FOR HELL’S SAKE!

Sleep is that lover that deserts me at will. Last night, for whatever reason, it refused to lie with me. So I lay in my bed, alone, counting the ceiling boards of my room. They were still 36. None had been added or removed since my last ‘episode’. For the umpteenth time, I noticed two incomplete boards at opposite sides of the ceiling. For the umpteenth tme too, I debated if they were each up to half and therefore deserving to be counted as one. Tired of the blind argument, I ransacked my wardrobe for a tape rule; then placed a stool close to the fridge. I felt the fridge to be sure it could take my weight, them climbed it with the aid of the stool. For a moment I merely stood, happy that I had accomplished the little feat of standing on my fridge. The real reason was however the accomplishment of a successful rebellion: I had just broken mum and dad’s thou-shall-not-put-heavy-things-on-the-fridges-and-freezers rule. I did a little dance, then fetched the tape rule from my pocket and measured one full ceiling board, then the incomplete ceiling board. The other incomplete ceiling board was above my windows so I stood with one leg on the iron burglary-proof framing the windows, and the other leg on a shelf in my wardrobe. Measurements done, the incomplete ceiling boards were just a few centimetres less than a full board. So I proclaimed them a board and smiled, proud of my magnanimity.

Still wide awake, I looked at my wristwatch, and read the time to be 3 a.m. I smiled, certain I would finally charm sleep to me. Unknown to you early-late birds (sleep latest by midnight, and wake earliest by 6a.m), 3a.m TV time is for newspaper reviews, religious programs, topical shows, and other “heavy” programs. The presenters and guests spew specialised jargons, appeal to logic, religion and/or history to predict future events and explain present occurences… basically they lull a tired brain to sleep. And since my brain had been funtioning since 4a.m of the previous day I expected my brain to be tired. So I went to the sitting room with an expectant bounce in my step, humming Pharell’s “Happy”, switched on the stabilizer, the television, and…

“They shall languish in perpetual torment! In a place where there is weeping, gnashing of teeth, eternal anguish in the pit of flames and from which there is no escape. Eternal fires will burn their souls for all of eternity!”

I stepped back; away from the television with its hell-preaching minister sweating buckets in a well-tailored suit and stabbing at the air with his Bible to punctuate his prophesy of eternal burning fires. The wheels in my head started turning; and I knew, I just knew, my last hope of sleep for the night was lounging somewhere in the television, listening a tad too attentively to the preacher man.

When the station decided his airfare was up he was scrolled off the station, and another preacher man was aired. He seemed to take up exactly from where the last one left off. He said hell is evil and all sinners would go to evil evil- repitition for emphasy- hell to frolick with Satan and his fire smoking angels.

At 5a.m some backyard church got to the megaphone, and you can guess what happened… I got the third dose of the evil-hell-with-eternal-blazing-fires sermon. The thought-wheels spinning caused by the first sermon got louder, and here’s what I got.

What really is the gospel about: the fear of hell or the love of God? The salvation of souls or the damnation of sinners? The paradise of heaven or the languish of hell?

Perhaps we have misplaced the priorities and they have forgotten what to preach, or I have gone cuckoo crazy. It’s just that I don’t recall fear being synonymous with love. If God loves us, then perhaps he does not want us to fear his wrath; but to respect his presence, honour his word, reciprocate his love, worship his existence, and revere expressions of his essence.

That’s just my take. But perhaps, we can be humane enough to give Hell a breather.  Hell’s already roasting in (if one were to believe) the blazing tormenting fires; can we try not let its ears ring too?

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