Back of the North Wind

Discussions of theology, philosophy, religion and life inspired by the writings of George MacDonald (and perhaps others such as CS Lewis) posted by "recovering fundamentalists".

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I am a "recovering fundamentalist". The trick is to figure out how not to throw out the Baby with the bathwater. I learn through dialogue, and so invite commentary on my posts to Back of the North Wind.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Imaginary Friend (My Favorite Book, Part II)

My son announced yesterday that he has an Imaginary Friend. After discussing this with him for awhile, I began to think about some of what I'd been reading both from George MacDonald and also in the blogosphere, where someone was comparing God to an imaginary friend. [Update: It was Bill Maher, as quoted in the Thinklings Weblog.] In my favorite book, At the Back of the North Wind (for which this blog is named) there is a haunting passage towards the end, where little Diamond meets the beautiful wise woman, North Wind, after a long time apart. He's troubled by the thought that she might be only an imaginary friend:

"Please, dear North Wind," he said, "I am so happy that I'm afraid it's a dream. How am I to know that it's not a dream?"

"What does it matter?" returned North Wind.

"I should, cry" said Diamond.

"But why should you cry? The dream, if it is a dream, is a pleasant one -- is it not?"

"That's just why I want it to be true."

"Have you forgotten what you said to Nanny about her dream?"

"It's not for the dream itself -- I mean, it's not for the pleasure of it," answered Diamond, "for I have that, whether it be a dream or not; it's for you, North Wind; I can't bear to find it a dream, because then I should lose you. You would be nobody then, and I could not bear that. You ain't a dream, are you, dear North Wind? Do say No, else I shall cry, and come awake, and you'll be gone for ever. I daren't dream about you once again if you ain't anybody."

"I'm either not a dream, or there's something better that's not a dream, Diamond," said North Wind, in a rather sorrowful tone, he thought.

"But it's not something better -- it's you I want, North Wind," he persisted, already beginning to cry a little.

CS Lewis describes this longing in both Surprised by Joy and A Pilgrim's Regress. In Regress, Lewis' vision of the transcendent is a far off Island. The protagonist complains, when he learns that his search for the Island seems to be leading him to God and Christianity, that what he believes he is searching for is more of a place, not a person. Just as Diamond tells North Wind, "it's you I want, North Wind, not something better."

After more dialogue and a long pause, North Wind finally answers Diamond:

"I think," said she, after they had been sitting silent for a while, "that if I were only a dream, you would not have been able to love me so."

So that, not only is the Imaginary Friend, the Far-off Island, or any of the other inumerable forms that the Longing for Joy takes (for me it can be a mountain, a hiking trail, a sailboat), a symbol of something that is better, but there must be something real in the symbol that we will meet in the "something better".

And this dialogue with North Wind, this understanding of a longing for something that doesn't seem as first blush to be God, is another reason why At the Back of the North Wind is my favorite book.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Incarnation

From a Siris post quoting Augustine:

Thus in a certain fashion our word becomes a bodily sound by assuming that in which it is manifested to the senses of men, just as the Word of God became flesh by assuming that in which it too could be manifested to the senses of men.

The reader can find the entire Siris post on language as an analogy for the Incarnation here. The whole discussion relates to a thread which I intend to introduce to this blog soon: George MacDonald on "The Word of God".

Meanwhile, however, let me throw in my own favorite analogy from Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott, pub. 1884. In this ironic fantasy of a two-dimensional world, the creatures are two-dimensional shapes such as triangles (the soldier castes are icosceles), squares, and so on, up to the priest class, which are circles. At some point later in the story, a three-dimensional being (a sphere) comes into contact with the two-dimensional world. The creatures in the two-dimensional world could only perceive a two-dimensional slice of the sphere: to them, the sphere appeared as a circle, which however, seemed to be able to change its size at will (as the sphere moved through the plane of Flatland). Here is some of the dialogue between the Sphere and the poor Pentagon (the main character in the book) who is struggling with the apparition of this strange moving circle. Starting with the Sphere:

I have told you I can see from my position in Space the inside of all things that you consider closed. For example, I see in yonder cupboard near which you are standing, several of what you call boxes (but like everything else in Flatland, they have no tops or bottom) full of money; I see also two tablets of accounts. I am about to descend into that cupboard and to bring you one of those tablets. I saw you lock the cupboard half an hour ago, and I know you have the key in your possession. But I descend from Space; the doors, you see, remain unmoved. Now I am in the cupboard and am taking the tablet. Now I have it. Now I ascent with it.

I rushed to the closet and dashed the door open. One of the tablets was gone. With a mocking laugh, the Stranger appeared in the other corner of the room, and at the same time the tablet appeared upon the floor. I took it up. There could be no doubt -- it was the missing tablet.

