Author Topic: PC040: Hell Is the Absence of God - PodCastle Giant  (Read 34354 times)

Ocicat

  • Castle Watchcat
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3710
  • Anything for a Weird Life
Reply #25 on: February 11, 2009, 07:13:59 PM
I thought it was a great and thought provoking story.  The world presented is an interesting way to look at faith.  If you explore the religious viewpoint that all good and bad things come from God, then the world of this story isn't that much of a further stretch.  There it's just provable what comes from God, and it's both good and bad.  God is not moral or just by our standards.  So should you love him?

I'm not exactly an atheist, but I'm certainly not a Christian.  But I lead a good life.  I try to help others.  Maybe, because I don't accept God, He won't let me into Heaven.  To which I say fine - if being judged on your works isn't enough, I don't really want to go there.

I do have to agree that the reading was sub-par.  I'm not sure how I would have read it - there are probably several different ways one could have gone.  But the reader chose the least involving of those.



Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
Reply #26 on: February 11, 2009, 08:47:43 PM
[...]
[edit]
Now that I've read through the comments:
That being said, the ending is still a punch in the gut.  The story puts forth a rather unappealing world view: that the afterlife is just as random and unfair as this life, and even God doesn't care. I was bothered that there wasn't even an explanation. Not even a reason given for why things happen. Ultimately it paints a picture of a God that is undeserving of the love and worship given Him by His children.
Yes, exactly my thoughts.  Best to have no afterlife at all, just oblivion.  But if there must be an afterlife, I choose this story's version of Hell.  The depiction of the Blessed in Heaven is just creepy, like brainwashed cultists. 

And my senior thesis research comes in handy; this version of Hell is actually kosher Catholicism since the early-to-mid-Nineties. They've slowly gotten rid of the imps with their burning-hot pokers (which do not make good pets — call your local Animal Control's Theological Creatures division to have them taken care of) and have focused on making Heaven and Hell states of being rather than places in the normal sense.

———

I liked it. The reading was a little bland at first, but I got into the story and it stopped bothering me completely. I see stePH's point about it being somewhat appropriate for Psudeopod, but I had no problem with it being where it was. Just because there's a horror podcast doesn't mean every scary thing goes there.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 08:03:32 PM by Heradel »

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Anarquistador

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 267
  • Servant of Fire
    • The Pit
Reply #27 on: February 11, 2009, 10:05:54 PM
Was it not CS Lewis who said that the Gates of Hell are locked from the INSIDE?

The idea being that the Fallen Angels left Heaven by choice, and were allowed to do what they would beyond the sight of God, but beyond the sight of God they became quarrelsome, unpleasant things. That finding yourself in Hell is not so much a punishment as it is God giving you what you thought you wanted...and finding out the neighbors aren't all that nice.

"Technology: a word we use to describe something that doesn't work yet."

- Douglas Adams

http://www.thereviewpit.com
http://thesuburbsofhell.blogspot.com


Katie

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 28
Reply #28 on: February 12, 2009, 01:18:13 AM
Loved it. I read the story a while back, and didn't really get it, but here it bloomed into life. Loved it.



Listener

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
Reply #29 on: February 12, 2009, 01:58:18 PM
This should've been a Miniature, not a Giant. The intro with Neal's mother not having a visitation, how his physical issues were caused not by deity but by random chance, talking about visitations and such, and then Neal's wife dying in one and Neal maybe choosing Hell over Heaven... could've done it in 2000 words, maybe. The story was boring, long, distressingly free of dialogue, and hit its highest point in the beginning, when we saw that visitations were real in this world.

The addition of Janice and Ethan just made it more ponderous.

I pretty much kept expecting something to happen. I had to wait FAR too long. And then, when Neal actually sees the light of Heaven? Cop-out. It would've been stronger for Neal to descend to Hell and, realizing his mistakes, realize that he should love the deity anyway.

The tense change at the ending? Cliche and didn't work for audio anyway.

My favorite part, other than the first visitation (where Neal's wife died), was the dispassionate "accounting" of the results of each visitation -- especially the reference to insurance and "Acts of God".

The reading was extremely flat and boring. Maybe the reader is a good writer, but as a reader he leaves something to be desired. The flat tone would have worked well in the accounting points regardless. Also, when I heard the quality of the recording, I knew this story would have to be really awesome for me to overcome my dislike of people who have hollow-sounding microphones or record in echo-y rooms with MP3s that require a ton of processing to kill the echo. This story did not overcome with awesomeness.

