Friday, December 16, 2005

Universal Salvation

When I was in grad school, it wasn't just Miss J and I in the cute house on Polo Road. There was also our roommate, who we shall just call Missy. Missy was from a strain of Christianity that talked in tongues and anointed each other and their houses and believed that the end of the world was rapidly approaching. She also believed that most of the people around her would rue the end of the world, because they'd not be as happy as she would with how things turned out. I was not aware of how literally she took her beliefs until the most uncomfortable evening of my whole grad school career*. Miss J was housesitting for a professor so Missy and I living in the house on Polo Road without her. But we'd all been together that evening getting shit-faced and, I assume, though I don't remember, acting like wild heathens. Still, nothing too outrageous, I don't think**. But when we got back to the house on Polo Road, I sat down on the futon and Missy sat across from me on the loveseat by the window, and she started sobbing. I was really alarmed, because nothing had happened that evening that would lead one to cry. But there she was. And so I was drunkenly trying to console her. "My god," I said, "What's wrong?" "I just love you and Miss J so much." "Well, we love you, too." "I mean it. I just love you and Miss J so much. I don't ever want to be where you aren't." "What do you mean? Are you going to start stalking us?" "No, I mean when you go to Hell." Now, here's the point when your dear aunt, had she not been drinking, would have probably gotten very angry and quiet and walked away. But I had been drinking and, in general, when I've been drinking, I love everyone and want them to feel good. And so I became distraught because, drunkenly, I thought her beliefs deserved respect and a kind response. So, I did not punch her or sit her down and ask her about universal salvation, I just asked her this question: "Do you think you love me more than God does?" "Oh, no. Of course not. God is love." "Okay, and if you're this upset about me not getting into Heaven, how upset do you think God is?" "That's why you and Miss J have got to repent." "No, listen. You like me, even unrepentant. I'm sure He does, too." She didn't get it. Fine. Here's another way to get at it. My uncle B.--the oldest one--was a motherfucker. I'm not going to get into all the ways he was a motherfucker, but the dude made my mom cry and that is enough for me. I sat there in the driver's seat of the van listening to her tell me about how she'd taken him to the store because he claimed he couldn't drive and he grabbed her leg and her arm and tried to pull her on top of him because, as he explained, it was his right as the oldest member of the family. And she fought him off and drove him home and then sat there next to me, begging me not to tell my dad, because she didn't want to upset him and I was like, "Fuck telling Dad. We're going over to that motherfucker's house and you'll lure him out and I'll run his fat ass over." And she smiled a little bit and said it wasn't worth damaging the van. And when he died, I laughed. I laughed for days. Good riddance. But my grandma, who I love dearly, was devastated. I don't think she expected that my awesome Uncle B. would outlive her, but she thought for sure that her other four children would. And so the death of her oldest son hit her hard. And I know that, if that son of a bitch is not there in Heaven with her, she's miserable. Which leads me to universal salvation and how I first knew I wasn't going to make a very good Christian. I just don't believe in Hell as a place where bad people go to be punished after they die. If we can love each other so much that we would be miserable being separated from each other for too long, why would the Christian God arrange the world in a way that would make him miserable--guaranteeing His separation, for eternity, from some of the people He loves. It makes no sense to me. I might buy that Heaven and Hell are the same place and that, if we are made completely aware of the implications of our lives--fully aware of the joy we've spread and the pain we've caused--that some folks might be very happy with eternity and others might be miserable. But I keep thinking of my grandma, who, bless her heart, would be miserable watching my uncle suffer in all the ways he so richly deserves. I just never could get past that. My grandma was a good person, faithful to her god. How could her god have the afterlife set up in such a way that my grandma would be unhappy? [Thanks to Miss Kitty for getting me thinking about all this.] *And I think we remember that my grad school career included the incompetent man who bit me, hard, on the elbow, so that's saying something. **Do you recall, Miss J?


Blogger Kat Coble said...

There are a great many Christian thinkers who believe in Universal Salvation. They make a good case.

12/16/2005 09:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Nashville Attorney said...

Fundamentalist Christianity has all kinds of neat tricks for explaining away this logical problem.

I remember sitting in sunday school one time, where we were divided into boys and girls and allowed to ask sex questions. Now beyond the other hiliarity that resulted from 13yo boys asking fat, balding middle-aged bible thumpers about humping; a kid asked something to the effect of "my grandma died, does she get upset when she sees me masturbate."

I think this is at least tangentially related to your grandma/ dick uncle situation. The central question is how do we reconcile the eternal happiness, and bliss that is heaven with the knowledge that our loved ones aren't with us or are currently on earth being bad boys and girls. The bible teacher's answer? Simple. Since you're guaranteed to be happy all the time in heaven, if something bad happens to someone you knew, God just erases all your memory of them. Of course he had no scripture to back this up, but it seemed to make sense to everyone else. The logical inconsistency bothers me to this day.

Nice post by the way. A little disappointed your tits weren't referenced in the crying scene with your obviously lesbian repressed roommate, but overall, good post.

12/16/2005 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that night was anything more than just our usual hooliganing around. It certainly couldn't have been the night in which Missy and I took turns throwing up in the toilet while you wandered down to the road and fell asleep in the ditch. Ahhh. Those were such good times.

I wonder what's up with Missy these days anyway? If anyone out there in blogland is pissed about the fact that the Coors distributorship in Columbia no longer hosts a Mule Day party with free beer, then know that you have our former roommate to thank for it. Surely there's a hell for people like that.

Miss J

12/16/2005 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Twyla said...

I just can't go with the whole hell thing. Among other things in the Book. I'm in a shit of a place...too off-the-path for the churchy folks, too spiritual for the rest. Ah well.

12/17/2005 05:17:00 PM  
Anonymous peripateticpolarbear said...

Sorry. You're going to have to do better than that to be truly heretical. Universal salvation is not a problem. Your old roommate Missy, well that is a problem.

Love, the Reverend Polar Bear!

12/17/2005 08:02:00 PM  

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