How’s that title for an attention-getter?
Horror movies often strike me as ridiculous, and movies that are all about broad-scale terror don’t attract me all that much. On the other hand, the dramas and suspense series I watch do involve short-lived, mostly-small-scale terrors fairly often, I’d have to say. They say (I’m not sure who “they” are, really) that watching such things can give kids nightmares, and I worry about myself, too. Will a diet of bad visual experiences get inside my soul? I suppose I’ve almost assumed that watching any horrific things would make me think about horror more acutely and more often. Now, I wonder if it’s had the opposite effect: have the terror images almost anesthetized me, keeping me from proper wincing and fear?
Lately I’ve wondered what terror would be like if personally experienced. What if? And then it happened very near me. Very recently, a small plane went down less than 10 miles from our house. My wife brought me the news, both in the form of an image on her phone and in her eyes. I could tell she felt it deeply, and her empathy moved me. What was that horrific human experience like for the two who were killed? (May God have granted that it was quick.) One decedent was from a few hundred miles away, and one, from our little town. People knew them and must themselves have experienced shockwaves of terror after the news broke. The more I think about it, the more I am affected.
I’m not much on the “hellfire and brimstone” stuff that’s historically been associated with a few denominations and preaching styles. I’m grateful never to have been subjected to regular preaching like that in the congregations with which I’ve worked. I’ve never dug into the hell topic much but find myself leaning toward the view that God’s punishment will not be ongoing but will rather be a one-time event. Whatever it turns out to be, it is obviously something to be avoided. I believe it will be a terror in some sense, whether once or in perpetuity. Otherwise, why would the inspired teachers throughout biblical history have described it in such horrific terms?