An addendum to episode 206 of PZ’s Podcast (“The Rich Man and Lazarus”), courtesy of the host himself:


A few weeks ago a new play finished its New York run, entitled “The Christians”. The play is by Lucas Hnath.

Initially, I was reluctant to see “The Christians”, believing it was probably a hatchet job on evangelical Christianity. Well, it wasn’t, and it’s not.

Here is a quotation from the play. The ‘Associate Pastor’, who is conservatively evangelical in the traditional sense, is explaining himself to the ‘Pastor’, who has become a liberal in theology.

Up to this point in the play, the audience’s sympathies are with the more liberal Pastor rather than with the Associate Pastor, who has been let go by the Pastor for his conservative views. But here, in this scene, the audience is brought to a new sympathy.

This quotation is meant to make you want to see the play (emphasis mine):


Associate pictured on the left. Pastor Paul on the right, with the mic.

Associate pictured on the left. Pastor Paul on the right, with the mic.

My parents — they didn’t believe
in what I believe.

I tried. Again and again, I tried
to bring them to Jesus,
wanted nothing more,
right up until the end,
I tried.

So that my mother, when she died,
I was there in the hospital,
standing by her side,
telling her about Jesus,
telling her what Jesus did for me.
I asked her, “Please please
hear what I have to say,
open your heart, just a little.”

And she said, “Baby, I don’t like how you sound when you preach
at me,”
she said, “When you talk Jesus talk, you don’t sound like you.”
And I said, “That’s cuz I’m filled with the spirit.”
And she said, “No it’s just creepy is all. …

And I said,
“Then just say you believe, say it with me,
‘I believe in Jesus, and I believe He died for my sins,’ say it
with me.”
and she said,
“I would like to say I believe,
but if I did it would be a lie.”…
And she said,
“Honey, I am going, I am leaving this earth,
and I will not spend my final breath
sayin’ a damn lie.”

and she said, “When I close my eyes,
my eyes won’t open again.
And when I close these eyes,
I’ll see black,
and there will never again be
anything but.” …

But before her eyes closed and closed for good,
there was a moment,
a moment that was terror,
pain —
our eyes connected, and she saw me seeing her
and at that moment, her hand reached out
and grabbed my wrist, like she was grabbing for help.

It’s not easy for me to believe there is a Hell.
It doesn’t make me feel good to believe there is a Hell.
In fact, it hurts, because I know,
every day,
that I will never see my mother again,
and if I do, it will be me, high above her,
looking down,
and seeing her suffer,

for the rest of eternity.

An’ I wonder sometimes — Pastor Paul — if my Heaven will
be a kind of Hell.