Is Robin Williams in Hell?

Here’s a re-post of one of my earlist blogs, dedicated to actor-comedian Robin Williams, who died on this date four years ago.


Robin Williams’ death brought on the expected flood of tributes, but also a smaller wave of hellfire pronouncements by judgmentalists—because Robin lived a sometimes sinful life and died at his own hands. These warnings were countered by gentler folk who chose to focus on Robin’s many acts of kindness. But who’s right? Neither.

Because eternity isn’t about goodness or badness.*

It’s about relationships, according to the Bible (although actions can reveal what’s in a person’s heart). King David was called “a man after God’s own heart” despite the fact that he was an adulterer and a murderer. The Apostle Peter disowned Jesus on the night of His arrest, but was later called to lead His church. According to Jesus, the unforgivable sin is not suicide, but “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” refusing God’s life-giving Presence. But if bad behavior is not a guaranteed ticket to hell, neither is good behavior a ticket to heaven: “Many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not [do good works] in your name?’ And I will reply, ‘I never knew you.’” (Matthew 7:22-23)  Reflecting on this, I recall an epiphany from my youth:

I was ten, and had reached the end of a gleefully misbehaving day. My cronies and I had been lobbing olives at cars (our neighborhood was built on the site of an old olive grove), which would erupt in purple explosions against windshields, causing reactionary curses and wild careens. It was all good—well, alright, evil—fun until Mom spotted us! She’d come to the door to proclaim the dinner banns. There must have been some guilt in my pre-manly breast, for when she called me home, whispering “Wait till your father finds out about this,” I thought, “Why didn’t she call Rory instead?” Rory was the only kid who’d refused to throw olives. And then, lo, a marvelous truth fell upon me, “She didn’t call him in because she’s not his mom, she’s my mom!” And nothing, even the fact that I did really bad stuff, could change that!

Interestingly, this realization didn’t result in a torrent of licentious behavior. In fact, it had the opposite effect. Sure, I did other bad stuff, but I never threw olives at cars again. Once I’d realized living with Mom and Dad was a gift, it made me want to do better. Of course, there would be hell to pay when Dad got home.

But not hell to go to. 

Because heaven and hell are about who we know, not what we do. (John 17:3)

Robin’s death hit me hard. He had an immeasurable impact on my career as a writer and a humorist. I also have a similar psychopathology and a kindred tendency toward ADDled monologuing. But what I always found most compelling about Robin was the humanity beneath his persona, the desire to make a connection with his audience, to be real and, yes, to be loved.

Did he long for that kind of connection with God? There are indications he did: he was a professing Episcopalian and a fan of C.S. Lewis, old+cottage+1-1whose books contain profound explorations of faith (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was reportedly Robin’s favorite book). I hope so. I’ll even settle for an 11th hour “Thief on the Cross” conversion–I so want to spend time with him when we’re all…

Finally called Home.

* This post avoids the questions of what, where, or even if, heaven and hell are. We’ll explore that another time.

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Popular Culture & Entertainment, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

The Wishing Map 127

Love is the best antidote for the disease of self-delusion.

Mitch Teemley

Wishing pix-Title-(framed)

Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.

The Wishing Map

Chapter Twenty-Four: The Long Night (continued)

Previously: Gina’s Questing Beast assumed a form she could not kill: that of herself.

⇔ ⇔ ⇔

“Let go of her, you freak!” Zack shouted. “You can’t have her!” More kicking and squishy punches…a loud stomp followed by a horrid, wheezy shriek…more lashing, followed by a muddy slipping sound, a hard sack-of-potatoes grunt, and a strangled, “Ow, crap! Ow! No! You stupid piece of…“ Zack’s voice gurgled to silence. All that remained was a torturous wheeze, like air rushing out of a hole in a tire.

