Yes there is. No, there isn’t.

For you, maybe it is a point of debate. Maybe you don’t care enough to debate. That’s your thing. I believe, so: Yes there is. Yes there is a God. Frankly, it doesn’t matter at all to Him what you call Him, just as long as you do. This is not a semantics exercise.

For those that don’t believe there is a God. For those that don’t believe there is anything in store for us after this life. For those who don’t see any point, rhyme or reason to this life. For those who are too interested in accumulating the most toys, using the most things, exploiting the most situations, abusing the most people, I wish you the best. No, I really do. But, I am not like you and I don’t want to be like you.

Because I believe in God, I believe there is a life after this one, and it will last a lot longer than this one. It will also not be comparable to this one. So, whether you’re into Fires of Eternal Damnation (in Dante’s Inferno, the Devil was not surrounded by fire; did he know something, or was he just being Italian?), or Streets of Gold and Fountains of Milk and Honey, well, guess again.

I also believe in Judgment. As in a Final Judgment. As in “sheep you come here and goats you go there”. I am no Biblical scholar (unfortunately, one of the many available gifts that were not sitting on the shelf when I was conceived), but in my reading, I have not be able to avoid Judgment throughout the Bible – it is a recurrent theme. It is what makes Mercy possible (The Major Theme of the Bible, aka Jesus Christ). No Judgment, no Mercy. But, if we’re all saved, then what is the point of Judgment; what was the point of Jesus; why did he say the things He did? Nope, in my cosmology, there is God, there is Eternal Life, there is Heaven and there is Hell. And, since the Catholics have had more time than most to think about it, we have come up with Purgatory (cf 2 Machabees 12, 40-46). I think it was Avery Cardinal Dulles who quipped: “Believe in Purgatory? I’m depending on it!” That is good enough for me.

Begs the question, tho, doesn’t it? To wit: Am I saved? We certainly all have that opportunity – the offer is there, the door (gate) is there – all we have to do is choose. Yep, that’s it: free will, free choice. Unfortunately, this free will thing is also our greatest enemy. Pogo was right: the enemy is us. But, am I saved? Certainly a possibility – all things are possible under God. Also equally possible that I won’t see the gilt streets, maybe ever, maybe for a very long time (enter Purgatory). Can I earn salvation? Nope, no way. But I can prevent my own salvation. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Ultimately, of course, This Life is just preparation for the Next Life. This Life is not the end-all and be-all; it is just a dress rehearsal. What we do now will follow us. Isn’t that a pleasant thought? How many people do we know that we’d rather not see in Heaven? They’re probably thinking the same about us. Did Groucho have it right: “I would never join a club that would have me as a member”?

But, whichever side of the fence you are on, you should live this life congruent with your beliefs. That might be called “integrity” which is in very short supply these days for obvious reasons. As my good friend Andy Dufresne said: “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.” (How do you spell “Zihuatanejo,” anyway?)

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