by John Patrick Michael Murphy
Pope John Paul II has recently informed the world that Purgatory is still there and he's made arrangements with the powers that may be to let us out early when we die. He claims that stopping smoking or drinking here in this world, even for one day, will allow us to smoke less when we die. Purgatory is located close to Hell, but, unlike Hell, it has a two-way door. Everyone will eventually get out. However, by following the Pope's advice, we can get out sooner. The more you smoke in this world, the more you will smoke in the next, he claims.
Read your Bible, from the first mistake in Genesis, to the last curse of Malachi, (as Robert Ingersoll used to say), and nowhere in the Old Testament can you find Purgatory. You'll come across amazing happenings, a jumble of inconsistencies and contradictions, inbred serial killers, plagues and pestilence, but no Purgatory. No Heaven or Hell either - just a little living and a whole lot of dying. Dying, especially if Jehovah was on the prowl.
In the New Testament, there sure as hell is a Hell. Jesus brought it with the new covenant. No more human sacrifice - the Atonement took care of all that. Here, for the first time, we find life after death in a Heaven or Hell, but, again, no Purgatory. Start with the unknown writer of Mark, and read until you come to the last ravings of John the Divine, in Revelations, and you will find no Purgatory. So how did it get here? How did we find out about it? The Pope talks of it as if he has been there and checked on the conditions. Where did he get his knowledge?
Judaism, Islam, and most of Christendom reject the idea of Purgatory. The Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer condemns it as "vainly invented" and "...repugnant to the Word of God."
Martin Luther claimed the popes' idea about letting souls out of their torture for money, or special prayers, was an "invention." He felt strongly enough about it to start his own religion over it. Even Christian Science can't find the place. So where did it come from?
Years ago I came across a booklet written by an old contrarian curmudgeon named Frank C. Hughes. He was a freethinking humorist who lived in the first part of this century, who claimed (in jest) to be the Pope of the Bad Lands, and pestered government officials for equal treatment with his "Italian competition." He demanded (and received) railroad passes, and, on occasion, would board trains in full pope-like regalia, with the addition of a large watering bucket labeled "Holey Water" and a chemical fire extinguisher. He claimed he was going to put out the fires of Purgatory and then he would work on Hell's. He did just the opposite of the Roman pope. He would excommunicate people and send them to Heaven. He refused to take collections and would kiss your ring. He was also a reliable historical researcher. This pope studied this Purgatory business, and here are his findings:
"Protestants consider Purgatory a first. class racket. This view is a narrow sectarian one and is not supported by the evidence. Although Jesus and Paul knew nothing of this place, it is a reliably documented Christian swindle and not a racket."
"The idea of Purgatory came from Persia, and Pope Gregory in 604 AD was the first Christian with brains enough to sense its commercial value. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) declared the Purgatory swindle to be a matter of Catholic faith. What happened to the millions of good Catholics who died without the benefit of a 'cooling off' sojourn in Purgatory some priest might explain."
"Purgatory" is copyright © 1999 by John Patrick Michael Murphy.
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