I'm not going to address the concept of a world where we have real visitations, and where the deity is known to people. Others can argue that point far better than me.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42


Swamp

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2230
    • Journey Into... podcast
Reply #30 on: February 12, 2009, 02:24:17 PM
Someone had implied that the first 45 minutes or so were useless but I would beg to differ. The last 15 minutes were the most action filled but the first 45 made the whole situation into something believable and more complex than a quick piece of fiction about religious storm chasers. Janice and Ethan provided good foils to Neil and gave his character more depth by contrasting his viewpoints.

I probably overstated my point by implying the entire first 45 minutes should be cut.  However, it could have been summed up in much less time (words) and without the documentary feel to it.  Either that or go entirely for the documentary angle by cutting between Dateline type segments and the narrative.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 02:31:19 PM by Swamp »

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


salimfadhley

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Reply #31 on: February 13, 2009, 05:52:29 PM
I loved it:-

We all know people who are convinced that gods and angels actually exist - for these folk the "spirt-world" is as real as the ground we walk on. I often ask friends of mine who are believers why it is that the world seems so entirely consistent with none of this stuff existing. But what if it DID exist - then surely the presence of such all-powerful entities would be something like this... mystical stuff would be happening all the time.

:-)



Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
Reply #32 on: February 13, 2009, 06:29:23 PM
This should've been a Miniature, not a Giant. The intro with Neal's mother not having a visitation, how his physical issues were caused not by deity but by random chance, talking about visitations and such, and then Neal's wife dying in one and Neal maybe choosing Hell over Heaven... could've done it in 2000 words, maybe. The story was boring, long, distressingly free of dialogue, and hit its highest point in the beginning, when we saw that visitations were real in this world.

The addition of Janice and Ethan just made it more ponderous.

I pretty much kept expecting something to happen. I had to wait FAR too long. And then, when Neal actually sees the light of Heaven? Cop-out. It would've been stronger for Neal to descend to Hell and, realizing his mistakes, realize that he should love the deity anyway.
[...]

It's not a tragedy without the first part. The sending him to hell didn't really come off arbitrary to me — it was purposeful, if sadist. He had already been given his chances to go to heaven and the heaven's light was not one of them. You can't have anagnorisis without showing the hamartia of not believing in a god where his angels are showing up all over the place.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2009, 06:37:44 PM by Heradel »

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #33 on: February 14, 2009, 01:44:19 AM
It's not a tragedy without the first part. The sending him to hell didn't really come off arbitrary to me — it was purposeful, if sadist. He had already been given his chances to go to heaven and the heaven's light was not one of them. You can't have anagnorisis without showing the hamartia of not believing in a god where his angels are showing up all over the place.

Belief wasn't the issue.  Loving God was the requirement to enter Heaven.  Nothing in the story indicated that he didn't believe.

And again I say, nothing but the brainwashing Neil underwent at the end could compel me to love a fuckwad of a deity like the one in this story.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


internalogic

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 33
Reply #34 on: February 14, 2009, 04:44:55 AM
I found this story and the reading of it highly effective and highly satisfying.

I enjoy the traditional dramatic structure as much as any other modern homo sapiens.  That structure does such a good job of pressing all of the right buttons so that we feel all of the right longings and satisfactions.  But there's a very real and significant part of me for which the whole thing seems rather cliched and artificial. 

Our narratives, our dreams, often seem as irrelevant as they are compelling.  And I say this as an enthusiastic native of 'ME'-land.  It's where I live.  I just can't buy the idea that it's the center of the Universe.  At all.

I've found myself exploring the idea that suffering and longing are actually the basis of much of our worldviews, particularly our senses of morality.  If someone were 'wronged' by conventional standards, but that person absolutely and genuinely did not care at all, would we really feel that s/he had been wronged? 

More likely we would feel that something was strange and unsettling about such a person, and an instinctive part of us would want the person to be harmed or punished.  (i.e., 'You're supposed to care!  That's part of the rules!')

Personally, I do care.  I care if my foot gets stepped on.  I care if I get to live.  I care if my family members are happy and are treated well.  I care if people are kind to me.  I care about all kinds of things.  And like most people I really enjoy stories that 1) make me care and 2) bring about an interesting or satisfying resolution to something that I care about.  I've accepted that this caring is part of what I am. 

Yet, another part of me simultaneously recognizes how very contrived and contingent this is.  And I'm embarrassed and even offended when people take our personal caring and use it as some sort of measuring scale of existence or the Cosmos.  It strikes me as decidedly non-Cosmic. 

