|Fern|| It's early in the morning and so far Fern has yet to see anyone wander into the church. Guess it's not hot enough yet for people to go in and cool off. The kid waits outside for a bit longer before she eventually steps into the church quietly, closing the door behind her with a gentle hand. Still, there has to be at least some sort of grunt or squeak from the hinges.
Once inside, Fern begins to glance about, walking a few paces before she finds herself a spot to lean against a pew in the back. Her eyes are scanning the room, looking for someone. It's probably Tina.
|Tina||The auditorium of the church is deserted when Fern enters, though faint sounds can occasionally be heard from the doorways flanking the pulpit. After a few minutes, Tina emerges with an armload of hymn books, which she begins to place on the pews. Spying Fern, she smiles. "Welcome back to the church, Miss Fern. How may I help you?" she asks warmly, bowing her head briefly.|
|Fern||Fern stands a bit straighter when she sees Tina, and as her arms cross over her chest she says, "Mmm.. Nothin' much.. Was just curious about sumthin', I guess." She pauses there and starts to walk a little closer so she doesn't have to speak too loud. "How much do you know about Heaven and Hell? That's what it's called, right? The places they say you go when you die? You know much about it?" she checks, sounding as curious as she looks.|
|Tina||"A scary sort of question. I do know something about them, but not as much as is written. Like the Lord himself, they are a mystery, and we are likely not meant to know more of them in this life," Tina replies. "but please, ask, and I will try to answer," she continues gently, setting the last of the hymn books aside and approaching Fern at a brisk walk.|
|Fern||"Mmm.. Alright," Fern agrees, remaining standing next to a pew and leaning into it slightly. She watches Tina come closer, and once they are close enough to talk normally she says, "I heard people say that when you die you either go to Heaven or Hell.. Or maybe Limbo if you have stuff to figure out.. or something.. And you gotta be a good person to go to Heaven.. And if you're bad, you go to Hell. But.. what's the difference?"|
|Tina||"Well... it's not as simple as that. And yet, it is much simpler," Tina replies softly. "There does seem to be some disagreement in the texts as to which is fully correct, but belief in the Lord God, his Son, and the Holy Spirit, and acceptance of them into your heart and life, is enough to guarantee you a place in Heaven... and yet there are some who say that if you are not as good as you could be, and die with unconfessed sins weighing on your heart, that you will be sent to Purgatory, until your sins are cleansed, and then you go to Heaven. But if you do not believe in Him, you are condemned to Hell."
She pauses, nodding as if to herself, then continues. "That is the basic way it is supposed to work, according to the Good Book and some other texts commenting on it. Belief is the most important thing, but trying to change yourself by confessing and repenting of your sins is also important. Belief should change you, and make you /want/ to be a better person, you see. Does that make sense to you?"
|Fern||"Yeah, I guess it makes sense, but you still ain't told me what Heaven or Hell is like. I heard Heaven is like.. up in the clouds? And Hell is under us and it's all fire and stuff.. Is that true?" Fern asks with a squinting of her eyes and a tighter crossing of arms over her chest. "If you go to Heaven you can be an angel and if you go to Hell you burn for eternity cause Satan's a dick," she says. "That true?"|
|Tina||"Those are the popular conceptions of them, and there may be some truth to them," Tina replies thoughtfully. "In some ways they are a mystery, and shall remain a mystery until we leave this life. There is a lot of talk about why they are the way they are, and I could discuss it with you in detail if you have an afternoon or two available and wish to spend them like that. But the basic idea is that Heaven is a place in the presence of the Lord God, where sickness and death and misery cannot enter. Perhaps it's way up there beyond the clouds, or perhaps it is in another place entirely, someplace we can never see, find, or go in this life. Hell is likewise unfindable, but it is the opposite of Heaven... it is a place apart from God, and is said to be a lake of fire where those who did not truly believe will eventually be cast. Even Satan himself will share this fate, the Good Book says... he rules over sin until then, but when the Day of Judgement comes, he will be as powerless as the weakest unbeliever."
