IS THERE A HELL? Everyone would like to know…but most do not want to approach the subject or even speak of it….unless it is in a profane way. Nevertheless, it is a subject…unlike heaven…that brings up fears and distrust. One could rationalize that if there is no hell….why would there be a heaven? Who wants to be forever in eternity with the most evil in this world. Would it then cease to be heaven? I am so glad that God is in charge for we most likely will not have a definite answer until we breathe our last. The closest we have come to knowing what happens after life is the “near death” experiences of those who returned to life as they had known it and spoke of the great peace; the bright light…and not wanting to return. Surely if they were headed toward hell there would have been fear not peace.
When recently I watched the slowly moving lava of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii on various programs, this question of hell was not in my mind. Then I saw the amazing pictures taken by the U.S. Geological Survey and immediately the thought raced through my mind “That looks hotter than hell!” But who knows what hell is like…or how hot it really may be…or if it is literal or a terrible state of mind? Looking at these pictures certainly makes one shiver at the idea that being thrown into such a pit could possibly be a reality. Such is the cause of nightmares! As I write, this just happens to be All Hallows Eve which traditionally was to honor all saints and martyrs in the Christian faith …more commonly known today as Halloween here in the United States…but that is another subject.
Many religions speak of hell and look at the subject in different ways. Although we are not trying to cover every religious belief in this writing, below are some words from those who speak for their faith.
CHRISTIANITY The Holy Scriptures of the Christian faith has many verses concerning hell. The art of the early Christian painters was often painted to interpret the Scriptures as many in the masses did not read. The agony…the torture…the gruesome scenes would be enough to scare anyone! The love of God is what leads us to salvation…not fear…we are told. Yet, in both the old and new testaments of the Holy Scripture, hell is spoken of. (See a few listed at the end of this writing.)
JUDISM The Jewish faith also acknowledges hell…but a different type of hell as expressed by Rabbi Aaron Moss:
“The Jewish mystics described a spiritual place called “Gehinnom.” This is usually translated as “Hell,” but a better translation would be “the Supernal Washing Machine.” Because that’s exactly how it works. The way our soul is cleansed in Gehinnom is similar to the way our clothes are cleansed in a washing machine. Put yourself in your socks’ shoes, so to speak. If you were to be thrown into boiling hot water and flung around for half an hour, you might start to feel that someone doesn’t like you. However, the fact is that it is only after going through a wash cycle that the socks can be worn again. We don’t put our socks in the washing machine to punish them. We put them through what seems like a rough and painful procedure only to make them clean and wearable again…. So too with the soul. Every act we do in our lifetime leaves an imprint on our soul. The good we do brightens and elevates our soul, and every wrongdoing leaves a stain that needs to be cleansed. If, at the end of our life, we leave this world without fixing the wrongs we have done, our soul is unable to reach its place of rest on high. We must go through a cycle of deep cleansing. Our soul is flung around at an intense spiritual heat to rid it of any residue it may have gathered, and to prepare it for entry into Heaven. Of course, this whole process can be avoided. If we truly regret the wrong we have done and make amends with the people we have hurt, we can leave this world with “clean socks.” That’s why our Sages said, “Repent one day before you die.” And what should you do if you don’t know which day that will be? Repent today.”
HINDUISM The Hindu believes in various levels of hell. “Naraka is the Hindu equivalent of hell where sinners are tormented after death.[ It is also the abode of Yama ,the god of Death. It is described as located in the south of the universe and beneath the earth. The number and names of hells, as well as the type of sinners sent to a particular hell, varies from text to text; however, many scriptures describe 28 hells. After death, messengers of Yama bring all beings to the court of Yama, where he/she weighs the virtues and the vices of the being and passes a judgement, sending the virtuous to Svarga (heaven) and the sinners to one of the hells. The stay in Svarga or Naraka is generally described as temporary. After the quantum of punishment is over, the souls are reborn as lower or higher beings as per their merit. In a few texts, a hell is described as a bottomless pit of darkness where souls are trapped for eternity and deprived of rebirth. “
ISLAM According to islamreligion.com, there are different levels of both paradise and hell. “Hell is an infernal place of punishment for unbelievers and purification for sinful believers. Torture and punishment for the body and the soul, burning by fire, boiling water to drink, scalding food to eat, chains, and choking columns of fire. Unbelievers will be eternally damned to it, whereas sinful believers will eventually be taken out of Hell and enter Paradise. Paradise is for those who worshiped God alone, believed and followed their prophet, and lived moral lives according to the teachings of scripture. Hell will be the final dwelling place of those who denied God, worshiped other beings besides God, rejected the call of the prophets, and lead sinful, unrepentant lives.”
