Artwork with a dark, twilight Gothic theme with Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins foreground and background.

Back In Black – Hell And Halloween Are Spooky But Not As Much As Reality On This Planet



by Richard Cameron


           Back In Black – Hell And Halloween Are Spooky But Not As Much So As Reality On This Planet


Graphic art with the phrase "Back In Black"


I suppose that I’ve been off F-book so long that some, perhaps many, have concluded that I have shed this immoral coil and departed or been deported to the nether regions (aka, “the Hot Place”) to collect my eternal wages. Not that lucky and neither are you. I have been moving, yes, but not to Sheol, but instead to a new temporal residence, one infernal city over. Got to tell you, this move was bad (as if they all aren’t). “How bad was it?”  Well, it broke at least one of the Ten No Nos – it was Murder.

But back to the subject. I did try to book Hades through Canoe or Priceline or some such, but apparently it is still overbooked – you know, with all the people who felt “cooped up” from the so called ‘lockdowns’ during the pandemic. “Revenge travel” or “Revenge travails”?  Take your pick or pick your take. The lake of fire doesn’t want me or my money. I even had a new pair of Dr. Sheols at the ready for comfortable walking on hot coals. What are they afraid of? Maybe that I’d be a Karen and constantly be asking questions? Asking questions is what I do. That would get me in trouble in Paradise as well.

Anyway, Hades is also a bit of an exclusive resort. You have to have your name on a list. Some really old dude with a lousy sense of humor, if at all, looks you up in the book and if you are on the shit list, you are good. If you ain’t VIP, you ain’t crap. So, al-ass (sic), all the cool people are down there living it up on credit cards and I am still recovering from the hell of moving. This hell is not entertaining or pleasurable and does not make for vacation memories, but what’s the alternative?

Of course, all things being equal, despite all the glowing reviews from people who have been there to either party or relax, can Hell really be all that different than what goes on here – with the mass shootings, the homelessness, the cruelty, the indifference to suffering, the inequality and poverty, abuse of children, the wars, the genocide, the starvation, (man made) climate change catastrophes, the hypocrisy, the hate, the self worship? Could it possibly be worse? I don’t know, but get back to me after you have attended a Holocaust Museum and spoken to a survivor of a concentration camp in Nazi Germany, a Gulag in the former Soviet Union,  a “re-education” prison in China,  a rendition site, otherwise known as a “Black Site” somewhere in the Middle East or an ethnic cleansing genocide in one or another parts of Africa. 

Oh yes, and somehow the saints of the American Nation of Christ, the “Warriors Of Faith” (think January 6th, 2021 and intimidating Drag show protests and worship of Orange skinned, Urine colored hair idols) assert their enemies are paedophiles and child groomers  –  while ignoring the horrifying and abominable record of thousands of children sexually assaulted by members of the Protestant and Catholic clergy and lay ministry, including evangelicals.

And of course, while all this is going on, their priorities include what books should or should not be permitted in school and public libraries. I thought that sort of preoccupation went out of fashion with the Third Reich, or is this a Fourth Reich in its infancy? Did I leave anything out? If I ever do get there, hell, that is, I will probably, if anything, be non-plussed and more than a little bored. Deja Vu all over again. I’ve seen it all before – every day as a matter of fact. Same shit, different day.

Supposedly, their awaits some “divine plan” that is to gloriously alleviate, eradicate and transform all of the misery. A lot of people won’t admit that they wonder what is holding up the show, given all that has transpired over the course of recorded history of man’s love affair with religion, not to mention just the last two thousand and a couple dozen years. I’ll admit that I wonder.

By this time, I can faintly hear some of the readers who are still here, thinking aloud, “wow, Richard is really in a negative frame of mind.” Perhaps, but I’m not a pessimist or an optimist. I fit more in the realist category, but I’m not finished yet. There are no shortage of plagues, but despite all the people who follow their own worst impulses or give passive acquiescence to magical thinking, there are others we can model ourselves after.  

