Ash Wednesday: What is hell to you?

I opined that the old guy was in his own hell, and Catbird agreed.

I don’t think a whole lot about hell. Well, not since I was growing up with the concept constantly slipped into every third sermon I heard.

One of the things that started my long withdrawal from church in my twenties had a hell of a lot to do with what some said happened after death.

Specifically, it was the notion that everyone who didn’t accept Jesus as their savior was going to some fiery pit in the next life. That would include someone in a remote village in Nepal or person on a tiny island in the Pacific. (This is why we “needed” so many missionaries.)

Still, I think there is a “hell.” My good friend Catbird is reading “The Da Vinci Code,” which I’ve never even started. The motivation was partly because the book is on the PBS “Great American Read” list.

But it was also because some old acquaintance of Catbird’s said it was the work of the devil, which made it more enticing. My friend emailed the acquaintance to ask what event or character had informed his opinion, figuring he had never actually read the story. He replied that Catbird was going to hell and that his words were a warning.

Catbird shared the opinion that both heaven and hell are what one chooses to make of one’s circumstances. A life-altering experience has deeply informed my friend that death is nothing to fear.

I opined that the old guy was in his own hell, and Catbird agreed. And from appearances, it seems “entirely self-inflicted… and possibly addictive.” Catbird heard on the radio about the door to hell being locked from the inside and thought that it applied especially well to him.

So what is hell to you? Is it a physical place after we leave this mortal coil? Is it something else? Does it not exist at all? Maybe you’re hedging your bet.

This Lenten discussion immediately brought to mind a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong: You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth, recorded by The Temptations and Undisputed Truth.

Valentine’s Day is Ash Wednesday

Being selfless can be a self-centered act.

Without looking, I knew I would find this sentence in some news source: “Parishioners… think Valentine’s Day is actually a great day to start Lent.” Romantic love, Jesus’ love, and all that.

This resonates, even though Lent is intended for sacrifice and February 14 is usually keyed to indulging in candy, more in line with Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras, which immediately precedes Lent.

But I’ve heard enough Ash Wednesday and other Lenten sermons to make the case that indulging and sacrificing do not have to be that far apart. Traditionally, Christian believers tend to put aside a particular vice such as the chocolate that is a favored treat.

Perhaps you can make a sacrifice of your time to indulge the human need of personal connection. Maybe it’d be a visit to someone you hadn’t seen in a while. Or a handwritten letter, rather than email. Or an honest-to-goodness phone call, not merely a text.

Maybe you can do something for someone else. Random Acts Of Kindness Raise Dopamine Levels And Boost Your Mood. Being selfless can be a self-centered act.

And it does not need to be a large gesture. Opening a door… and giving advice are wonderful ways to give. “Anytime we step outside of ourselves long enough to help someone else, something wonderful is waiting for us when we return: the Happiness Trifecta neurochemicals are all boosted!”

When I was a kid, you could always tell which of your classmates were Catholic by their “dirty foreheads” on Ash Wednesday. But somewhere along the line, the mainline Protestant churches “gave up” on the rejection of this ritual and embraced it instead.

Here is vlogbrothers: “Two Love Stories”

Finally, here again is my favorite Valentine’s Day song, by Steve Earle.

If I could I would deliver to you
Diamonds and gold; it’s the least I can do
So if you’ll take my IOU
I could make it up to you
Until then I hope my heart will do
For Valentine’s Day

Circular question answering New York Erratic

Let me say that while Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful and all, there seems to be a lot of sense of obligation.

happinessrunsAnd in an act that defies logic, I am now answering questions that New York Erratic answered for me, even though I gave them to her, based on questions Lisa posted, and which Dustbury also answered… Oh never mind.

1. What is your dream vacation spot and why?

It would be a place by the water, preferably running water, like a river or waterfalls, because I love water; maybe it’s the Pisces in me. It would be neither too hot nor too cold. MaybeVictoria Falls, in September.

2. Where did you come up with the name of your blog?

There was a long-running radio talk show called Rambling with Gambling, from which I got the Ramblin’ part. The Roger part, I have no idea.

3. How do you define blogging success?

It really does vary. While I don’t especially care, when my Times Union blog is trending, or when Chuck Miller declares it one of the week’s 10 best, I enjoy that.

But the real success is that I find people with whom to have reasonable, usually rational, dialogue. Such as with New York Erratic.

4. What is your favorite type of “going out” entertainment?

I like going to the movies because I like seeing movies in the theater. Watching videos often creates the temptation to pause it and do something else. That’s OK with something I’ve seen before, but not the first time. That’s why I ultimately canceled Netflix; I had The Hurt Locker for four or five months, and never found two solid hours to watch it without The Daughter around, or being too tired, or too busy.

5. How many states (name them) have you lived in?

North Carolina (for four months). New York (the rest of my life.)

6. What is your favorite holiday and why?

Ash Wednesday. Let me say that while Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful and all, there seems to be a lot of sense of obligation. The beginning of Lent is a time of quiet reflection. When I was a kid, it was only the Catholics I knew that got the ashes on the forehead, but lots of Protestant churches, including the last two I’ve belong to, participate, and I think it’s an easy, but symbolic, way for religious rapprochement.

7. What’s your favorite number and why?

I really do like zero. It’s nothing, yet it’s massive in combination. It’s that dividing line between the positive and the negative. What’s not to like?

8. What would be your dream vehicle to own?

Some motorized bicycle that I’d turn on for hills, and pedal otherwise.

9. What is your favorite hobby?

I suppose it’s singing, though, until you brought it up, I never thought of singing as a hobby, but rather just WHAT I DO, WHO I AM. Or blogging.

10. How do you try and keep your blog fresh?

I change the blog filter every 3,000 miles. Cereally, I actually plotted out 2014, or parts of it. I decided on my ABC Wednesday topics for every week in Round 14, back in October; didn’t write them, of course, but knowing what I was going to write about gets the brain working. Then I found the half dozen people who turn 70 I want to write about. Then there are holidays and observances. And anything I find interesting I don’t have anything to write about, I link to at the end of the month. This leaves the rest of the time for movie reviews and life experiences. In other words, I throw the blog against the wall and see what sticks.

11. Where do you do your best thinking?

In the shower, or riding the stationary bike. Or when I first wake up, which is why I like to blog when I first wake up (and don’t particularly like to blog at night).

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial