretary's desk. Here, however, I have kept anonymity.)

Dear Pastor:

Today as I drove past your church I noticed your sign out front: “If you think it’s hot here…”. It got me thinking about other places on this earth that are indeed hotter than southwestern Connecticut.

I thought of those who die in the slums of Mumbai and Calcutta, India; the soldiers and civilians who die in the deserts of Iraq and Darfur, Africa. I was reminded of migrant workers in their fields from sunrise to sunset, of resident families of the Oaxaca City dump in Mexico who pick through garbage for plastic bottles to recycle. I remembered that there are hundreds of elderly folks in apartments who die in hot summers. I wondered about the relative heat of Antarctica that is destroying the habitat of polar bears and penguins. I pictured dying coral reefs caused by rising sea temperatures. I called to mind the forest fires being fought by brave men and women out West and the families and wildlife displaced by those fires. I thought of my brother who lives in Tucson, AZ where there is a serious drought.

There are some things worse than the perils of hell: allowing our sisters and brothers around the world and in our own country to suffer in an earthly hell; to abuse the environment to the point that the earth we leave our grandchildren will not be the one we cherished in our childhood. Jesus said that when we minister even unto the least of these, we have ministered unto him.

Perhaps your intent was to get people thinking, but thinking about what? Their own souls or about the eternal life of all people, eternal life that begins right now with the way we live our lives in relationship to God, each other, and the whole creation.

You’re right—it’s not hot here. Perhaps it’s time we got into the kitchen of the Lord.

Peace be with you.


Padre Mickey said...

What I don't understand is that people in hell are dead, right? They've left their human bodies and are in some kinda spiritual body, right? So, I figure, without a body, they don't have a nervous system. How does this fire bother them? They won't even know that it's hot. Fire and cold really won't bother dead people, will they?

Grandmère Mimi said...

Cynthia, it's a wonderful letter, right on point.

“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ Matthew 25:44-46

Do let us know if you receive an answer.

Heather said...

Very, very well said. Please keep us posted if you receive a response.

Cynthia said...

Padre, the way I understand it, the unrighteous technically do not "die"--they feel all the torments of hell as if their earthly bodies were still alive. One of the blessings of death for the righteous is that they do indeed die--no more pain, no more sorrow. But this is only if you believe in the dualism of flesh and spirit. Always read the fine print...

Mimi and Heather, thank you. If there is a response it will get posted.

Mystical Seeker said...

Wow, wow, wow. What a great, powerfully written letter. I wonder what kind of response you will get to it.

pj said...

I love it. You know what I really love about it? That you didn't just drive home and think, "maybe I'll write it later, after lunch." I aspire to be more like you.

Andy said...

"Self-expression doesn't appear to be one of your problems."

Great job, Cindy!

Cynthia said...

Dang, that's from a movie and I can't think from which one!

Thanks for reading, everyone. I am still awaiting a response.

Andy said...

Its from "Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan". Kirk says this to Saavik when she asks him if she can "speak freely" in the turbolift.

Dennis said...

well written. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a response.

There is a church not far from here that posts oddball and crazy thoughts on their roadsign (really weid stuff sometimes). I've thought of dropping them a note from time to time but held off in fear that they would send people to our front door to "witness" to us. Don't feel up to a visit from the Pentecostal missionaries.

(although I am biased. I'll talk for hours to Mormon missionary boys if they are cute. Really cute ones can even pray for me!)

But "holy rollers with strollers" aren't welcome at our front door.

Cynthia said...

Dennis, I know what you mean about the Mormon boys. I always invite them in for a snack of some sort, a hot drink in the winter. One duo left behind their Book of Mormon, on purpose I think. I still have it, but it sits on my shelf.

I'm only partially optimistic about receiving a response. And I don't think they'll come to my door: the church is about 25 minutes away (by car) from my home.