Conscious Torment

So religion makes people good, does it. Christianity makes people more kind and compassionate does it. Well, maybe sometimes it does, but all too often it (at least the extreme, narrow version of it that is so popular in the US) makes people – not just not better, but horrifying. Disgusting. So appalling it’s hard to take it in.

Patrick Henry is a Christian university where the students all (shades of Oxbridge and the Thirty Nine Articles) sign a ten-part statement of faith –

agreeing that, among other things, Hell is a place where “all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity.”

Okay, I know we’re supposed to be all tolerant and respectful, we’re supposed to shut up about people’s pious ‘devout’ beliefs, we’re supposed to refrain from telling them that they’re lost in the fog. But – but there’s a limit. There’s a limit, and with the drooling sadism of the Rapture novels and with ‘statements of faith’ like the above, I reach my limit. That sentence is disgusting! It’s disgusting, disgusting, disgusting, and people who sign up to it and then go cheerily about their business, ironing their hair and not drinking alcohol and interning for Karl Rove – people like that are an abomination. I’m serious. If they sign up to that and seriously literally believe it’s true – what the fuck is the matter with them? Why aren’t they all curled up in little balls sobbing and screaming? Why doesn’t that thought blight their lives? Why doesn’t it give them nightmares? Why doesn’t it torture them so much that they look for a way out and realize it’s all a pack of lies? Why are they happy with the set-up? What is wrong with them? They seriously think that the vast majority of humans alive now and also formerly alive are now or will soon be ‘confined in conscious torment for eternity’? And they don’t mind? They in fact ‘love’ the ‘God’ that arranges this? The God that first creates us and then confines us in conscious torment for eternity?

They’re sick. I’m dead serious. They’re a population of sick bastards. And there they are trundling around thinking they’re good. It’s staggering. It’s also disgusting. It’s always disgusted me in Dante, but he had the excuse that he lived in the 13th century. There’s no excuse for it now. I can accept (up to a point) that the fact that religion is consoling is an excuse for believing it, even though there’s not much other reason. But believing that foul sentence is hardly the same kind of consolation as believing we will all be reunited and there will be no more parting then.

It’s the word ‘conscious’ that pushes me over the edge. There’s something so – oh, determined, refined, thorough about it. An anxious carefulness to nail everything down, to make absolutely sure that not only is there torment and not only is it for eternity, but the outside-of-Christers are awake for it. And along come tripping all these brighteyed fresh-faced home-schooled dimpled little darlings from Idaho and Nebraska, signing right up to that evil piece of shit. And thinking they’re virtuous for doing so – thinking they’re better than the secular crowd.

I don’t understand. I really don’t. It defeats me.

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