So, 98% of the popular culture that I consume strikes me as somewhat benighted. 

I thought that this story did a tremendous job of painting a picture of human experience as both passionately compelling and utterly contingent.  It was a well-done thought experiment.

Part of its very point was that it was not about provoking yet another passionate reaction. 

In the world created by Peter Chiang, those who have seen 'the light of God' transcend the sorts of forces that define and structure our conventional experience.  Transcending doesn't mean throwing something away.  It means growing larger than it.  So Neal still can feel unhappiness or suffering.  But the reference point of his experience is now no longer bound to those feelings and that caring. 

Ever since I began to suspect and to become aware that such an experience was humanly possible, I found a great deal of what we do to be a little flatter.  But since people tend to imagine this sort of transcendance as a loss or as depressing, it's pretty rare to hear it described or talked about; let alone in such detail.

Maybe I'll try to clean up these ideas and present them in a more organized way at some point. 

Anyway.  I'm really glad to have heard this story.



Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
Reply #35 on: February 14, 2009, 05:05:38 AM
It's not a tragedy without the first part. The sending him to hell didn't really come off arbitrary to me — it was purposeful, if sadist. He had already been given his chances to go to heaven and the heaven's light was not one of them. You can't have anagnorisis without showing the hamartia of not believing in a god where his angels are showing up all over the place.

Belief wasn't the issue.  Loving God was the requirement to enter Heaven.  Nothing in the story indicated that he didn't believe.

And again I say, nothing but the brainwashing Neil underwent at the end could compel me to love a fuckwad of a deity like the one in this story.

I was using believing in a more catholic sense than you were — it amounts to the same acceptance/loving of God.

Using a tragic hero construct allows there to be a god that isn't sadistic. God gave Neil his chances early, including his wife, the constant visitations, and Janice. When Neil sees the light it's already too late, he's already burned through his chances. He could have believed with his wife, he could have taken refuge in the religion, but he didn't. He's fine with hell until his wife is taken and he can't imagine eternity without her. In an atheist universe he's a great man that would have died as one, but in a clearly theist universe he's hubristic in consciously rejecting the love except in how it meets his own needs.

Now, obviously for this to work the other Lightseekers that have gone to Heaven have to be motivated by something other than their own needs, or god simply chose for them to mercifully die rather than give them anagnorisis.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Anarquistador

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 267
  • Servant of Fire
    • The Pit
Reply #36 on: February 14, 2009, 05:39:24 PM
You raise a good point, Heradel; looking at it from a theistic perspective it does have a tragic hero vibe to it, and a very Catholic sentiment: in that walking the path is the key to salvation, not just saying the right words at the right moment. Nevertheless, the fact that we have to dig to find that perspective leads me to believe that the story is not coming from that perspective. Note that we don't really get any insight into the mindsets of those who WERE saved. If we had, maybe as a reader we might have gotten a better sense that there was an internal logic. That there was a reason some were saved and others were damned. But we don't. Instead it merely paints a picture of an unfeeling universe, with an equally unfeeling God.

"Technology: a word we use to describe something that doesn't work yet."

- Douglas Adams

http://www.thereviewpit.com
http://thesuburbsofhell.blogspot.com


stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #37 on: February 14, 2009, 06:04:29 PM
You raise a good point, Heradel; looking at it from a theistic perspective it does have a tragic hero vibe to it, and a very Catholic sentiment: in that walking the path is the key to salvation, not just saying the right words at the right moment. Nevertheless, the fact that we have to dig to find that perspective leads me to believe that the story is not coming from that perspective. Note that we don't really get any insight into the mindsets of those who WERE saved. If we had, maybe as a reader we might have gotten a better sense that there was an internal logic. That there was a reason some were saved and others were damned. But we don't. Instead it merely paints a picture of an unfeeling universe, with an equally unfeeling God.

Pretty much how I saw it.  In the world of the story, I'd almost certainly not be an atheist, with such abundant evidence for the existence of a deity.  But I didn't see any evidence that the deity should be loved.  All I saw was its angels showing up from time to time and causing random havoc, to the good of some and the ill of others. 

[edit]
Oh, and lets not forget causing a birth defect -- leglessness -- in a previously healthy fetus.  This doesn't sound like a loving deity who should be loved in return.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2009, 06:06:29 PM by stePH »

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Zathras

  • Guest
Reply #38 on: February 14, 2009, 06:24:55 PM
Finally finished it.  The story was good, but it was too ponderous.  I couldn't get past the horrendous sound quality.  I expect better from PC.  This sounded like it was recorded on a built-in mic on a laptop, in someone's bathroom.