BUDDHISM: In only a few words, this is the basic belief of the buddhist: “There is a hell realm where sinful beings are born, and suffer, and the heaven realm where meritable beings are born. Buddhists believe in reincarnation. This means you will keep going through the cycle of life over and over again until you reach enlightenment (a state of mind where you are completely peaceful and in harmony with the world around you). Depending on how you lived your previous life, you will be reincarnated to a life suiting how you treated others before. When you reach Enlightenment you will go to Nirvana. Nirvana could be called the equivalent of the Christian idea of Heaven. Buddhism is in actuality a Way of Life, in strict accord with the Laws of Nature. Life in Buddhism denotes a unit of mind, which is a unit of dynamically fluctuating energy. Buddhism acknowledges several planes of life, animal, humans, form and formless existences; heavenly realms and hell realms. They exist in the form of energy. However, whether in heavenly or hell realm, form or formless existences, these beings must finally escape from Samsara into Nirvana (enlightenment). Buddhism is about mind culture and only with development of mental development can craving be eradicated and production of kamma be halted.”
None of the above may convince you that a loving God would hurl those souls into such a terrible place, but throughout history the wisest and smartest of men and women have studied the words they feel were given to man by God. If there is no hell, not to worry. The worrisome part is not truly knowing for the Holy Scriptures tell us a “a great gulf is fixed” between the living and the dead. No one from either place…heaven or hell…has returned to tell us the actualities.
As a Christian, I turn to the Holy Scriptures that gives us some insight to faith….for if we can believe God for His salvation, we must also believe Him for other matters. I only believe it will be a fearsome or delightful experience to look into the face of our maker…and have to give an account.
SCRIPTURES FROM THE HOLY BIBLE (Old and New Testaments):
Hebrew: sheol (or hell) Numbers 16:33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.
Luke 16:24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’
Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”
After reading all this, do you feel despondent, sad, discouraged….on this Halloween? If so, I have some good news as you turn to God for His answers to life and death. THE PROMISE OF GOD in Romans 8:37-39 “Nay in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present or things to come…nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. “
The young man shown here is a University grad in Ukraine. He also has cerebral palsy, which makes it difficult for him to talk or move. Nevertheless, his story that you are about to read is true and gives an amazing detail of a man who was kidnapped but continued to risk his life, despite his disabilities, to help others escape the violence in Ukraine. We will call him Sergey and blur his face for security reasons. Below is a partial report of his experiences written by a fellow Ukrainian for a local media outlet:
“Where would I go? I was born here. I love Donetsk; it’s my homeland. I am Ukrainian. No, of course I don’t want Donetsk to become part of Russia! And if it did, I would leave Ukraine. But for now, why would I leave? I want to do something good [while I can].
Once someone asked if anyone could drive a person from Snizhne to Krasnoarmiisk. I came up to them and said: “I want to do it, only I don’t have money for fuel.” I have been driving people for two weeks, now.
In my 35 years of life I couldn’t find a job because of my disability. In the ordinary times I simply didn’t have much to do. But in times of this unfortunate war, it turns out that I am capable of doing something….
Yesterday I was greatly frightened.
I was in Shahtarsk yesterday. I went there to pick up an elderly man. This was when the DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic] bandits captured me. They held me at gun point. Their first question was somewhat stupid: “Are you a Baptist?” Shocked and frightened, I said, “no.”
I asked what did being a Baptist have to do with anything? And they said: “These are our main sworn enemies, they are the agents of America.” They threw me inside my car and drove off with me sitting in the back seat, the two of them were sitting in front. They threatened to take me to the regional administration building.
