A Miscellany 290
Burning the Bridge to Hell: Introduction
by: Emily VanLaeys
This is the introduction to my book: BURNING THE BRIDGE TO HELL. I would like to get some feedback from an agnostic or two. Thanks!
Emily blogs at Building Bridges of Oneness
Our universe came into being billions of years beyond the reach of human memory, and yet we endlessly debate the possibilities of how and why it happened, as if anyone can know. Some believe that the universe was designed and created by a divine, benevolent intelligence, while others insist that it was just the result of random chance. Neither theory can be proven, so we may as well imagine the best possible scenario. A scenario in which there is no accommodation for eternal damnation, and no place for a creator that is not loving and all-wise.
Many who do believe in the Intelligent Design of the universe still do not credit any of the world religion's images of God with the creation and evolution of everything. Not a surprise, because there probably is no one religion that can satisfactorily answer every question that an inquiring mind will have. Perhaps this is because each religion was designed to meet the spiritual needs of a particular section of the human population. If there is an omniscient cosmic intelligence, it would recognize that the immense diversity of human capabilities, worldviews, environmental and cultural backgrounds, interests and experiences, would make it impossible to present the whole world with one pathway to understanding creation and the meaning of life.
Every religion, every culture, and nearly every individual in the world, embraces a different image of God – an image that may be worshiped, adored, revered, feared, claimed to be dead, or to be a fabrication of the human imagination. There is no single human brain that can possibly fathom the entirety of the infinite cosmic mystery. Some people claim they have experienced cosmic consciousness, a blissful union with divine intelligence and all of Creation – but this is a spiritual experience that can never be clearly described in human language. So each person chooses the portion of truth that he or she can comprehend, and each of these bits is embellished with details either fabricated by the individual or by one of the founders or perpetrators of that particular brand of faith.
Those who deny the existence of any divine intelligence frequently do so because they see the fallacies in the religious doctrines they have been exposed to. Then instead of going a step further to explore the possibility of a divine mystery too large to be explained by any theology or philosophy engineered by the human mind, they disregard all theism as an invention of the imagination. Some atheists may dismiss the existence of God because of the limitations of the human brain that cannot conceive of an intelligence greater than its own, or the existence of realms that cannot be seen or heard with the human senses. And then there are the agnostics who say that any god who allows evil to exist must be apathetic.
In these times of widespread famine, war, and natural disaster, we often hear people say: "If there was a god, he wouldn't allow these things to happen." Others say: "How can God allow these disasters? Where is God when people are suffering?" Or they echo the lament of Jesus as he cried out from the cross: "God, why have you forsaken us?" Many people believe that the current catastrophes signal the inevitable end of the world as predicted in the Bible and by the Mayans and other prophets. Those who proclaim that there is no god say that it is the wishful thinking of childlike minds to believe that any higher power actually cares what happens to our race and our world. Whatever happens to the world is totally up to us. We'd better make some big changes, or it will be all over soon, whether by environmental destruction, nuclear holocaust, the disappearance of the honeybees, or a wayward asteroid – take your pick!
More and more people don't even want to hear the word "God" spoken. They connect "God" with childhood images of a stern old man sporting a long white beard, who tallies their sins, and deals out punishments accordingly. To many, God is also the one who instructs certain factions of society to be excluded from grace: homosexuals, atheists, and anyone or any group who differs in belief or lifestyle from those whose image of God is exclusive to them. Some people confuse the meaning of "God" by saying that God is not the same as Allah, Brahma, or the kami of Shintoism.
"God" is just a word. In fact, it is an abused and over-used word, which might be understood better if it was replaced with another one, such as Creator, Divine Light, Omniscient One, Universal Mind, Heavenly Parent, Eternal Spirit. The possibilities are endless! However, the one word that I believe best sums up the essence of the One in whom we "live and move and have our being". . . is Love.
When God is thought of as pure, unconditional love, I find it a little easier to separate truth from fabrication in the religious teachings and doctrines of the world's faiths. Would love intentionally create a world where greed and violence are a natural part of life? Would love allow any of its children to spend eternity in despair and agony? Would love give up and cease to extend lifelines of hope to any wayward ones who have lost their way? Would love reveal the truth about itself to one segment of its family and then leave it up to them to make sure the other family members get it right?
So the main character in my story will be called Love. Love could not have created a place such as Hell is imagined to be. The existence of Hell, whether in this world or the next, is the creation of human minds that have separated themselves from the Love that spawned us. Love is the energy, the creative force, the One who created this world; the animals, plants, and people who populate it, and who has nurtured us throughout history as we have been learning, ever so slowly, to be more like Love ourselves.
Divine Love does not have a single personality, but is expressed in the multitude of personalities that burst forth from the Divine Heart. Still, I don't know how to write about the role of Love in the world without assigning it a personality because the actions of All-That-Is are beyond my ability to imagine or verbalize. However, I have as much as possible, refrained from ascribing any particular characteristics or gender to Love. Also, I have tried to show how Love's work is accomplished by created beings, both physical and spiritual, who reflect Love's various aspects.
The purpose of this book is to demonstrate the possibility that one divine intelligence created the universe and everything in it; and that this universal mind, which is Love, has always been active in the evolution of creation, manifesting in the multiple ways that have helped to transform us from primitive warriors to the seekers of enlightenment that so many are today. Burning the Bridge to Hell is a combination of fact and fantasy, history and spirituality. It is my hope that readers will be inspired to send their imaginations beyond the walls that religion and science have built around our minds. Just imagine that all of creation was conceived in Love, that the universe is a safe and friendly place, and that a world at peace is a probable and attainable goal.
© Emily VanLaeys