I have been thinking about how the early Christians were remiss in not understanding the Jewish roots of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. If they looked more intently at the Jewish maps of the soul, we may have avoided the starkly dark pictures of the human person and being that emerged in the centuries after Christ. Augustine would later talk about the inner person as “totally depraved”. Christian theologians looked at Paul’s wretched state before God, and “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), as a reason for redemption being necessary rather than as a reason for self-overcoming! Jesus said very little about the temperature of hell or the furniture of heaven. He was more interested in the motivations of humanity, and the ways of ameliorating destructive self-intent. No one can consign us to hell or any projection of such a ghastly place. We do that very well ourselves in our own private hells created by the prevarications and self-massaging of the ego. It would be more realistic to speak of hell as a place where we take all our own private hells and collect them together to muse on the collective mess that we have made of our lives! I recall John 23rd, the Pope that brought the papacy into the modern world, writing that, “The question that God will ask me at the end will be, ‘what did you do with the life that I gave you?'” So much of our little hells could be avoided if we took a microsecond before responding to something or someone that has unsettled our ego and flared our resentment. Speaking without that microsecond of pausing can be very dangerous. It can alienate friends and perpetuate enemies.