If the Christians are right, then Merrill (my Grandfather) is most likely going to hell. Depending on which Christians you talk to, the hell he will be ďsentĒ too will be different.
Some uneducated bible thumping assholes brandish the word like the fear of hell and hope of heaven is all the heathen need to convert, and all the righteous to stay in line. I know some kids raised in repressive households think that for masturbating, they are going to be sent to a pit of fire and brimstone to be tormented by demons. The pit is fiery, as we all know, and the demons are crouching at the edge of Christian thought, straining at the leads to rend the flesh and rejoice in the screams of the wicked everywhere. The Devil is constantly lurking in the shadows, tempting people away from the path of righteousness, wrangling souls from heathens, devouring the immortal essence of his victims for amusement and making the paintings of Bosch look like fun. The Demons are horned, wicked, evil, sadistic, and eternal, and they want YOU.
If you donít completely give yourself to the God of the preacher, He, in his infinite Impatience and Bitchiness, will shoot you strait down to hell for an eternity of fire and pain, because you are Wicked for not listening to the Righteous Word of the Church of Asshole Televangelists.
No wonder children are afraid of the dark with monsters like that lurking under their bed. I wish I knew what they were afraid of more the corrupt priests or the soul-shredding demons.
There is a second version of hell. It is at the same time more and less terrifying than the first, but is certainly more intellectual.
Hell is not a pit of Fire and Brimstone. When you die, you face God. You face the creator of the universe, and for a moment his awesome power is focused on you. In this moment, you feel all your imperfections, faults, sins, guilt, and flaws. In this moment, you feel all the pain that you have caused others. Moreover, you know that God, the source of all life in the universe, the omnipotent, omniscient, the Almighty in all his unadorned glory, loves you and wants you to be with him. You know exactly how unworthy you are, and yet you are completely understood, and completely loved. God says he will take you into Heaven with him, if with your own free will, the gift he has given us all, you agree to go.
Hell is turning your face away from this. Why would you turn away from God? There are plenty of reasons. Shame, pride, guilt, refusing to admit your life long beliefs were wrong, and envy are a few. Understanding perfectly yet refusing the love and grace of your Creator is hell. Nothing could be worse than understanding the love of God and refusing to accept it, and nothing could be more tragic. Nothing could be worse than seeing the Face of God and turning away from it, and nothing anyone else could ever do to you would be more painful. It is the ultimate self-inflicted pain. It is the ultimate choice, the ultimate consequence, and the worst thing is you brought it on yourself.
God is a loving God. I cannot see the Christian god being as vindictive as the pulpit thumpers paint him to be. And I also cannot see Merrill accepting Godís love. Who knows, maybe the illness and the pain has finally worn him down so that he can accept it. But the man who raised my Mother would, from everything I have been told and have seen, would turn away. He was always very angry about religion and God.
From the second theory there come several alternate choices. The first is that, upon turning away from God, one is destroyed and simply ceases to be. The second is that, upon turning away from the Light, you spend eternity facing the Dark, alone. It is your choice to turn back, but whatever reason that prompted you to turn away in the first place is probably magnified a million times by turning away. The third is that you are re-incarnated. Good pagan that I am, it is the third choice that I hold by. But its reincarnation automatic, like God booting your soul back down and saying ďFine. Work out your issues some more. Iíll be here when youíre done.Ē? Or, is it yet another choice you can make? Since God loves free will, and gave this most valued gift to us, thatís a perfectly likely hypothesis.
Ah, greater minds than I have gnawed at this problem. I think I shall go enjoy my parents, and comfort my Grandmother right now. After all, this may be all that there is, as good as it gets, and I will definitely spend all the time I can with my loved ones.