Arnaud Dumouch, 2005, http://eschatologie.free.fr
"Two people went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other." (Luke 18:10-14a).
ďSir, I visited hell. And was I surprised.Ē
Thatís how Jeanne started her letter
ďI met a Pharisee there. Phone me if you want hear the rest of this story. Ē
I checked her return address and realized she didnít live that far away from me, so I called her up an asked when would it be convenient to meet
She was 87 years old and had lived forever in her corner of the country. Before meeting her, I expected to find a country-worn, wrinkled old girl. What I found was a sharp, well-dressed dowager with an engaging personality.
So after some formalities and a bit of small talk, I asked Jeanne to tell me her storyÖI didnít have to ask twice
ď Iím glad you came and you were right to believe me. I really saw hell. But it is so different from what I believed.Ē
ďTell me. Iím sure it will be interesting whatever the case may be. Iíll tell you after if it conforms to our faith. Ē
ďI was there twice. Itís my angel who took me there. He transported me into the future. There, our world didnít exist any more and the resurrection had already taken place. I had the impression of an extremely long voyage, through an immense and a much more luminous world than ours. Everywhere, I saw sparks, like sparks from a campfire, untold thousands of saints, circulating here and there, alone, in pairs, or in groups traversing the universe at the speed of a thought leaving comets tail of light and joy in their wake
But my angel didnít want that to delay our trip by me soaking in this fantastic spectacle. He took us further into this gigantic galaxy.
ďI was instructed to have you meet one of the damned he told me. This galaxy here is their world. Iíll leave you alone with him because he doesnít want to be anywhere near me, and I respect his wish.Ē
This world of the damned was huge and splendid: I guessed the number of stars to be in the billions, all more and more beautiful, surrounded by planets. My angel led me towards a red planet, isolated and sterile. And I found him, my contact in a cave, at the foot of a mountain.
Sitting with his back turned away from me. He was dressed like a priest.
ďHello, I said.
- You came to find out whom I was. I know, God told me.
- God? I thought that you were damned. You see God all the same?
- God is everywhere. He created everything. You canít run and hide
- How it is that your living here in this cave, like a spider. It was told everything here belongs to you!
- Like a spider? You want to make fun of me?
- Listen. I see what I see. You have suns; planets, gardens and you live here in the dark!
- It is the only way of having peace and quiet. You saw them, all these ďtouristsĒ. They go everywhere.
- ďTouristsĒ? You mean Godís saints donít you?
- Donít ever talk to me about them ever! It is a rotten shame. They have no dignity. They wallow in sordid joy. Never stop their meetingsÖHumphÖ showing off the suffering they endured, telling each other how they were forgiven; and I can feel themÖ they gadabout everywhere throughout the universe. I canít stand them. Theyíre everywhere.
- Youíre hiding so you donít have to see them? Then you arenít free. Does God lock you up in hell?
- Hell no! Iím not in hell; Hell was to frighten people on earth. There is no hell. I am free. And God respects my freedom. You want the proof of it: look at this glorious body that HE gave me on the day of my resurrection. Iím immortal. I can move anywhere I want. Nothing can hurt me. I donít need to eat anymore. You believe that God would have done this if I were in hell?
- OK! No problem. But you havenít really blossomed out?
- Get out!! I donít want to see you any more. You came to torment me. Tell God that I donít need anybody. Iím doing fine on my own.Ē
I woke up faster than a light could be turned on. I sat in my bed realizing this really hadnít been a dream. It was real. I thought a lot about this experience. I thought if my angel sought me out again, Iíd have to be a little more circumspect with this poor soul. You know Iím a pretty spunky lady so I told myself, no sense in cheesing him off.
I asked: ďYou werenít afraid? I was terrified when he had one of his outbursts.
-However I have in mind the vision of his body. It was luminous. It is a splendid but pitiful body. Splendid because it oozed power and immortality. Pitiful because I had had a clear unencumbered view of his heart. He was a hard & stubborn man.
- And did you go back there?
- Yes, two months later. My angel came back and we retraced our steps back to that red planet. I realized that hell and paradise were in the same universe. I found that lost soul once again. He hadnít moved an inch. So he said to me:
ďSimplest way to proceed is we get right to the point. You want to know who I was and why I chose my freedom?
I abstained from any remarks.
ďI am one of the best Jewish theologists of my time. I was circumcised as of the eighth day. I am an Israelite, from the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew son of Hebrews; as for the Law, I am a Pharisee; as a dispenser of justice, I was irreproachable.Ē
I couldnít help myself:
ďYouíre like saint Paul, to some extent?Ē I bit my lip.
And so I blurted out...
