Friday, November 17, 2006

Re-post: Limbo - Oct 06

From Friday, October 06, 2006

The Pope is to abolish Limbo. ("Why?" quipped Zara "Did he hurt his back trying to get under the pole?")

It interests me that he really does think he has the power to decide such things as whether Limbo exists, for people other than himself. It interests me even more that for some other people in the world he really does have this power. If he says a thing has ceased to exist, they actually believe it's gone. Poof! Gone.

My personal belief is that our experience after death actually will correspond with whatever we believed in life. So (if I'm right) then the Pope really does have that power over vast swathes of humanity.

I know people who believe life after death is always complete nothingness, the void (Limbo, as previously defined by Catholics) and some of them really welcome the prospect of their existence stopping and becoming nothingness on their death. Stardust. These aren't all unbaptized and some still believe in God but view this life as 'suffering' and therefore don't want any more of any sort of life after it at all.

I know others who are agnostics or atheists who believe in a continuation of individual existence after death and in my opinion they have a perfect right to believe what they want to believe and I hope (and believe) it will be true for them.

It is a matter of faith and the essence of being a Catholic (as I understand it) is that you put your faith in whatever the Pope decides is true. In fact, the essence of any organised religion means delegating the decisions about what you're going to believe to the people at the top of your religious body, whichever that may be. This is why I could never belong to one: I want to decide those things individually, by myself.

Should the Pope (or any one man) have so much jaw-dropping audacious power? Maybe not, but he does. But only because and while ever some people choose to allow him to have it.

A Catholic writer in the Daily Mail (Peter Stanford) bemoans the decision, asking "Why bother trying to be so good as to win admission from St Peter at the gates of Heaven, when everyone's got a free ticket anyway?"

There's a picture of him and he looks to have had at least 30 years in which to think about such matters. Yet I thought the concept of 'being good and you'll get into Heaven' was the dentist-friendly version of that old parenting standby 'Be good and you'll get some sweets.' It's bribery!

If you were St Peter, would you let anyone in who'd been 'good' solely to reserve their spot? It strikes me as being a bit selfish (= 'bad' last time I checked with anyone who quantifies these things. Which was probably my mother.)

No I don't think selfishness is bad. But nor do I think being good just to get into heaven is good. I'm more inclined to think they're all subjective and rather useless concepts, like limbo. Does that make me existentialist? *Reaches for dictionary to find out what that means..*

posted by Gill at 7:03 PM 2 comments


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