I remember lying there, dead, with blood oozing from the gash stretched across my forehead. The steam from the engine rose into the tree that split the truck in two. I sat there lifeless, trying not to blink, smile or show the rising of my chest with every breath I took. I wanted it to look as real as possible.
It was our annual Judgment House, my small Southern Baptist church’s Halloween play. Scaring people into heaven with the threat of a fiery hell, a pissed off God and a gruesome car accident was our specialty.
It’s where I grew up, it’s what has shaped me and damaged me in many ways. My faith started of with a sinners prayer during an alter call and since that teary eyed point, I began my mission to evangelize my high school, family and friends. I thought God was most definitely white, male and angry at the world.
By my junior year of High School my sister had committed suicide, my mother’s alcoholism blew out of control and my father was moving to Alabama with his new wife. Sadly my faith did not get me very far. I was told my sister went to hell to be eternally beat up on and roasted in the cosmic toaster oven. My dad and mom were following suit and I had to watch it all unravel, as I not only had to answer my families questions about death, I also had to convince them that the world was created in 6 days, that God hated homosexuals, and that all American War’s are divinely sanctioned.
The Christianity I grew up with was terrifying, and left me asking…what next?
Not so surprisingly, being created in the image of a relational God, the conclusions I came to discover were found in conversations around the dinner table, late night car rides and at the bar with a good beer (and the occasional Taylor Swift song, Lord have mercy).
Conversation is like spiritual detox, especially for us cynics. And as I noted above, the faith I grew up with was one that centered on Heaven and Hell – something very fun to talk about, yet also something that needs to be talked about.
So, with some brews, Mexican food and good dialogue let’s start “Community on Tap” with a conversation where we wrestle with the reality of Heaven and Hell, and figure out where we should go next in our understanding of such important ideas in our tradition.
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