I groaned with horror, doubting whether I was not out of my sense; but the Stranger continued: "Surely you must now see that my explanation, and no other, suits the phenomena. What you call Solid things are really superficial; what you call Space is really nothing but a great Plane. I am in Space, and look down upon the insides of the things of which you only see the outsides. You could leave the Plane yourself, if you could but summon up the necessary volition. A slight upward or downward motion would enable you to see all that I can see.

"The higher I mount, and the further I go from your Plane, the more I can see, though of course I see it on a smaller scale. For example, I am ascending; now I can see your neighbour the Hexagon and his family in their several apartments; now I see the inside of the Theatre, ten doors off, from which the audience is only just departing; and on the other side a Circle in his study, sitting at his books. Now I shall come back to you. And, as a crowning proof, what do you say to my giving you a touch, just the least touch, in your stomach? It will not seriously injure you, and the slight pain you may suffer cannot be compared with the mental benefit you will receive."

I've always thought that was an interesting picture for the Incarnation: God, being one who transcends our dimensionality, intersects the world in a form recognizable to our world -- a human life, albeit a unique one.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

George MacDonald: Scottish Brogue

One of the things I really enjoy about George MacDonald novels, such as Sir Gibbie and Heather and Snow is his use of the native dialect -- the Scottish Brogue. The "Summary" printed on the inside cover of the latter is humorous: "...Written with vigorous vernacular."

Here's an example of that "vigorous vernacular". Heather and Snow opens with a conversation between a girl with her feet on the ground and a boy with his head in the clouds:

'I'll no hae the warl' lichtly me!' he said.

'Mebbe the warl' winna tribble itsel aboot ye sae muckle as e'en to lichtly ye!' returned his companion quietly.

Did you follow that?

I found the dialogue tricky at first, but that it eventually sort of flows over and into you. And then, it's just a wonderful read, because you really do feel more inundated in that world. It's the same effect that happens when reading one of Patrick O'Brien's novels (made popular recently by the movie Master and Commander), where the language is seafaring old-world and the reader is left to sink or swim. One learns to swim, and then finds the water enjoyable.

For my birthday a couple of years ago I bought (from the wonderful folks at Johannsen Family Publisher) a complete set of George MacDonald's written works. Sometimes, when I choose the next book to read, I am "in the mood" for some Scottish Brogue, and look first to make sure the novel has some dialect in the dialogue.

And here's my transliteration (GMD helps with "lichtly"):

"I'll not have the world make light of me!" he said.

"Maybe the world won't trouble itself about you so much as even to make light of you." returned his companion, quietly.

It occurs to me one could have a "Scottish Brogue" quote of the day, and let the reader attempt translation. Okay, here's one, from Castle Warlock:

"Whan the coo loups ower the mune,
The reid gowd rains intil men's shune."

I invite translations in the comments...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Meta-Post #2

"Meta-Post": a post about posting and this blog. Thanks to Siris from whom I stole (the sincerest form of flattery?) the html-formatting for my redesigned panel and web-links. So now instead of a continuous set of links, I have separated out the web-links into the following:

  • George MacDonald related sites
  • Sites that provide convenient resources relevant to this blog: I especially like the Bible Quote site--though I wonder if they would approve of the way I use it?!
  • Sites that are on-topic for the threads discussed here, but are not specifically George MacDonald sites, and
  • An actual "blogroll".


  • Siris is the first of several blogs related to religion and philosophy I have discovered in this new world of the "blogosphere". The author, Brandon Watson, is a professor of (UPDATE: finishing graduate school and teaching classes in) Philosophy at the University of Toronto. The continuous posts on his blog occasionally stretch my comprehension, which is a good thing.
  • Mark Roberts, a Prolific Presbyterian Pastor (hey -- how about that alliteration?) who can crank out sermon-blogs faster than I can read them.
  • North Western Winds, a blog by a Canadian who says he is inspired by JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and GK Chesterton. Anyone inspired by that crew is someone who might inspire me too.
  • Reflections of a Happy Old Man. Here I have seen some thought-provoking posts about the origin of faith, and some comparisons between Christianity and Buddhism. As with the other blogs in this roll, I don't select blogs based on whether or not I agree with them, but whether or not I find them interesting.
  • The Dawn Treader. Well, when I was growing up, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, book 3 (original ordering) of the Narnia Chronicles, by CS Lewis, was my favorite book. I loved especially the chapter on the "Island of Dreams", the story of the wizard and the monopods, the island where Caspian finds a fallen star, the redemption of Eustace (who had been turned into a dragon), and the final voyage of Reepicheep. So I can't help but tune in to this one.
  • Thinklings, which I take to be a mutation of "Inklings". This seems to be a pretty fancy community blog which pays homage to CS Lewis and company (Tolkien and Williams), and has interesting threads recently such as "Is Judas in Hell", to which I've responded in this blog. I think the Thinklings discussion in this case went in a more traditional direction than I did, but I enjoy the topic nevertheless. The site tends to delve into politics and trivia pretty often, not that there's anything wrong with that.
  • The Micah Mandate, which I discovered while composing this post! I'm interested in the discussion about Shermer and skepticism, since I'm sympathetic to healthy skepticism, but while atheism can be made self-consistent, I don't think a completely consistent atheistic world view will be found to be livable.

