“So how did you figure this out exactly?” The pope asks the government officials sent to see him about the problem.
“That’s hardly the problem.” The US official said exasperatedly. “We’re more concerned with the millions dying every day than the research that led to this.”
“All the same.” The pope said. “I have not seen the report myself, only the news stories. So tell me, how was this discovered?”
The US official sighed and put his head in his hands, but the Italian official spoke up. “There was a news story a couple months back about a couple near death experiences of death row victims who all reported seeing lights, hearing angels, and just generally having an experience of heaven when they died.” The official explained. “This prompted some psychology students to go do a survey of near death experiences of convicts which then discovered that all convicts, when they had a near death experience, reported similar visions of the afterlife. The study got leaked before it got sent out for review, and the rest is history.”
“Has the study been published?” The pope asked.
“No.” The Italian official responded.
“Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. Contact the medical college in charge of investigating miracles, the WHO, the CDC, and any other legitimate biological research community. Have them forward you all the relevant studies on brain chemistry of people in various near death situations. They will no doubt demonstrate to you that when people nearly die their brains can enter a state similar to that of a drug addict. Dying does substantially affect brain chemistry you know. Once you get the news outlets to start circulating the studies I will contact my brethren in the Christian, Islamic, and jewish communities to begin circulating the relevant theological background. I will also personally forward to you gentlemen a few papers that have postulated the following. 1: The devil is very good at deceiving. 2: This is nothing new. 3: People who don’t actually die haven’t actually seen the after life. They do call it a ‘near’ death experience afterall.”
You walk into a white room. It’s a familiar sort of white room. You know you’ve died and are about to be judged. In front of you is a file with notecards on it. A quick glance tells you that on these notecards are everything you’ve ever done. Every thought you’ve ever had. Every website you’ve ever been to. It’s all there. You recoil with horror at the sheer quantity of the negative. There are a few gems here and there, but they’re drowned in a sea of taint. Shuddering you put the notecards back and turn away. You look for the stairway down. You don’t want to be up here with all the people who have clean files. You’d rather find someplace where there are other people like you who you can stand to look in the eye.
Then a funny thing happens. A single man walks in from somewhere and picks up your file. He has a file of his own, but it’s glowing white. You want to turn away and run before this person can see what you’ve done, but you stand there and watch as he opens the file and looks at the first notecard. You see the site address on it and cringe. Not that one, anything but that one. You know you’re done now. Only, instead of banishing you he takes out a quill that’s dripping red, and writes his name on the card. No, he can’t take that burden. You did that, not him. He takes a second card, one that has a girl’s name on it, and writes his name on the card. You watch helplessly as he takes every single bad card out of the file and writes his name on it before turning to you and saying “You were never meant to carry the weight of this. I will carry it for you. Come now and rest, your burden has been removed.” Sidenote: This was directed at the OP, so it’s to be expected if not everybody gets it.
Hell is real, and everyone goes there when they die. Audio of this story can be found at: http://clyp.it/pr413b1i Things had gone cold, numb, and dark, and then suddenly reversed themselves. I was laying down, now I was standing up, and it was as bright as summer at midday, and warm too. My closed eyes were opened and I saw a great line of people stretching forward toward a gate. I did it. I had died. Now I was on my way to my eternal reward. I looked up at the heavenly gate, and saw inscribed in gold above it ‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here’. There must be some mistake! I had lived a good life, I had followed the commandments, never missed a church service. I was a good man! I tried to turn around and walk away, but my feet kept taking me forward, and I couldn’t look away. It was like some great hand was pushing me towards this eternal fate. I now saw there were great fires roaring above the gates, and could hear distant sounds and awful sounds. “It’s alright son.” A middle aged man in front of me said. “We are all going to the same place.” “It can’t be!” I shouted back to him. “It can’t!” Did he say we all go to the same place? “Did you say we all go to the same place!” He nodded. “That’s right son.” He sounded so calm! How could he sound calm? Didn’t he know where we were going? “Don’t you know where we’re going!” I shouted at him. Again, he nodded, still calm as ever. The sounds were louder now, I could make them out to be screams. We were over halfway to a burning eternity. Without a hint of fear in his voice he responded. “We are all going together. That’s how it’s always been. That’s how it always will be.” I couldn’t believe this. Hell was here, that means god existed right? Did he have such high standards? Did he think no one was worth saving? “But why?” I demanded of him. “Is no one saved from this.” The man shook his head. How could he not be weeping with terror from this? “It’s not so bad.” The man told me in a level voice. “We’ll all be there together.” He sounded comforted by the thought, and yet. As he said this, my fear lessened, just a hair. Part of me had feared that hell meant being separated from everyone, being alone forever. Now, if what this man said was true, I would have company. Would that be so bad? “Does that mean my parents will be here?” I asked him. “And my wife? And the three children she lost before she could carry them to term?” He nodded. My heart rose. I still dreaded what was coming, but it was more like the fear of getting on a roller coaster. You dreaded the moment, maybe even feared for your life, but it wasn’t the worst thing. We were almost to the gate now, and I could pick out individual voices. In a minute it would be all over. “Have faith friend.” The man in front of me said. Have faith? In what? In god? He had sent us all here. I couldn’t imagine why I should have faith in him. He had forsaken us. “Why has god forsaken us?” I asked my friend. We had reached the gates now, and it was my friend’s turn to step into the fire. He turned around, and held out his hands to me. I gasped. There were holes from nails in both of his hands. I could move my head now, and looked down to see holes in his feet as well, and I knew that face. It didn’t look exactly like it did in the movies, but it was close enough to be recognizable. “Jesus.” I said, my voice low. I felt like I should kneel or something. He had said everyone comes here, and I didn’t realize that included god’s own son. “Come friend.” He told me. I looked into his face. It would be alright. I realized. Here was a man willing to die for me, and then take me by the hand to eternal damnation. “You know what.” I told him, reaching out to take one of his hands and step into the fire. “I think I would rather spend eternity burning with you, then one day in heaven by myself.” Jesus smiled at my words as we stepped forward, and I felt an intense burning sensation that made we want to cry out. This was it, an eon of pain. Then it vanished. I felt a cool pleasant breeze and something soft beneath my feet. I looked down and saw not fire, but a cloud. I looked up to see the face of Jesus again. His smile had broadened. “All those times you went to church. You weren’t choosing between fire or clouds.” He told me. “You were choosing between yourself and me. So when I bled out and descended to the dead. I returned the favor and chose you over me.” He swept his hand outward to show a vast expanse of gold robed figures on clouds that were assembled like a football stadium as far and as high as the eye could see. “And so did all these people choose others before themselves.” I marveled at the expanse of it, and I now felt that the breeze had a spirit to it that warmed me, and there was now an older man at my side putting his hand around my shoulder. “Let us go together.” The old man told me in the most reassuring voice I ever heard. “You chose an eternity with us, and you shall have it. All our family and friends are right this way.”