There was a bus full of children and elderly women moving behind us. There were also criminals on that bus, who were carrying guns. It seemed to me that they [the bandits] were fleeing Shahtarsk and needed a live shield [the children and elderly women].
They were taking elderly women to Donetsk, accompanying them on the bus. And it seemed that they were using it as a way to escape. I was captured, so I couldn’t pick up that elderly man yesterday. Gun pointed to my temple. I told them that I was scared. One of them fired a shot in the air and asked: “How about now, are you scared now?”
The scariest thing was when I arrived in the Pisky village. I had to drive though the fields, because roads are blocked with checkpoints everywhere now; they don’t let you through. I saw elderly women walking. I asked: “Will I get to Pesky this way?” They got in my car and showed me how to get around the mines. And then they said: “Stop here and continue on foot.” I went afoot. I saw mines and trip-wires everywhere.
I found an old woman, 96 years of age; the roof of her house was destroyed. She was sitting in the cellar, knee deep in water. She had been living in that cellar for four days. She was trying to get in touch with me for a week. We walked 3 km on foot toward my car. Missiles were scattered across the whole of Pisky, and there were flare pistols twisted into the ground. The war is going on there.
Only now I know what the expression “ baptized by fire” really means.
They don’t care anymore. When I was taking people out of Snizhne, thirteen people managed to fit inside my car. I couldn’t even fathom it would be possible. There were only eleven of them to begin with, but they told me that there were two more people in Shahtarsk who needed to be picked up. I asked them: “How?”
As I approached Shahtarsk, two elderly men were waiting there. They said that they would be able to fit in. I told them: “Where?! You can’t! It’s impossible.” They started crying as I drove away. I came back for them and they got into the car! I don’t know how.
One of them had a passport with a Lviv registration. (Passports are being checked at every checkpoint.) We were doomed! Somehow he managed to lie down under the women’s legs, and they didn’t find him. I ended up bringing them to Sloviansk. I think that it wasn’t me but someone from above!
Earlier this week, I was transporting a young lady from the regional children’s hospital. She had just given birth to a baby. I was bringing them to Kramatorsk and all the roads were blocked. An old man who was passing by showed us the way and we drove through. Further on, there were mines. She was crying the whole way through, afraid that we would be blown up by a mine.
Somehow, through the fields, we had managed to drive out onto the Konstantynivska route. It took us two hours in order to get out of Donetsk and get onto this route. Yasynuvata (Donetsk Oblast) was blocked; you couldn’t drive through it. When we finally reached Kramatorsk, her dad started hugging me with tears in his eyes. I can’t even imagine, for what? I am only a connector between the steering wheel and the pedals…”
Boyer Writes believes that those who serve as a “Connector” in a desperate situation are angels from God. Continue to pray for the people of Ukraine and this brave young man who has not let his disability keep him from doing what he knows is right when others are in need. We must not forget what the people of Ukraine are going through.
It is also interesting that the enemy of the Ukrainian people made a point to this young man by calling the Christians in the area “Baptists”, which we know as a denomination. While I was in Ukraine, I found that the Christians of Ukraine had opened orphanages and did nothing but help the Ukrainians whose families had often broken apart by alcoholism and the children had no one to care for them. Why they are considered someone to get rid of is hard to understand. Of course, we also do not understand why an aid worker to Syria…who was there to only help the poor and destitute…could be brutally beheaded.
With such events happening around the world, the spotlight on this aggression and violence in Ukraine may fade from the media, which obviously is wanted by the invaders. It must not be allowed to happen. Experiences like this one must be kept alive.
So often we hear the sad stories of both young and old not making it home because of an accident where there was a DUI (Drinking Under the Influence) involved. The heartache that goes with these reports is probably indescribable. So what is the problem with “just a few beers”…probably nothing…if a person knows when too many is definitely too many.
I remember one date I had in my youthful years…and he definitely was not able to drive anyone anywhere. The choice I made that night was not an easy one…because it was not only embarrassing, but a definite let-down to a night that could have been a happy one. I asked another guy that I knew was not drinking that night to take me home. He did.
