Sunday, April 5, 2020

I'm Sick of the Title So No More We Can Do Hard Things: Palm Sunday

found on the Internets

So, today's Palm Sunday. I marked the occasion by listening to a Fresh Air podcast -- an interview with Professor of Religious Studies Bart Ehrman who says that our ideas of heaven and hell -- or eternal reward or punishment -- are not found in either the Old Testament or the teachings of Jesus. I've always been fascinated by religious studies, even thought about getting an advanced degree in it, and since Ehrman hails from my alma mater, I really perked up this morning when I read a bit about him. He's a former Catholic and then evangelical Christian -- someone who bought the whole kit and caboodle, as they say. I vaguely remember reading something or other that he wrote about Jesus, and I admit that I'm always, always interested in reading anything that debunks what the evangelicals or the Catholics so righteously and smugly espouse, but today's interview struck me particularly hard because it was not only fascinating but intensely compassionate -- toward those very people who kind of, sort of, drive me insane. I know I can use some lessons in compassion, and I really dug the part when he says that letting people have faith in heaven is fine, but it's harmful to teach people that there's a hell.

And so I will never try to talk somebody out of a belief in heaven, but I certainly will try to talk people out of a belief in hell because it's simply wrong, and it's harmful. It does psychological damage. And when people raise their children on this stuff, it can scar them for life. And so I think that hell is something we need to fight against; heaven, I'm all for.

Here's the link to the episode: Heaven and Hell Are Not What Jesus Preached, Religion Scholar Says.

Last night I was in a funk, but the reasons why are too embarrassing to repeat, so today I've cleaned bathrooms, made bread and am thinking about cataloguing all my books, my mood strangely light and resigned and buoyed by cracks of light through dark clouds, the roses sitting in an Italian vase on my dining room table, Sophie's plum-colored pants with the baby blue, pink and red stripes down the side, a flip through an old photo album and the blessed relief that I'll never have to sit through a Palm Sunday mass again.

Here's a poem*:

Goodtime Jesus

Jesus got up one day a little later than usual. He had been dreaming so deep there was nothing left in his head. What was it? A nightmare, dead bodies walking all around him, eyes rolled back, skin falling off. But he wasn't afraid of that. It was a beautiful day. How 'bout some coffee? Don't mind if I do. Take a little ride on my donkey, I love that donkey. Hell, I love everybody.

James Tate (1979)

This poem was brought to my attention by this very cool newsletter that I receive. It's called Pome by Matthew Ogle. 


  1. I literally just listened to that podcast on Fresh Air.
    Bless Terry Gross.
    Bless you.
    Bless all of us.
    "I love that donkey. Hell, I love everybody."

  2. I don't believe in hell either, except as it exists here on earth for many people. When my dad was dying he said he thought he would go to hell for things he'd done in the war. I told him that I didn't think god worked like that. I hope it helped him.

  3. I'm all for Heaven too, I am Hopeful it exists in the afterlife. As for Hell, I think we do Create a version of that here on Earth for ourselves sometimes... or go thru a kind of Hell involuntarily too... so I am equally Hopeful it doesn't exist in the afterlife. This Pandemic is a Living Hell Globally... that I'm sure of. I'm glad you rebounded from your Funk, I did as well, Yesterday was tough, Today, not as bad.

  4. I agree that hell is only a thing that exists on earth, in this life. I have no clue as to the afterlife, and anyone who claims they do, well, I just don't believe it. I'm content to let the mystery be. I'll listen to that show - I catch it whenever I remember! I recently heard the brilliant interview with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and NY Met Opera. What a dear man, and her knowledge of music is vast.

    As to your bad day, we're all having them, dear sistah! I try not to worry when I have one - I know it will pass and, like you, I balance them with a productive day of housecleaning or cooking. One of the things I have noticed is a good convo on Facetime or Zoom usually helps immensely. xoxoxo

  5. That was a good listening experience.
    Reminded me of the years my in laws tried so very hard to save my heathen soul.
    And of the one teenage year in my life when I thought I had to find god and never did.
    But maybe I got it all confused with church and organised religion, and I get that taste of bile in my mouth while watching the news item about the pedophile cardinal in Australia walking free today and the pope preaching forgiveness for him. It is then I briefly hope that there is indeed hell waiting for some. Self righteous git that I am.



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