In which the Cynic rants about how the gates of hell are actually locked from both sides (and makes himself look like a contentious ass.)
Yeah, so there’s this C.S. Lewis “quote” that says “The gates of hell are locked from the inside.” Which means people in hell are there by choice.
I’ll rip that idea a new orifice in a minute, but first of all, I can’t verify the source of the Lewis quote. Maybe you can. I’ve seen it attributed to The Problem of Pain and, more often, The Great Divorce. But nowhere have I found that quote in those or any of Lewis’ other works. Anybody wanna give me a source with a page number?
Anyway it doesn’t even matter. Lots of people think the gates of hell are locked from the inside and that people choose hell. People who think that are wrong, all of them. If you’re one of them, I’ve surely by now gotten your hackles up and you are now rendered incapable of reading the rest of this post. I can’t blame you.
First off, I don’t care if the literal Hell is real–the one with the fire and brimstone in the supernatural world, or the place of eternal suffering in the afterlife or whatever. Don’t care, not interested in getting hung up on literalism and whose completely wild guess about stuff we don’t actually know jack squat about is correct or incorrect. This blog is above all that. This blog is superior. And way more humble.
I’m talking about the metaphorical hell. The kind where people suffer in this world. The kind where people succumb to addiction, to violence, to infidelity, to broken and mangled love, to a literal hurricane, to literal starvation, to existential pain and angst–to those kinds of hell. That kind of pain is hell to anyone who’s ever been through it, and the pain always feels eternal enough alright, so let’s go ahead and all agree to understand what I’m talking about, even if in our sweet innocence someone would rather seek to pretend to have no idea what I’m talking about for the sake of bolstering their own fickle faith and trolling the Cynic.
Sorry, coffee brew was a little strong this morning. Feeling snippy. Moving right along. Where were we. Ah yes, real hell on earth.
Hell on earth is locked from both sides. Here’s the deal. You’re in hell. You’re locked in. You have a key. You turn the key. It doesn’t open.
Well damn. You try again. No luck. You try again and again, say, for years, decades, but that door ain’t budging. You’re still stuck there suffering and trapped and alone and miserable. Maybe even suicidal. Whoa, now we’re getting serious. Yes, I’m talking to people who know what hell feels like before they’ve died. You, maybe.
So now what? This door is locked, you tried to get out, but no dice. Well I say here and now that there’s a second lock, and it’s on the outside. You need someone else to turn that key on the outside to let you out.
But here’s the thing: Both keys must be turned at the same time.
I don’t care what any of these “individualistic” people with their “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” load of crap think. People need help to get out of hell. Otherwise what would be the point of being kind and graceful and forgiving to others? I’m talking to you, Christians. We need to help each other get out of hell. So we reach out. We try to help people out of their situation. We don’t want to see them suffer. Because we’re Christians, remember? Allegedly?
Yeah yeah, “Show ’em tough love, ignore their needs, they’ll learn.” Yeah, I get that. There’s a time and a place for that. You know what I’m talking about though. You know damn well. Don’t make me spell everything out. Read between the lines and mentally reference other things you’ve read or heard. Please let’s not get hung up on petty details.
M’kay, coffee situation needs to change. Sorry I’m coming off jerky. You know how the Internet is, though. I expect petty arguments everywhere, and I’m just trying to head them off at the pass, see? Still with me? Okay, moving on again.
Another thing that can turn the key that’s on the outside is circumstance. The weather, the stock market, whatever. Outside forces beyond individual human control.
And then there’s God, if you go in for that sort of claptrap, which I completely do. I love God with all my heart. He’s the bomb. I also love Jesus, and I believe the Sunday School fairy tales about him loving me. Don’t share my view? Please, tell me how wrong I am. Pretend I’m a picture of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.
Anyway, God is always turning the key to let you out of hell. And so are you. But the thing is, maybe you aren’t turning the key at the same time. There’s this supernatural force field preventing either of you from knowing when the other one is there so the door can get opened. Yep, there’s something God can’t see. So says I. It’s my blog post and my metaphor, I can make up rules to make it work. Gimme a break, damn.
Wow I am being a cocksure son of a gun this morning. Why, I wonder? Maybe I need to stop paying attention to negative stuff on the Internet. It’s getting in the way of explaining a very simple concept. Hell, everyone reading this probably already agrees with me and I’m just preaching to the choir and insulting their intelligence along the way. Let this be a lesson for you, folks: Don’t be like your Uncle Will. Don’t worry so much about other people’s negativity lest it overtake your blog post and you become one of the negative people. (There, at least I can serve as a bad example.)
Anyway, point is, don’t lose hope. Keep turning that key. You’ll get out. You’ll be free one day. I guarantee it. It’s inevitable. Keep trying. God will be there turning the key and in one magical moment–a symphony in a blink–you’ll be a new person with a new life. Or maybe a stiff breeze will blow some money your way and it’ll just be a coincidence and everything will work out.
Or maybe a friend, a human friend, a human friend you didn’t know you had will reach out and pull you back from the abyss–out of hell.
May you find that friend.
May you be that friend.
And most important, may you be less cranky than the Cynic sounds in this post. Honestly I’m fine. This medium brings out the bitchy in me.
God bless you, my friends. In all seriousness, God bless you.