Recently I saw a Budweiser commercial that had a good message of choice…even if it was a bit sad. It had a lesson in CHOICES:
- The CHOICE not to drive.
- The FACT that some made a CHOICE to drive…and did not make it home.
- There may be those at home WAITING…and counting on you to return. It would be best to think before it becomes just a few…or a few too many.
Watch this video and see what you think. (or better still…watch it with a young person.)
Two ships have been named after the Sullivan brothers because of the terrible loss of all five brothers who joined up together to fight in World War II : (Sullivans (DD 537), commissioned in 1943 and the USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) was commissioned in September 1993.)
The brothers are shown in the picture at left: Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison and George Sullivan. All men from Waterloo, Iowa were serving on the same ship that went down following the 13 November 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
It was later learned, through survivors’ accounts, that four of the brothers died in the initial explosion. The fifth, George Thomas, despite being wounded the night before, made it onto a raft where he survived for five days before succumbing either to wounds and exhaustion or a shark attack.
The brothers received the Purple Heart Medal posthumously and were entitled to the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four engagement stars and the World War II Victory Medal. They had also earned the Good Conduct Medal.One can only imagine the grief felt by their family members. Their parents were Mr. Thomas F. Sullivan and Mrs. Alleta Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan was a brakeman on the Illinois Central Railroad. They were your typical Irish Catholic family. Their family motto was “We stick together” . That was what made them ask permission to serve together on the doomed ship. The brothers had one sister, Genevieve Sullivan who was close to her brothers.
Albert Leo Sullivan’s wife, Katherine Mary Sullivan had a son named James Thomas, who was twenty-two months old at the time of his father’s death. James Sullivan, later joined the Navy and served on the ship named for his father and uncles. His daughter is shown in the picture below.
Following the loss of their sons, Thomas and Alleta toured the United States. They spoke in plants, ship yards, and public events to help support the war effort. Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered a Ship to be named “The Sullivans” and in 4, April 1943, The Fletcher Class Destroyer, USS The Sullivans launched with Alleta attending the event.
A movie was made of the story of these brave men and the grief, dedication and sacrifice of this Irish family. Five head stones are placed in their memory at Arlington National Cemetery.
Guidelines in part from the Navy Personnel:
” …In the Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin for July, 1942, it was stated that the Bureau considered it to be in the interest of their families that brothers not be put on the same ships in wartime, and added that “in view of the above, commanding officers will not forward requests for brothers to serve in the same ship or station.” Other than the foregoing announcements, no policies were put forth on the subject. The question of the advisability of coercive action to force the separation of brothers was considered, especially after the death of the five Sullivan brothers as a result of the sinking of the U.S.S. Juneau on 13 November 1942. However, no such action was taken.
On 15 November 1944 Bureau Circular Letter 345-44 was issued. It stated that in case a family had lost two or more sons in the armed forces and had only one surviving son, consideration would be given to application either by the family or the surviving son for the latter’s retention in the United States, unless he was engaged in non-hazardous duties overseas. On 14 April 1945 Bureau Circular Letter 107-45 broadened the rule to provide that if two or more members of the family had been lost consideration would be given to the return to the United States of all remaining members of the family….”
A VIDEO TRIBUTE TO THE FIVE SULLIVANS
We know that many people put their lives at risk to go into the smoking pieces of debris at Ground Zero on 9-11. Many of these first responders died and later many others became ill. We also know that there were a number of rescue dogs that helped find remains. We honor these brave men and women as well as the canines who helped on that terrible day.
At the time this video was made, Abby was the last living Rescue Dog from the training center. There is, however , another dog, Bretagne is the longest living rescue dog from 9-11. In the pictures above are search dogs that have passed away. We owe them great honor and gratitude.
Bretagne the golden retriever who is now 15 years old and the longest surviving rescue dog today. (2014) shown in this picture with her handler.
Today I would like to share a prayer from 2008 where the Twin Towers stood in New York City.
