“The wrath of the lamb”
Somehow, that just doesn’t do it for me. When I think of lambs, I think of white, puffy creatures who’re afraid of their own shadows and who star in kiddie shows. “Wrath” and “lamb” seem about as related as “vengeance” and “Teletubby”. The phrase pretty much obliterates the entire point you’re trying to make because I’m too busy laughing to hear it!
By now, you’re probably wondering, where the hell I got this from. It was taken from the following video, about 1:05 in. Admittedly, the preacher mostly says “the wrath of God.” At least, heavy editing makes it appear that’s what he mostly says. And if the editing wasn’t enough, a dark, foreboding track – Lord Sauron’s theme from The Lord of the Rings perhaps? – further emphasizes the punishment to come. Really, you can’t make this stuff up (not even you, Dave Barry!).
Anyway, it’s good to see the old-fashioned, fire-and-brimstone sermon hasn’t gone completely out of style, if only to punctuate how bizarre and, well, medieval, is this aspect of religion. But it got me thinking to what extent beliefs in some terrifying, eternal suffering in the afterlife have played in a religion’s relative success. After all, two of the world’s largest religions – Christianity and Islam – both share among the most merciless and boundless conceptions of divine punishment. With those two religions, as the rewards in heaven for belief are supremely enticing (mansions, in the case of Christianity; female virgins, in the case of Islam), are the tortures in hell for disbelief stupefyingly horrific. While some form of reward and punishment in the afterlife didn’t originate with Christianity and Islam, they are pretty unique in positing such an extreme variance in the two possible spiritual existences. Yes, I realize that – at least for Christianity – most teaching on the subject of hell has moderated somewhat, the video above notwithstanding, it’s also true that this is a historically recent development.
It may be a mistake to assume that religious threats constitute a way to reel in new members. From an outsider’s perspective, I’m possibly going to offend someone’s god regardless of which religion I choose. It’s like a game of roulette, except the wheel contains not 38 slots (or “pockets”) but thousands. Good luck with that bet! More likely, as is the case with apologetics, the aim is to keep the sheep from leaving the fold. Our good preacher suggests just as much when he warns that even some members of his audience will not be immune from the main mutton’s mania. As for myself, I’m going to try to get ahead of the game by pouring out my wrath on a plate of lamb kabob.