In writing a scene for Orphans, I recalled an episode in my own life that proved a turning point in my view of organized religion, and thought I would share it with you.
I was about age 10, at Sunday school in Newmarket at the insistence of the pastor that lived a few houses down the street. The teacher told us this story about three men standing before St. Peter. St. Peter said to the first man, “You’ve lived a life of sin and never worshipped the Lord. You’re Hellbound.” He said to the second man, “You’ve lived a life of great virtue, were true and honest and worshipped the Lord. However, one time when you were 11 years old your mother asked if you had brushed your teeth before bed. You lied and said you did. You’re Hellbound.” He turned to the third man and said, “You’ve led a life in complete worship of the Lord. You may enter the gates of Heaven.”
The lesson being, do what the church tells you and you’ll go to Heaven. Nothing short of that will permit you entry.
But there was another lesson there: if you come just a little short of the Church’s exacting standards you’re going to Hell. Even one lie over a long, virtuous life will sit you beside Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot.
In short, if you’re going to sin once, you may as well sin often. If there is a God, how silly man is that he thinks he can possibly understand His true meaning.
Sin well, my friends. And sleep late this Sunday.
Richard S. Todd is the author of the critically-praised Raincloud: A Novel and holds talks on the self-publishing experience. He spends his time blogging and working on his next novel, The Orphans of the Creek.
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