Oh, and finally, Meta-Post #1 is here, but is completely uninteresting. Don't click through. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Is Judas In an Eternal Hell?

Jared at the Thinklings Blog today asks about the fate of Judas. I find this question interesting, and even led a Bible study on the subject once upon a time, based on the book by the Fuller Seminary professor Ray Anderson, The Gospel According to Judas. In the book, Anderson postulates an afterlife encounter between Jesus and Judas. The dialogue leads to Judas acceptance of Jesus' forgiveness. An example of that dialogue:

Judas: "I will always be remembered as the one who betrayed You. I had no explanation to give, no justification for my action. I regretted it immediately--but regret is a bitter tonic that never cures."

Jesus: "Betrayal is a transaction between two, the betrayer and the betrayed, with both having a certain power in the exchange. Your power, Judas, was to destroy the relation; Mine to preserve it."

What I found so powerful about this book is the idea that Judas could be redeemed, and therefore, so can I. The subtitle to Anderson's book is: "Is There a Limit to God's Forgiveness?". Anderson answers with a resounding, "No." I think George MacDonald and Ray Anderson would have had a lot in common.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Eternal Hell (Part III): Virgil for CS Lewis

For many years, my favorite book was The Great Divorce, by CS Lewis. I still read it at least once or twice a year, often aloud. The Great Divorce was written as a response to Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and is a little reminiscent of Dante's Inferno.

By the way, I never really enjoyed Dante's Inferno as much as it seems I ought -- there seems to be too much satire on Dante's local political situation, a situation into which I have no insight. A very enjoyable re-write, which focused on more universal topics, is Inferno, by sci-fi team Niven and Pohl.

Back to Lewis and The Great Divorce. The book is a series of vignettes where "Ghosts" (souls that have been somewhere unpleasant--purgatory, or hell, or something) leave a dreary town (representing hell) to meet "Bright Ones" (souls which are already on their journey to bliss) who interrupt their journey to return and speak with the Ghosts. Each Bright One, who during their lives had a relationship of some sort with the Ghost being met, attempts to convince the Ghost to come with the Bright One to heaven. The resulting dialogues are fascinating, enjoyable and familiar.

Part of the appeal of that story, and what is reminiscent of The Inferno, is that Lewis "channels" George MacDonald (GMD) as his own personal Virgil. What's interesting, in the context of the discussions of the GMD perspective on hell I've been posting here, is that Lewis doesn't seem quite altogether comfortable with GMD's view of hell. His channeling isn't quite the same as the original. Here is Lewis' dialogue between himself and George MacDonald, starting with Lewis:

"But I don't understand. Is judgement not final? Is there really a way out of Hell into Heaven?"

"It depends on the way ye're using the words. If they leave that grey town behind it will not have been Hell. To any that leaves it, it is Purgatory. And perhaps ye had better not call this country Heaven. Not Deep Heaven, ye understand." (Here he smiled at me.) "Ye can call those sad streets in the town yonder the Valley of the Shadow of Death: but to those who remain there they will have been Hell even from the beginning."
[Lewis eventually reposes the question]
"But there is a real choice after death? My Roman Catholic friends would be surprised, for to them souls in Purgatory are already saved. And my Protestant friends would like it no better, for they'd say that the tree lies as it falls."

"They're both right, maybe. Do not fash yourself with such questions. Ye cannot fully understand the relations of choice and Time till you are beyond both. And ye were not brought here to study such curiosities."
The dialogue continues, and Lewis wraps it up with the George MacDonald character concluding:
"Never fear. There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened."

Note that Lewis' punchline: "...those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'" has a sense of finality to it. (Emphasis mine.) George MacDonald would never surrender "the end" to man's will triumphing over God's.

But even though there are differences here between Lewis and MacDonald, there is more in common. MacDonald would certainly agree that "No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it." And he would especially approve of Lewis using the active verbs: "seek" and "knock".