"You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen. We don't need Him. F- damnation, man, f- redemption! If we are God's unwanted children, so be it!"



Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
Reply #39 on: February 14, 2009, 06:27:37 PM
You raise a good point, Heradel; looking at it from a theistic perspective it does have a tragic hero vibe to it, and a very Catholic sentiment: in that walking the path is the key to salvation, not just saying the right words at the right moment. Nevertheless, the fact that we have to dig to find that perspective leads me to believe that the story is not coming from that perspective. Note that we don't really get any insight into the mindsets of those who WERE saved. If we had, maybe as a reader we might have gotten a better sense that there was an internal logic. That there was a reason some were saved and others were damned. But we don't. Instead it merely paints a picture of an unfeeling universe, with an equally unfeeling God.

Pretty much how I saw it.  In the world of the story, I'd almost certainly not be an atheist, with such abundant evidence for the existence of a deity.  But I didn't see any evidence that the deity should be loved.  All I saw was its angels showing up from time to time and causing random havoc, to the good of some and the ill of others. 

[edit]
Oh, and lets not forget causing a birth defect -- leglessness -- in a previously healthy fetus.  This doesn't sound like a loving deity who should be loved in return.

Going deep into any story is BYOS(ubtext).

The world's weird because the humans apparently believe in an omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient being and-at-the-same-time that things happen that he doesn't control. There could be a clockmaker god with a pantheon of angels that causes the effects. The humans believe that it's god causing the visitations, but it's not like we have any direct evidence that this is caused by the god and not just the angels doing things on their own. For all we know the god's dead and this is the angels trying to carry out what they think are his wishes. It's somewhat clear from the description of the fallen angel visitations that there's a multiverse outside the mortal plane we're not shown.

 

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Ocicat

  • Castle Watchcat
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3710
  • Anything for a Weird Life
Reply #40 on: February 14, 2009, 08:53:48 PM
Maybe we don't know if God is dead in the story, but either way, we know that loving him has a real effect - since everyone can see the souls of the faithful rise, and those that don't love god fall.

So I don't really see if it matter if he's still around.  You still have the choice to love him or not, and that choice matters.



roguewest

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #41 on: February 16, 2009, 02:58:12 PM
I almost turned this off  2 minutes in because it was agonizing to listen to, and it was looking like we were about to be preached at rather than entertained. But I suffered through the poor audio quality and flat narration trusting PodCastle to present a good story (not a religious surmon), but I sadly realized my first fears were correct.

I can't find myself caring for these sheep who blindly follow anything, let alone an uncaring egocentric deity. Therefor I cared less and less for their plight as the story went on. Frankly I found the ending way too preachy for a fantasy story.

I keep being reminded of R.A. Heinlein's quote:
Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
-Lazarus Long, Time Enough for Love



DigitalVG

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 38
Reply #42 on: February 17, 2009, 09:14:27 PM
Something I haven't seen mentioned in the comments that's long bothered me about the whole 'Heaven' thing, that I thought worth mentioning.

Why would anyone want it?  Everything is love and happy and perfect?  Honestly?  Blah.  If that's what you're looking for, start doing heroine regularly.

Are people really so insecure they want nothing more than love love love?

I _like_ being mortal and having faults and not knowing all the answers.  I like learning and reaching and growing and becoming something new and better and more beautiful.  To me, there is no greater joy than the absence of god.    I mean, if god is everything and total knowledge and perfect love, and all that then...  Really...  What's the point?

Imagine how it must be to BE God.  Everything is you.  EVERYTHING is YOU.  There's nothing to learn, there's nothing to do, there's nothing to love.  There are no questions you can ask.  You might be able to experience being each and every person, each and every atom but YOU have set the rules.  You've predestined how all this stuff is likely to play out.  Even with free will, people's behaviors are pretty easy to describe in mass societal senses and YOU exist outside of time.  You'll experience everything that every single one of them do.  You'll know it all and on some level, it's all fake, all artificial because you created them and they are just imperfect reflections of you.  You are God, and you are forever forsaken from heaven yourself because there is NO heaven for you.  You are unique.  You are eternally alone and there is nothing else out there...  Or maybe there is.  Maybe God has gods and a heaven s/he aspires to.  Perhaps the whole universe is the Buddha gazing into his own navel and man's God is just as broken and afraid as man is.

