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Yoon Ha Lee wrote:

> I must be far, far off the beaten track.  I have never found the
> afterlife any sort of personal reason to believe in God.  <apologetic
> look>  I accept, with some discomfort (mainly concerning hell--which I
> also don't understand very well), that it's there.  The way I look at

With regard to the afterlife *per se*, I agree with you. When I was an
atheist, I was perfectly content that I would just die and have done with
it. When I became a Christian, I didn't suddenly develop a desire for
eternal life. What happened was that I came to believe that *God* wants
me in Heaven, and I wanted to do what God wants.

Eternal life per se isn't the point. The point is the idea of becoming
morally perfect beings - incapable of sin, or to put it another way,
capable of not sinning. I believe that God has a plan for the universe,
in which all things must be made perfect. That is the essence of my faith
(Ephesians 1:9).

Heaven cannot be imagined. I think the best rule of thumb is not to try
too hard, and to trust that God has infinitely more ingenuity and
imagination than we do. My cousin, who first convinced me to believe in
God, said, "The only thing I know about Heaven is it's better than this,
and this is pretty good".

As for Hell, I remember vividly that when I first became a Christian, the
idea of Hell was the one thing I remained supremely uncomfortable about.
Since then I've thought about it from time to time and come to a
vaguely satisfactory conclusion. As I've said, one aspect of this
conclusion is that Hell does not last forever. Brief discussion of Hell
at <http://web.netyp.com/member/dragon/god_theo.htm>.

> I am on this world to try, as best I can, to do God's will, whatever it
> may be (and I'm sure He thinks I make hash of it more often than I
> should...but God help me, I do try).

Good. For my part I never cease to be amazed at the idea of a God who
*still* hasn't given up on me!

> I look at religion as guidelines to what is right and what should be
> done.

In a sense, but in the case of Christianity it's a *much* more subtle
sense than following some list of instructions.

> If Christianity taught that we all fell into nonexistence after dying,
> having done His will (or tried), I would be content with that.

Yeah, but God wouldn't :-)

> Does something have to be imperfect for you to pray for it?  <puzzled
> look>  I often pray in thanks for the sky, the wind, the stars...(I'm
> afraid I'm too animistic for my own good)...is it also nonsensical to

Praying in *thanks*, oh yes, NOTHING wrong with that, absolutely nothing
at all. It's just not the impression I got from your previous message,
that's all.

And a final comment: you seem far too worried about 'getting it wrong'.
Even St Paul wrote, "My brothers, I do not claim to have grasped it even
now" (I don't have my Bible with me right now). Every single one of us is
'muddling through', as you put it.

--
web.       | Here and there I like to preserve a few islands of sanity
netyp.com/ | within the vast sea of absurdity which is my mind.
member/    | After all, you can't survive as an eight foot tall
dragon     | flesh eating dragon if you've got no concept of reality.