And that's the most important part to take away, and why Lewis and MacDonald would probably both agree that we shouldn't "fash ourselves with such questions". (Though, it's hard for me to help "fashing" -- perhaps because I'm really "un-fashing" all the fundamentalist "fashing" that happened in my childhood religion.) "Seek", "Knock" and of course, "Obey".

And now it's time for me to go and re-read The Great Divorce!

Do Not Approach My Holy Mountain

"Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, 'Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows..."

This passage really bugged me, ever since I started my "recovery from fundamentalism". I mean, here God seems to be saying that no one can approach the mountain because it's so holy, they'll die. But, then, why does the mountain need guarding? Why the archers of Israel?

I remember asking about this in church, and being told, after the teacher became a bit exasperated, "Well, God said it, so it must be right." To which I replied, "Well, Moses may have said God said it." This was the point at which it occurred to me that another explanation was that Moses just didn't want anyone following him up the mountain. But that may be a bit cynical.

I was reminded of this today as I viewed a PBS Special describing Mauna Kea and the conflict between the needs of the astronomical community and native Hawaiian religious sensitivities. (Here's a summary of the production, called "First Light".) While Mauna Kea is probably the most perfect place on the planet to study the stars, the observatories placed there are seen by some native Hawaiians as a desecration of the holy mountain.

While I appreciate the idea of a special place which we try to preserve, the idea of a "holy location", i.e., where only certain people are allowed to go, seems to lead to trouble. For example, the aforementioned Mt. Sinai; the Holy of Holies, where unworthy priests might die; and the city of Jerusalem, which has certainly had its share of conflict through the millenia.

I guess I'd like to suggest that part of the story of Jesus is that he made the Holy Places (and items) available to everyone:

Mt. Sinai: the law given there was superceded

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Mark 2:23-28

The barrier to the Holy of Holies was rent

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Matthew 27:50-52

The city of Jerusalem

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:1-4

That last passage is quite a promise: no more death, nor more mourning or crying or pain. This sounds like the end even of hell, described by George MacDonald. And that is the consummation of Jesus making all of the Holy Places available to everyone, as everyone will have partaken in the holiness.

There will be no more need to keep anyone away from God's Holy Mountain.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Eternal Hell (Part II): The Consuming Fire

Excerpts from George MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons, Series 1, "The Consuming Fire":

Love is one, and love is changeless

For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more; it strives for perfection, even that itself may be perfected—not in itself, but in the object. As it was love that first created humanity, so even human love, in proportion to its divinity, will go on creating the beautiful for its own outpouring. There is nothing eternal but that which loves and can be loved, and love is ever climbing towards the consummation when such shall be the universe, imperishable, divine.

Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love’s kind, must be destroyed.

And our God is a consuming fire.

George MacDonald's punchline on how this relates to an eternal hell:

The man whose deeds are evil, fears the burning. But the burning will not come the less that he fears it or denies it. Escape is hopeless. For Love is inexorable. Our God is a consuming fire. He shall not come out till he has paid the uttermost farthing.

What will be the fate of the man in hell, and hell itself?

The outer darkness is but the most dreadful form of the consuming fire—the fire without light—the darkness visible, the black flame. God hath withdrawn himself, but not lost his hold. His face is turned away, but his hand is laid upon him still. His heart has ceased to beat into the man’s heart, but he keeps him alive by his fire. And that fire will go searching and burning on in him, as in the highest saint who is not yet pure as he is pure.

But at length, O God, wilt thou not cast Death and Hell into the lake of Fire—even into thine own consuming self? Death shall then die everlastingly,

And Hell itself will pass away

This is the difference between George MacDonald's version of hell, and what I have heard from the religious doctrines I heard in church. Rather than a place of final retribution, a wastebin of eternal vengeance, Hell is another expression of God's love, and is purposed, as is everything else, to the good of the individual there, and even to the good of all creation.

Friday, October 08, 2004

More on The Experiment

prof rob has weighed in on the result of his experiment. He had a different experience than I did, but also found it useful.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Eternal Hell (part I)

I took damnation for granted. Raised as a Conservative Baptist, the assumption was not only that those who had never heard the gospel were going to hell, but also the atheists, agnostics, Roman Catholics, all the cults, the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Methodists, probably most of the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, and certainly all of the Pentacostals. In fact, most of the other Baptist denominations were headed there too. To tell the truth, it wasn't very likely that even a majority of the Conservative Baptists were going to make it. Perhaps that's why, from about fourth grade through the end of high-school, I kept "praying the prayer", in case the previous 666 prayers hadn't taken.

