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Is There A Purgatory and If So Are We There?

The concept of purgatory has been debated and discussed among religions for centuries.  It’s even been debated among non-religions.  I think it becomes necessary to look at the word, ‘Purgatory’, and the concept, ‘PURGATORY’ in slightly different lights.  The ‘idea’ of Purgatory is that there is a place where one goes, or one’s soul goes, generally after one dies, though in the case of Dante Alighieri and numerous less famous people, visiting Purgatory didn’t require death. 

Dante’s view of Purgatory as a place of cleansing, a place where one’s sins are purged away, yet a place where one could certainly hope and expect to go to heaven has become the most popular view.    Dante’s Divina Comedia was the most printed work of the Renaissance  period.  It was actually written at the very beginning of the Renaissance.   Dante probably did more to popularize the concept of Purgatory than did the Catholic Church, and it was his view and description that became the defacto description.  It will probably remain the prevailing view, though the Obama Administration and the Democratically controlled House and Senate are providing us with a new view of Purgatory that may in fact supersede Dante’s, though inheriting from it vaguely.   The idea that we are in a dismal place, a place of our own making, a place where we can finally hope to eventually leave after many aeons, a place that we got to because we listened and adhered to lies-> lies about spending our way into prosperity, lies about twisting the purpose of God’s most innocent creation, the newly fashoned unborn, into some genetic material to be taken apart for the health of the many in this Brave New World, lies about how it would be fair to begin limiting the free speech of too many Conservatives on the radio by providing them with an instant guaranteed and legally binding rebuttal (even calling it the Fairness Doctrine),  lies about how everyone should and will own a home even if they have never been schooled to understand that they will ultimately have to pay the taxes, interest,, principal and insurance – in which case they will probably lose the house, and lastly lies about how the new Government is going to be a non-partisan government that binds the wounds, heals the divisions and cures the ailing economy.   Listening to such lies have somehow gotten us into this Purgatory.  Listening to lies seems to be how everyone ultimately gets into Purgatory.

 Now Catholics and Protestants have disagreed on the theology of  a Purgatory, but let me proffer this:

The idea that there could be a place where souls go after death, even after martyrdom, a place where the souls are not completely happy, where they are even crying and complaining, where they have hope of a better day, and where they experience a sort of transformation is not uniquely Catholic: 

If one turns to the book of Revelations in the King James Bible Chapter 6, verse 9 we see ‘Under the Alter’ the souls of those who were slain for the word of God and for their testimony.  Clearly these people are dead.  Clearly they are not damned, for they were martyred for their holy testimony.  Clearly, though, they are not happy, for they are crying, “How long, Oh Lord holy and true dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth!”  (They are not at all content).  I have asked religious friends, “Where are these souls besides being ‘Under the Alter’?  Are they in heaven?  Some reply, ‘They are in heaven.’  I answer, Is this the sort of heaven that you want to be your heaven?  At this point people usually fumble or walk away.  I’ve never had a friend commit to saying, “Yes!  Give me that heaven!”

But there’s hope!  In just the next verse (11):  “But white robes were given unto every one of them, and it was said unto them that they should rest for a season…”  Now, looky here!  They have undergone a transformation!  The Lord has given them white robes.  Now when the scripture often says, ‘Make your robes white’  it is speaking of purifiation, cleansing, transformation.  I find it hard to believe that any being could come into contact with the Almighty, the Father of the Universe, receive a white robe from him, and yet remain untransformed.  So, the concept of a place where a person has died, loves God, will eventually be in that great heavenly communion of brothers,  and has undergone a ‘whitening’ transformation is not uniquely Catholic.  I’ve just shown it to you in the Protestant Bible. (“Sh!!! We won’t call it Purgatory.  To avoid argument, let’s call it ‘Untold Years Under the Democrats.’ )

I believe when Virgil led Dante into Purgatory there were souls that Dante recognized, but others he did not.  Clearly, he recognized ‘Beatrice’.  I believe the souls he did not recognize may have been the souls of fiscally irresponsible Republicans, floating around with no bodies, no Congressional Seats.  The steep hills they had to climb were the economic debt, first introduced by Bush, but as they climb and try to get closer to the sun the Obamanamus would come  along and dump more debt on the hill, piles of it, trillions of piles…  the sunlight  almost being obscured, the people and their children oppressed by the doom of the impending taxes, the sunlight being obscured by the sin of  infant-manglers and the explosion of more volcanoes in the South Pacific, belching out clouds of disgust at the murdering of creation and little parts of Creation, the next ice-age moving in because of the volcanoes, and the final striking of the promised asteroid, Al Gore fleeing to hide behind his accountant because no one will subscribe to his philosophy of global warming any more…

Lethe Rivers continue to stream out their hypnotic trance on a weary population of hundreds of millions.  After promising to take the troops home, save soldiers lives, and reduce our military commitment abroad, the Democrats ramp up the troop commitment to Afghanistan (right out of the Lyndon Johnson playbook),  anesthetize the masses with promises of more free mortgage money for first time mortgages (Okay, lets roll this boulder up the hill again), and just watch the awful tumbling towards total global instability as foreign economies respond to our total economic lack of lucidity… not to mention our new-found secular Godlessness.

Purgatory could even start here on earth.  Purgatory means waiting for a clean slate.  Are you waiting?

-John P. Schumake


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