After reading the prayer, scroll down below to see what the people of New York have accomplished in the past years. Thanks to Yahoo News photographer Gordon Donovan who has taken many memorable images from photographs of 9-11 and found the exact spots today, we are able to see what the American people can do after such a tragedy.
“O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.
We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and
Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.
We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives
with courage and hope.
We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.
God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.
God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all. “
Pope Benedict XI–Prayer at Ground Zero
New York, 20 April 2008
Before and After Pictures of 9-11 and today
AMERICANS AND THOSE WHO HONOR THE MEMORY OF THOSE WHO DIED ON 9-11 FROM COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD.
DON’T FORGET TO FLY YOUR FLAG THIS THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
Who were the Doolittle Raiders? Many young people today will not be able to tell you.
Take a good look at these men. This was their last reunion picture taken as all are now in their 90’s.
Here is their story of courage and determination. What we want to remember about these men from World War II is that the Doolittle Raiders sent a message from the United States and the Free World to its enemies:
We will fight. No matter what it takes, we will win.
DURING THE WAR
It was December 7, 1941. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in a sneak attack. It took 132 days of planning since that attack, but on April 18, 1942 the Doolittle raid took place. There were 80 Raiders when they carried out one of the most courageous and heart-stirring military operations in this nation’s history. Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war. They were celebrated as national heroes, models of bravery.
The 16 five-man crews, under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who himself flew the lead plane off the USS Hornet, knew that they would not be able to return to the carrier. They would have to hit Japan and then hope to make it to China for a safe landing.
After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, with the United States reeling and wounded, something dramatic was needed to turn the war effort around.
Even though there were no friendly airfields close enough to Japan for the United States to launch a retaliation, a daring plan was devised. Sixteen B-25s were modified so that they could take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. This had never been tried — sending such big, heavy bombers from a carrier.
But on the day of the raid, the Japanese military caught wind of the plan. The Raiders were told that they would have to take off from farther out in the Pacific Ocean than they had counted on. They were told that because of this they would not have enough fuel to make it to safety. The men went anyway.
THE RESULTS OF THE RAID
They bombed Tokyo, and then flew as far as they could. Four planes crash-landed; 11 more crews bailed out, and three of the Raiders died. Eight more were captured; three were executed. Another died of starvation in a Japanese prison camp. One crew made it to Russia, where they were imprisoned.
Beginning in 1946, the surviving Raiders have held a reunion each April, to commemorate the mission. The reunion is in a different city each year. In 1959, the city of Tucson, Arizona, as a gesture of respect and gratitude, presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of 80 silver goblets. Each goblet was engraved with the name of a Raider.
Every year, a wooden display case bearing all 80 goblets is transported to the reunion city. Each time a Raider passes away, his goblet is turned upside down in the case at the next reunion, as his old friends bear solemn witness. In the wooden case is a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special cognac which was the year Jimmy Doolittle was born.
There has always been a reunion plan. When there are only two surviving Raiders, they would open the bottle, last drink from it, and toast their comrades who preceded them in death.
As 2013 began, there were five living Raiders; then, in February, Tom Griffin passed away at age 96. Bailing out of his plane over a mountainous Chinese forest after the Tokyo raid, he became ill with malaria, and almost died. When he recovered, he was sent to Europe to fly more combat missions. He was shot down, captured, and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp.
(A side note about Tom Griffin and his character is also of interest. According to the Cincinnati Inquirer: “When his wife became ill and needed to go into a nursing home, he visited her every day. He walked from his house to the nursing home, fed his wife and at the end of the day brought home her clothes. At night, he washed and ironed her clothes. Then he walked them up to her room the next morning. He did that for three years until her death in 2005.” )
Sometime in 2014, the remaining Doolittle Raiders will get together informally and in privacy.
They will open the bottle of brandy and toast their fellow-Raiders once again for a job well done and for their sacrifices and determination over 72 years ago.
All free men and women must remember these men of valor who suffered and died for the cause of freedom. In our troubled world of aggression and brutality, it would be good for those who would want to destroy the free world to take a lesson from American fighting men as well as those in all free countries who gave so much.
DETERMINATION was then and DETERMINATION to stay free is now.