- Listen. If your going to rail at me each time I open my mouth, then to do it now and get it over with right now! But lets get one thing straight here: if God chose me to interview you, itís because He has His reasons. If He didnít He would have taken a person less talkative than me. SoÖ make an effort.Ē
- Ok thenÖ Ok!! Lets get it over with! In any event, I donít seem to have much choice. But Iíll ask you for one thing only: NEVERÖ ever speak to me, about the Queen. Thatís all I ask.
Ok promise I said at once. Only too glad to have diverted his attention from saint Paul. I understood right away that the queen he was referring to could only be the Virgin Mary.
I told myself, when I finish the interview though, Iíll try, all the same, to slip in a few indirect questions about Mary. Although I have a fair idea whatís going to happen if I doÖitíll be interesting to see his reaction.
- If I agreed to speak to you itís because I can finally make the rationality of my choice known to man; and induce them to give up their childish notions about my preference. I always served GodÖ He had given us the Law, via Moses. I followed it to the letter. I spent my life conforming to the law to every least details of the regulations. And I succeeded. I loved the sense of order the Law gave. Every thing is regulated there in minute detail. But hear me out here! Donít take to me for a meticulous dullard. I was, on the contrary, an excellent theologian. I defended the concept of the resurrection in the tradition of my ancestors the Maccabees. And as you can see it wasnít in vain. Iím the living proof that I was right.
- So thenÖ youíre a servant of God.
- You know it! Nobody can deny it.
- In that case, why are you in revolt against God?
- We are not in revolt. Nobody can revolt against him. God isnít the problem here itís His project. Heís completely lost it, Heís in total contradiction with Himself. Wasnít it Him who gave us the Mosesí law?
- Yes, and soÖ?
- Then the Law was simple. It taught with precision the need for the virtue. If a woman committed adultery, she had to be put to death. Itís a question of human dignity and a way to its perfection. And then all of a sudden, He starts to teach the reverse. It is as if HE regretted His own laws. There was this Jesus, who came to preachÖ
- You knew Jesus?
- You want to know? OK then...! I even voted his death. I was there when he turned Godís words over for his profit. Once we had brought an adulteress to him. He played with peopleís sensitivities and she was released.
- He said: ďCast the first stoneÖ which ever one of you is free of sin, cast the first stoneĒ. You didnít throw the first stone? You could of thrown it. You were faithful to the Laws werenít you? Youíve never sinnedÖhave you?
- What do you mean here? Are you trying to say that I committed adultery? And thatís the reason I didnít throw the first stone? Thatís definitively not the problem. The stones should have been thrown but it became impossible because Jesus had garnered a lot of support. It is a question of what is right, about justice itís about honour.
- Youíre changing subject. You didnít throw the first stone. So did you or didnít you commit adultery?
- - Cut it out, cut it out right now! Leave! Just go away!
- Ok! Ok! Take it easy! Iíll stop. But tell me. If you voted for Jesusí death, hadn't you see some of his miracles?
- His miracles couldnít be from God. Itís impossible. He taught the opposite of Moses ĎLaw.
- But now, canít you see that Jesus really came from God.
- Impossible. Never! He canít be from God. Heís merely an impostor.
- But now, canít you darn well see He has power over the world no? Doesn't that come from God?
- Itís impossible. Never. He canít be from God! Its obvious God got caught in a trap! And its the reason of our revolt. And we are numerous and powerful. We will never yield. To God will eventually understand. He will do right by us. He will recognize one day that we are the true servants of his Power, and of his dignity as Creator.
- But you saw Jesus in his glory all the same? You saw Him at the hour of your death, and at the end of the world, with the Virgin Mary and all the saints!
- Never! Never shall I yield! They are liars. N Heís not God. Heís insane. He gave himself the world, to the most miserable of creatures. Get out! Get out! Donít ever, ever come back. I knew it! You came here to torment me.
I awoke. I was back in my bed. I was still shaking from his terrible anger, his rage. Never in my lifetime had I seen so much hate and powerlessness, tied to so much determinationÖ it was pathetic.
- But then isn't this soul in a furnace of fire?
- Iím sure he is. Only itís much deeper and more painful than I can ever imagined it. Its something that touches his whole being.
- Is he going to end up admitting he was wrong?
- Iím pretty sure he admits his failure. But heís not crazy. However, he never he will admit that God raises up those who are humble. Heís too proud for that.
- By the way did you ask him and did he answer your question on adultery?
- I was able to see his heart and read his soul. The adultery he committed was in the secrecy of his thoughts. And I saw that the true nature of his heart at the time of his death. He refused to admit that he was but a poor sinner all of us. All his life, he had built himself up with a treasure of what he perceived to be pious achievements: ďGod, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.Ē