I refer to the Good Sams who go beyond lip service to humanity, but instead, truly give a shit and make an effort to do something about it. They’re all around us if we look carefully.  Hospital emergency doctors and nurses. Firefighting first responders. Teachers who do more than punch the clock in and out on a daily basis. Community volunteers who assist the less fortunate who have no roof over their head and are food insecure. Border angels who bring water and other life saving assistance to those near death, whose lives are so desperate that staying one day longer in their native countries is a likely death sentence. 

You can think of many more examples. Do they do it motivated by the notion that they are putting good works in a virtual bank account to insure their entrance into a utopian afterlife existence? 

Personally, I have renewed my orientation to life. I am indifferent to the terroristic and extortionist threats of eternal punishment as a deterrent to inhumane and unethical behavior as much as I am cold and indifferent to the lure of reward in some dream like utopia as an incentive to follow the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is a beautiful thing intrinsically and bullying tactics and intimidation on the one hand and incessant hucksterism, plus free tickets to misbehave (“we’re not perfect, we’re just forgiven”), are not necessary inducements for doing the right thing, at least not in my book.

Let me invite you into this conversation and ask a couple of questions. If the religious authorities hadn’t invented Hell and used it as a means of controlling you, would you then be devoid of a conscience? Without the spectre of eternal consequences giving you pause, would you:


   –  get in your car and drive drunk with no misgivings?

   –  cheat your customers, partners and clients in business dealings?

–  prescribe a bogus “cure” for a virus that has reached pandemic proportions, that not only doesn’t protect the patient, but exposes him or her to life threatening contraindications?

   –  sexually assault another human being, perhaps even a child?

–  join a flash mob in a mass shoplifting of a neighborhood grocery store or department store?

– under color of law and authority and because you have a badge on your uniform, deprive a citizen in your custody of their civil rights or even deprive them of their life?

   – smuggle deadly Opioids such as Fentanyl into the country if the pay was lucrative?

– attempt to subvert democracy and alter the outcome of a fairly contested election because your personality disorder prevents you from accepting that you lost?


This is where I might score points as an optimist (for once). I am entirely confident that most all of my readers would not commit any of the above examples of moral and ethical offenses, whether they attended Sunday School and church for most of their lives –  or whether, they are, as I am, an “apostate” who still greatly admires Jesus. That probably sounds like a contradiction of sorts.  It’s not as much as you might think, but it is as complicated as you might imagine. At some point I will give that subject all of the illumination that it deserves.

The fact is, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Bahai, Scientologist and Freethinker, Agnostic and Atheist, all, according to the crime statistics, have an equal propensity to either obey public codes or to break them. Unfortunately, the reality, at least as it has to do with the U.S. of A., is that on the one hand, according to the latest criminal conviction records, over 77 million Americans hold a criminal record, which makes up for roughly one out of every three US adults. Around 10% of them (7.7 million) have been imprisoned at least once in their lifetime.

And on the other hand, 63 percent, or roughly two thirds of the U.S. population identify themselves as Christians in one form or another, although that number is down from 75% just in the last decade and down from the high water mark of 90 percent 50 years ago, according to social research.  Has religion transformed society? By what measurement?  I will point to one uncomfortable truism in the overall framework of the moral crusade and culture wars whose vanguard is the Christian Right. Ironic or not –  the most adamant among this contingent about moral crimes, are found to be the most likely to be perpetrating and perpetuating them.

In the next installment of this series, we will examine more of the arguments and counter-arguments about the claim that America, as of 2023, is a “Christian Nation” and look closer at the sorts of people making that assertion. We’ll also unpack how that might be defined and whether the definitions stand up to scrutiny or not.

If what I have written so far is any indication –  some of what will follow will spur critical thought, as uncomfortable as that might be, and some, perhaps much or it will piss you off or please you, depending on how you process it. That’s always the risk, but also the opportunity. At day’s end, this is not a Poker game. A person ultimately has to put their cards on the table and take whatever comes.

I have always reminded my readers that the last thing I expect is agreement. I don’t really expect anything beyond the possibility that what I put forth for consideration may expand the reader’s perspective with the objective that we can at least understand where each of us is coming from, while remaining respectful of differences.

Until next time, stay safe out there.

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