I think there are likely different levels of Hell – if you are on the upper floors you likely did bad things, but the lower floors and the basement are reserved for the truly heinous offenders. A Hotel Hell if you will – similar to Hotel California, where you can checkout any time you’d like, but can never leave. A Hotel Hell makes sense to me as there are levels of bad behavior, sin, and atrocities – there are shades in evil – hence, there are floors in Hell. Going down anyone?
One wonders where the line of redemption is between Heaven and Hell. If you do something wrong in life and you do time in prison, find God, and then live a wholesome life do you then go to Heaven or do you still go to Hell – just a higher floor in Hell? What is the potential for remediation of bad deeds while living on planet Earth? And is all remediation just to then achieve placement at a higher floor in Hell? Are positive steps after bad acts merely movement upward away from the molten lava toward the still miserable, but decidedly more tolerable Arizona Desert? I wonder about these things…not because I plan on going to Hell, but because I know some folks that are and I want to have an appreciation of what they will face upon arriving for eternity.
Not that I am bitter. I just want to know that there is something beyond the punishment received here for those who knowingly do wrong and hurt others in the process. I want to know that there is an accountability that reaches far beyond what can be imposed here in a simple human lifetime.
I also really want to know that those who steal from places like churches and non-profits – places where other folks donate their hard-earned money to help others who are less fortunate – get a floor in Hotel Hell. You would think that those who steal money from churches would be really asking for it. I mean seriously, if you do wrong while doing the work of God, you are clearly asking for some serious retribution. I often wonder how pissed off God is at pedophile priests, pastors and reverends. All I can say to those who cloak their misdeeds in their alleged connection to God is bring your 250 spf sunblock folks – I think you will be staying in the lower floors of Hotel Hell.
But what of these folks who embezzle from churches, synagogues, temples and mosques? Where do you suppose they go? Do you think it matters if they pay back the money? I think to pay back the money they have to be: 1) caught; and, 2) prosecuted. Unfortunately, these crimes often are not caught and frequently are not reported even when they are caught. You can imagine the backlash that would be felt by churches and other organizations that benefit from charitable giving if the givers believed that embezzlement was occuring. Who wants to give to an embezzler?
There is an interesting article in The Forum today by Sherri Richards that talks about this issue. Per the article, a survey done for an article in Fraud Magazine that focused on fraud in U.S. houses of worship found that “13.4 percent of church leaders interviewed acknowledged they had experienced fraud within their organization in the past five years.” According to the Fraud Magazine, this crime is “seriously under-reported” and rarely prosecuted. I think this under-reporting and lack of prosecution sets the stage for more of the same.
And lest you think we are talking $20-$40 petty thefts from the church collection plate – think again. Richards’ article provides a few local examples to include a Reverend from Valley City, ND who was accused of stealing $189,000 from the church. That is an awful lot of money for a church in a community that size to lose. The Reverend never did go to jail, despite an effort to have him prosecuted. He reportedly paid back $67,000 of the stolen funds.
No worries, Reverend…the tidy sum you took from that church has allowed you to reserve a special place in Hotel Hell – use the money you have left to invest in sunblock. Remember…you can checkout any time you’d like, but you can never leave.
Day nine hundred and fifty-eight of the new forty – obla di obla da