Perhaps ignorance truly is bliss because as long as you don't know it all, there is still stuff to learn.  Heaven, to me, seems far far worse than Hell.  Living, learning, growing, changing.  Life is Heaven.  I often feel a bit sorry for the devout.  They're in Heaven right now, and I imagine that if they get to the Heaven they imagine, they'll in time learn that it is Hell. :/

Neil is a fool.  He loves his wife, he loves God, but he does not love himself.  IMO, that's why he went to Hell.  He was given a great gift.  One day he might awaken to it.  Janice...  Same thing.  She was told to love herself, that her defects were the touch of God.  She devoted herself to that.  God took this away so she might learn to love herself but she was so concerned with loving God that she didn't understand it.  Her wish was granted, but ultimately, she'll probably go to Hell too.  Ethan...  I think he understood.  Having witnessed what happened to Neil and Janice, I think he understood the deeper truth.

For my own money...  I lead a good life, treat others as I'd like to be treated, try always to do what I believe is right, but really...  I'd prefer Hell or being sent back here to the standard description of Heaven.    I'd rather not be 'perfect'.



Erenna

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Reply #43 on: February 17, 2009, 09:38:51 PM
I found this story absolutely heartbreaking not only because of the tragic fate of the main character but also because I'm pretty sure there are some people out there that see the world and God like this and even more people who think this is the world that I believe in.

Unlike most people who have commented I don't think this is a world with irrefutable evidence for God.  There is clear evidence for Angels and the supernatural but I see no God in this world certainly not the God I believe in.  To me the world of the story is the titular Hell of the absence of God.  In my world God is not arbitrary and capricious although to our limited perspective it can seem that way just as a parents' rules (don't eat your boogers, do eat your peas) may seem arbitrary to the perspective of a toddler.  

The biggest differences is this requirement for getting into heaven, in the story they were required to love a god who did nothing to warrant that love, in my understanding of our world it is God who loves us, a lot!  My God does not require me to love him* although he greatly desires it.  The only absolute requirement as I understand it is that we accept HIS love and the sacrifice that Jesus made in love.  Now generally this acceptance leads to a reciprocation but it is a result not a requirement.

I apologize if I've gotten a bit preachy but I thought it important to point out just how fundamentally different this story is from what I as a theist believe.

*I use the male pronoun not because I think God is fundamentally male but simply because our language requires gender for animate beings and in his inspired scripture and the person of Jesus God chose to represent his/her/itself as a him.  I personally think God both contains all gender and is beyond gender, but that's neither here nor there.



DigitalVG

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 38
Reply #44 on: February 17, 2009, 10:34:08 PM
The only absolute requirement as I understand it is that we accept HIS love and the sacrifice that Jesus made in love.

So...  If you were born into a Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, or Muslim family and maybe you don't have communication with any Christians, you're not getting into heaven?  That still seems pretty petty to me.

Jesus was just a man.  He had some nice ideas and said some nice things, but I don't think he had all the answers.

I actually was thinking about this story a bit and comparing Neil and Janice with Job and Jesus.

God was pretty friggin sadistic to Job, and the premise of the story is that he bet the devil that Job was a devout, then tortured the poor guy just to prove how faithful Job was.

Jesus on the other hand was often times a pretty errant child.  (Particularly if you read the texts that were not included in the bible)  But even in the bible, he abuses his power.  There's that bit with the fig tree, "If you will not serve me, you with wither and DIE!" and Jesus cast out his hand and the tree withered and died.

But back on Job.  Job kept worshipping God throughout.  That was the bet.  When Jesus was crucified, he said, "God!  Why have you forsaken me?"  You can take various readings of that.  The one I take is that he was failing the very test that would have cost Job his eternal soul.  Seems more than  a bit unfair.

Honestly though, Jesus was executed in large part by Hebrew law because there'd been a number of 'messiahs', false prophets, and whatnot.  Saul/Paul was the big proponent who claimed he was the son of God, but Saul had a pretty serious agenda in terms of a unified religion for Rome that would revolutionize the tax system and make Rome far more powerful.  He was really a pretty rotten guy IMO.

Still.  I'd be very careful about asserting one religion is THE path to enlightenment.  To do so implies that God is exceptionally cruel and has sent large portions of the world population to Hell for no other reason than because they were born in a land far away from the 'chosen' people.



stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #45 on: February 18, 2009, 02:46:42 AM
Jesus was just a man.  He had some nice ideas and said some nice things, but I don't think he had all the answers.

