Smacking down for Jesus

Travelers Rest resident Alan Landreth’s letter to the editor published December 17 in The Greenville News inspired this week’s videoblog. “God wouldn’t send us to Hell” ran more or less concurrently with my discovery of Marshall Rosenberg. He’s the iconic dispute mediator who founded the Center for Nonviolent Communication and I have to admit that, although I’ve known about NVC for many years, I somehow managed to overlook Rosenberg until this week. My bad.

The mashup of letter, angry online responses to same and Rosenberg put me immediately in mind of Carlton Pearson, the Oral Roberts protégé whose megachurch congregation fled when he shared with them his newfound conviction that there is no Hell. If you aren’t familiar with Pearson and you aren’t in the habit of telling people to have a blessed day, you might be as encouraged and fascinated as I was by his 2006 MSNBC Dateline profile, “To Hell and Back,” even if smarmy Dateline host Keith Morrison does makes your skin crawl.

I’ve never been comfortable with the notion that a loving God would bring us into existence, give us free will and a rule book (a trail of bread crumbs, actually), dangle before us temptations galore, and then roast eternally everyone who dies unrepentant. Mohandas Gandhi, together with every Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Jew born since Christ rolled back the stone. Every last one of them in Hell. And don’t get me started about the aborigines.