Something finally clicked, when, during the course of my hobby of debunking Mormon theology (a sordid part of my past, when I would invite Mormon Missionaries as sort of an evangelical trap) I found that in Mormonism with its three kingdoms of the afterlife (the celestial, terrestrial and telestial), hell is reserved for only one class of person: not murderers, rapists, betrayers or any of the other folks in Dante's lowest circles of hell. Mormon hell is reserved for Mormons who reject the faith.

As I thought about how psychologically manipulative this was---"Don't change your mind or you'll go to hell!"---it finally dawned on me that my own church had been doing this same psychological manipulation on me my whole life. It was the beginning of freedom when I read books such as CS Lewis' The Great Divorce and Charles Williams' Descent Into Hell. These books postulate a different picture of hell than the Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" image of my childhood religion. Williams and Lewis seem to portray a hell which is a journey towards the dissolution of personhood. This seemed better to me than a vengeful God casting souls into a lava pit, where the smoke goes up "forever and ever" while the saints rejoice.

But MacDonald has an even much better understanding of what Hell might be, and to what purpose. A picture which I can see as positive. Stumbling on to MacDonald was like finding a light at the end of a long dark passage, or rather, like being given a rope to climb out of a pit.

(to be continued...)

Result of the Experiment

prof rob and I agreed to try an experiment for 24 hours, based on the George MacDonald "obedience" motif:

a) do what we already know to be right, and
b) associate those actions as "obedience to God".

This has certainly been educational, and I'll continue to think more about what has happened today. But some initial thoughts:

* I woke up earlier and with a sense of "mission" for the day. This was certainly a positive effect!

* As I started my daily routine, it occurred to me that instead of turning on the radio, as I normally do, I ought to spend the morning in more of a silent mode. First conscious decision. There's a little background, here. I'm a political entertainment addict, so turning off the radio is tough. I don't actually want to go into politics on this blog---there are plenty of other places in the blogosphere for that. So I spent the morning (and other alone times during the day) in silence. But failed later in the evening (see below).

* The hard parts of this assignment were:
1) controlling what I think about (I can't really)
2) trying to do the "association" part of the assignment, item (b) above, and
3) walking into the workplace and trying to remember the assignment at all during my workday.

* I had almost to have a little mantra throughout the day to remind myself of the assigment: "Do what you already know is right to do"

* There was a sense of "autopilot" for most of the day, and I think this may be something significant I take away from the experiment: a real sense of "choice" doesn't seem to come along that often. Much of what I do seems to be controlled by other choices I've already made. So one has to pay more attention to those choices that take away choice down the road. Things like career, or what kind of car you choose to drive: you can't easily change those choices on a day-by-day basis.

* I failed this evening: I watched the Vice Presidential debate. Not that there's anything wrong with watching the debate. But it was not the best use of me for that evening. I should have paid more attention to my kids. I really only watched it because I enjoy the political entertainment, not because I was trying to become a more educated voter.

That failure was a case where I obeyed the first part of what I knew was right to do (spend a day in relative silence without the radio or the "visual noise" of political blogs) and learned what else I had to do: skip a political debate and spend more time with my kids. I wonder, if I had done the right thing, would I have learned something else good to do?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Theology Matters

About 16 years ago, I attended the "Perspectives on the Wold Christian Movement" course at the US Center for World Mission. It was a very interesting and moving experience, though now as a "recovering fundamentalist" I have a somewhat different perspective on that course. The (thick) reader for the course includes an essay by J. Robertson McQuilkin titled "The Narrow Way" with a nice survey of the different theories of the fate of those who have not heard the gospel. McQuilkin illustrates with an example of

"The gracious girl in Japan who, brought up in the Buddhist tradition, has been a good daughter and a good wife and loving to her children but has never heard of Christ"

and quotes the parable of Jesus (Luke 12:47ff) in relation to her:

"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows."

As I hope to write in subsequent posts, George MacDonald makes much of this passage. McQuilkin, on the other hand, proceeds to other passages in Romans which hold us all "without excuse", and concludes that we only know of one "escape exit" from the fire. Not only had we better take it, but we had better do everything we can to make sure that "escape exit" (Salvation in the name of Jesus Christ) is made available to the world's masses who haven't yet heard about it.

So why does theology matter?

Because if you believe that the world's masses are going to an eternal hell if you don't intervene, then there is no means which is not justified in preventing that end. Abu Ghraib is only the beginning of that line of logic. The logic can end by justifying an Inquisition. Or on a more day-to-day level, the possibility of saving one more soul justifies the neglect of one's family.

The threat of an eternal hell is a psychological weapon of mass distruction.


prof rob and I are starting a 24-hour experiment, which begins at midnight this evening.