I actually was thinking about this story a bit and comparing Neil and Janice with Job and Jesus.

God was pretty friggin sadistic to Job, and the premise of the story is that he bet the devil that Job was a devout, then tortured the poor guy just to prove how faithful Job was.

Jesus on the other hand was often times a pretty errant child.  (Particularly if you read the texts that were not included in the bible)  But even in the bible, he abuses his power.  There's that bit with the fig tree, "If you will not serve me, you with wither and DIE!" and Jesus cast out his hand and the tree withered and died.

But back on Job.  Job kept worshipping God throughout.  That was the bet.  When Jesus was crucified, he said, "God!  Why have you forsaken me?"  You can take various readings of that.  The one I take is that he was failing the very test that would have cost Job his eternal soul.  Seems more than  a bit unfair.

Honestly though, Jesus was executed in large part by Hebrew law because there'd been a number of 'messiahs', false prophets, and whatnot.  Saul/Paul was the big proponent who claimed he was the son of God, but Saul had a pretty serious agenda in terms of a unified religion for Rome that would revolutionize the tax system and make Rome far more powerful.  He was really a pretty rotten guy IMO.

You say all this as if Jesus were an actual historical figure.  But that's a whole 'nother barrel of fish.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


DigitalVG

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 38
Reply #46 on: February 18, 2009, 04:08:35 AM
You say all this as if Jesus were an actual historical figure.  But that's a whole 'nother barrel of fish.

Does it really matter whether or not he actually existed as a living being?  He's a character of parable and at least as real as Buddha, Abraham, Nasrudin, Moses, King Arthur, and so on.  Stories about him have made a profound impact on the world.  Even if he never physically existed, he's been far more 'real' than 99.9% of the people who've ever lived.
 



stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #47 on: February 18, 2009, 05:55:03 AM
You say all this as if Jesus were an actual historical figure.  But that's a whole 'nother barrel of fish.

Does it really matter whether or not he actually existed as a living being?  He's a character of parable and at least as real as Buddha, Abraham, Nasrudin, Moses, King Arthur, and so on.  Stories about him have made a profound impact on the world.  Even if he never physically existed, he's been far more 'real' than 99.9% of the people who've ever lived.
 

Saying
Quote
Jesus was just a man.  He had some nice ideas and said some nice things, but I don't think he had all the answers.
seems to me like a pretty firm assertion that he really existed.  But I've never seen any documentation that he did, outside the Bible itself.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Swagman

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #48 on: February 19, 2009, 03:37:30 AM
Yes, it was tough listen due to the understated narration and the subject matter...but I also found it one of the psychologically scariest stories I have ever heard!

I liked the examination of a world where God is a universally accepted and a given presence. How would people react to events that were definitively God's handy work?  I found a compelling tension between the concepts of blind probability and God's will. We try our best to explain events in our own world with very little to go on but faith (or lack of it) and/or science and/or an acceptance of a chaotic universe tempered by natural laws. In the world of the story, the characters knew that almost everything was ordained - and all they could do was try to figure out why they had been singled out to experience such blessings or travesties. What a burden to bear! All they can do is wait for some supernatural event to reveal where they stand in God's graces. One would naturally spend their life trying to justify or explain their personal fortunes.  It could drive a man mad knowing God had simply chosen him to suffer (or prosper...or be ignored).

The main character, Niel, was pretty much a victim of God's will - through no fault of his own. He simply wasn't given the means of redemption - and yet he also experienced the ultimate perfection of knowing and loving God. And thats the rub - There is no Hell without the agonizing tension between having known God (even for an instant) and knowing you will never experience Him again. I imagine that everyone in Hell knows that despair (at least in the story's Hell). That's a really scary and depressing concept in my book - and I am not even remotely religious!



Tango Alpha Delta

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1778
    • Tad's Happy Funtime
Reply #49 on: February 25, 2009, 04:22:41 AM
Woof.  This story made me not love God.  :P

But seriously, this could have been so much shorter and more interesting without so much exposition.  I took the blase attitude of the angels and the complete ambivalence of God as a given; it was the most realistic part of the story to me.  Having the characters' various (and IMHO boring) motivations and attitudes spelled out in excruciating detail killed my joy, though.  I was stuck in traffic for most of the tale, and sat in my driveway for the last ~60 seconds hoping something worse than mere ennui would strike Kneel after suffering through all of that.

At least it was a better use of my time than listening to my local NPR station ask me for more money.


This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!