I am sharing a letter to a religious family member. I struggle constantly with a malady of the religious conservative . . . those that are prone to judge. Of course, I see the same diseased religion on the left that bases their judgment on skin tone or sex.
As you know, I am a critic of religion (in general). This doesn't mean I am denying Jesus' words because his words make much sense. His words are not judgemental and tell us we are free from sin & accusation for all and for all time. I guess this is the reason why I responded to your judgment of Dad in regards to eternal salvation. It is not for us to judge. It is for us to try to understand and love.
Being critical of our own beliefs is the fire and anvil we use to prove our own beliefs. Being critical of Christianity is hugely important. The reason I can justify my criticism is that the lives of those we loved and needed, those lives that lived the closest to Christian doctrine were hurt the most by the religion they practiced. These people also caused pain in my own life. How can this be?
I get the feeling that you want the world to be black and white. It is a safe place. I think most people are this way because the world is full of contradiction and turmoil. The problem with summing up people as "this or that" is we are then prone to judge improperly.
It alarms me greatly that you would choose, if your choice, to throw Dad's life away completely into an eternal damnation. I have so much criticism of Dad, I would be the last person to defend him. However, I would not eternally condemn him . . . what makes me God? Where would be my compassion? I am more inclined to think that the judgment we cast on others will return to us many times over. This is what makes me concerned about your words. I also think you judge yourself too much.
I would ask that you let go of your judgment, Sue. Things that happened to us, bad things, can never be rectified or straightened. This is life. Judgement of people or ourselves is hugely destructive and is like sucking on razor blades. Dad and grandpa (the Stockton side) were hugely judgemental and pious. Conceited & arrogant in their religion and beliefs. This has absolutely nothing to do with the Jesus I have read.
I, your brother, who shared so many of these experiences in our youth, would plead with you to allow for people to be wrong, selfish, broken, and misled. None of these critical human flaws deserve your judgment and condemnation. They need more of our understanding and compassion.