“Zack? What’s wrong?” With every shred of will, Gina forced herself to look away from Divine Gina. What she saw made no sense. There on the turf was Zack—with Divine Gina’s foot on his neck. Why would she put her foot on his neck? And why did her…

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Doubt and Faith


Part Two: Faith

(To read Part One, click here)

“Count it all joy when various trials fall upon you, because the testing of your faith produces perseverance; and perseverance, when it has completed its work, will make you whole and complete, lacking in nothing.” ~James 1:2-4

Untested faith is not faith. True faith is a muscle which, when properly strengthened, enables us to hold onto the one in whom we place our trust. That’s why James can say that trials are cause for joy. Not happiness, mind you; happiness is temporal (eating pizza and ice cream makes me happy; looking at the bathroom scale the next morning does not). But drawing nearer to God, no matter the test ahead—or rather because of it—brings me joy, which, unlike happiness, transcends the temporal state (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Are emotional results instantaneous? No. Muscles don’t grow bigger the second you start pumping iron. But there can be break-through moments: I wrestled for months with a huge amount of stress over one of the most important projects of my life, losing sleep, waking up early obsessing over everything that remained undone. I spoke these words aloud again and again: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). And I earnestly believed them, having experienced the truth of them too many times to count. But my emotions hadn’t gotten the message yet.

Emotions tend to lag behind the convictions of heart and mind.

And then last week, eleven hours into a fifteen hour project day, I told my emotions, “Look, I’m gonna do this with or without you.” An hour later, a remarkable peace engulfed my body: my heart slowed down and my lungs expanded. I knew instantly that this was no mere tropical islet; I’d hit the mainland. And despite the ongoing challenges of the project, that peace has been with me ever since. And it will be…

Until the next big trial opportunity to grow in faith.

Some additional thoughts on faith:

“Faith certainly tells us what the senses do not, but not the contrary of what they see; it is above, not against them.” ~Blaise Pascal

 “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart. And try to love the questions themselves.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

“Faith is not the intellectual acceptance of a body of doctrine; faith is faith in a person.” ~William Barclay

“It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.” ~Soren Kierkegaard

“Faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we cannot see.” ~Hebrews 11:1

“It’s a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand.” ~Madeleine L’Engle

“Faith goes up the stairs that love has built and looks out the window hope has opened.” ~Charles Spurgeon

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Ticket to Heaven?

candleoflove-o9ko3xReal faith, life-changing faith, isn’t legal, it’s relational. So if you’re asking, “How do I get into heaven?” you’re asking the wrong question. Heaven is God’s home, as it were, and the way to “get in” isn’t to pick the lock (complete some arduous task) or learn the combination (believe all the right things).      It’s to be his child.

“To all who received Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”  ~John 1:12

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“You can’t control your fate by refusing to make choices! I didn’t discover my destiny until I faced my circumstances. I had to make hard, awful choices, choices I didn’t want to make. I made terrible mistakes, but that was when I discovered who I was. It’s not about control— control is an illusion. It’s about making choices you don’t want to make.  That’s what decides your destiny.”  ~Aunt Aloysia (The Wishing Map)

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Why (at Least) One Bad Thing Happened

Two years ago I spoke about the way God uses unexpected and even disastrous events in our lives for ultimate good. I’m in the midst of some tumultuous events at the moment, so it seemed to like a good time to revisit these observations. May you be blessed in the unexpected! ~Mitch

Mitch Teemley


 Why Life Isn’t Fair (a series of sorts)

I don’t often get a sense of “why bad things happen.” You know, the “senseless” stuff you didn’t plan on and most likely would not have put in a requisition order for—illness, lost income, the death of a friend. But last fall I got a glimpse of what purpose at least one bad thing may have served.

My car was entering the final curve on a nearby hill when the tail lights on the vehicle in front of me lit up. No big, I was already starting to brake anyway. Except that this guy was braking harder than me. Way harder. So I pressed down with maximum verve and angled my steering wheel toward the median to avoid any inappropriate bumper intimacy. This maneuver should have been enough, but slick yellow median paint is not traction-friendly stuff. My car’s wheels locked and…

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Learn Your Native American Name

Fun! And educational too!

Indian name

No stereotypes were injured during the making of this blog.

Posted in Humor, Mitchellaneous, Popular Culture & Entertainment | Tagged , , , , , , | 31 Comments