This recent Easter, we have been inundated by presentations on something that people call salvation. In Europe such topics are called the “lollipop” gift. The lollipop in question is the sweetie given to children who behave in a tidy manner. Early on, “Church” rulers must have realized that continuous threat systems didn’t work, so they needed some sucker–some lollipop–as a reward for “good” behavior; that is, for marching in lock step. Good behavior here means acceptance of the paradigm decreed from On High to keep everybody accountable for every gesture, every thought, and every moment of their time–no unauthorized thoughts, no unauthorized deeds.
Then they came up with a brilliant scheme : “We’ll sell you indulgences that give you automatic salvation.” Boy! Any snake-oil salesman would have loved it. Hold the huge threat of hell over the masses, then tell them, “For a few dollars you can get this patent medicine that will get you out of it.” Of course those untidy ones among us who don’t believe in a place called hell naturally don’t need indulgences–and of course that meant less income to the Church. Such skeptical thoughts had to be stamped or burned out.
Eastern religions didn’t sell indulgences as such, but they had an equivalent threat system. In that version, you would come back as a loathly beast if you didn’t toe the mark. By the way, you could buy candles, give food, or even buy little birds that would be set free ; you could go on pilgrimages, and do a thousand and one other things that would let you step outside the boundaries at will and still be reincarnated at a respectable level, maybe even as a prince or a shah.
It is interesting to look up the original derivation of hell . It comes from “to hide or cover up”. Maybe the grave was intended here–but the grave is no inferno ; so the grave on its own would not do as a threat system. It had to be ratcheted up with fires and tortures.
Another threat in some of today’s thinking on reincarnation is that hell is actually living on the earthplane in the totally screwed up culture with which we are all so familiar. So if you don’t complete your assignments in this incarnation, you will have to come back and live here–in hell–again.
By the way, one and all, we are going to Tampa on April 24 and will be at the Tampa Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship to attend Sunday service on April 25. Too, we will address the CUUPS* group through that same fellowship on Monday April 26. From there we go on to FPG (Florida Pagan Gathering).
See uutampa.org and flapagan.org
Blessed be those who investigate options. Gavin and Yvonne
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*Covenant of Unitarian-Universalist Pagan … somethings (Services?)