Caught a doc recently that I really enjoyed. Hellbound? does a great job of touching on the debate (in Christianity — other worldviews are not really addressed) between those who believe in a real “Hell” (e.g. eternal punishment) and those who don’t (e.g. universalists and annihilationists).
Watching this film quickly reminded me of my “Bible Belt” years, growing up in Western Kentucky and then my first few years out of college in Indianapolis. Back then I had plenty of exposure to more conservative, fundamentalist types who relied heavily on Hell as an important part of Christian doctrine.
Trust me — until you’ve seen the fundamentally ill up close, it’s difficult to understand just how powerful memes like Hell are. That said, I don’t have a problem with those who believe it, as long as they don’t bother the rest of us. Of course they love bothering the rest of us, which means I usually have a problem with it.
As an a-religious, non-theist who values the Judeo-Christian ethic (IMO every major tradition — spiritual and scientific — has at least one or two shiny nuggets), I like the Universalists — in general they’re all about a warm-and-fuzzy, peaceful loving God instead of a vain, violent, judgmental deity.