From November 2012:
“Until I was 12, I didn’t know other religions taught about hell. I’d been raised in midland South Carolina, where everything was hot and Baptist and deeply conservative. I was well acquainted with evangelical teachings about the lake of fire. But it was a tiny, insular religion I’d been around, and I’d thought hell was our idea and ours alone.
The night I learned differently was in the middle of a stifling hot summer. Church had just ended, but I’d left my bag inside. As I searched through the youth room for my purse, I came upon a small slip of paper. It was a chart, probably thrown together for a lesson I’d missed, that described crucial differences between three religions — Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Here were the views of three massive Abrahamic traditions on heaven, on sin, on birth and denial — all condensed for the minds of suburban teenagers in a southern church. And there, in the final column, were the views of the Christians, the Jews and the Muslims on Hell. As my eyes skimmed the paper, I felt dread for the first time.”
You can read the rest of the post here. I wrote it all in one long swoop of energy, with the idea of slamming the door on some of the anxiety that dogged me as a kid. I don’t think that ever really happens, but when I finished it and hit post, I felt relieved — and grateful for the grace in my life since those 12-year-old fears first surfaced.