She looks back at the pulpit for a long moment, collecting her thoughts once more, then back at Fern. "That's an important part of it all, too... the Day of Judgement. Some say that the dead are already in Heaven with Him, or in Hell with Satan, while others say that this will only happen on the Day of Judgement. The Good Book points to the latter explanation. But many things have been written since then. Some of them are more scholarly than others, but all agree and disagree on these two things. Popular sentiment only confuses things more. But angels are their own sort of being, much like spirits, demons, and devils... you don't become an angel when you go to Heaven. Maybe you do gain wings and a golden harp, though... I don't really know. But you probably don't become an angel."
|Fern|| "Why would you need a golden harp?" Fern asks, making a face that suggests the idea is crazy to her. "Seems a bit much if everyone has a harp. I mean.. mix it up a little, yeah? A harp, maybe a golden flute or something.. But harps? For everyone? Like a 'you did it!' prize or something." She chuckles lightly, then quiets.
"So.. you really believe it, huh? What happens if.." she thinks. "What if someone you know dies, and they go to Hell, but you die and go to Heaven. Will you remember them and be sad because they are in Hell or will you not remembet them? How does that work?"
|Tina||"It does sound a little silly, doesn't it?" Tina asks, with a girlish giggle. "It's probably one of those old popular ideas that got around before the War. As for the other question? I really don't know. I would hope I would remember people I knew, if we were separated by Heaven and Hell, but I just don't know. It's just another mystery," she adds regretfully. "I'm truly sorry I can't tell you more about it."|
|Fern|| "It's okay. Not your fault. They coulda been a lot more clear in the books. I mean.. why not just talk about it more? I'm sure if they gave more details, there would be lots more people who wanted to be good," Fern says with a little shrug. She then wonders something else.
"What if you're a really good person, but don't believe in God? Would a horrible person who believe in God get into Heaven instead? Seems kinda backwards, no?"
|Tina||"I suppose there are some things we just aren't meant to know in this life," Tina muses. "It could be argued that if they are horrible people, they don't truly believe... though there is no guarantee that's true. But as bad as it may seem, a potentially really good person may still be condemned to Hell if they don't truly believe. Perhaps they believe it in their hearts, even if they never say as much. I hope so. I don't like to think that a truly good person might be condemned."|
|Fern||Still thinking on it, Fern eventually asks, "What if they were.. sorta-okay people? Maybe they were once good, but then they were bad? And maybe they didn't mean to be bad? What if they could have been better, but.. weren't the worst? Where do you think they would end up?" Fern wonders, now watching Tina a bit more seriously.|
|Tina||"If they were once good, then I would hope they would remember how to be good again before their time came. But if not, they might be condemned to Purgatory. Or even Hell, if they didn't truly believe," Tina says worriedly. "And let's not forget the people who say they believe, but really don't... the frauds who act righteous and good, but in their hearts never truly believe. Some of those give up their fraudulent behavior later, while others maintain it until death. It's one of the reasons I'm glad it is the Lord God's decision as to what happens to whom, since he is all-knowing, and cannot be deceived by falsehoods."
She gives Fern a thoughtful look. "Not to pry, but I begin to wonder if you are thinking of a specific person. Am I correct?" she asks gently.
|Fern||"Mmm. Not really," Fern says, though it is evident by the look on her face that she is lying. "Just curious is all. Cause.." she thinks. "What if they never knew about God, and they were bad and they died before they could know about him. What do you think about that? It might not be their fault they didn't know, so would they be banished to Hell for something not their fault?"|
|Tina||"That's a question I just don't know the answer to," Tina says sadly, shaking her head. "I can only hope that such a person will learn about God by chance, and change and be changed for the better."
She looks into Fern's eyes, if Fern doesn't look away or turn away from her gaze. "As for your unknowing person whose soul you care and fear for... I would be glad to teach them about believing, and about the Lord God and the Good Book and its message, if they should want to learn. It would be nothing less than my duty to do so, and my pleasure as well."
|Fern|| Fern holds that gaze for just a bit longer before she so nonchalantly says, "Nah. They're dead now anyway. No sense in talking to them when they're in one of those places." She gives a shrug of her right shoulder, then glances back towards the exit once, stepping back onto her left foot.
"Well, I gotta get out of here anyway. Thanks for answering all my questions. Got rounds to make now." She gives a little salute and then turns to head on out.
|Tina||"Maybe you could pray for them?" Tina suggests, as Fern turns to leave. "Wherever they are, but especially if they are not in Hell, they might hear you and be comforted that you remember them."|
|Fern||Pausing near the door as she reaches to open it, Fern thinks it over for a second, then says, "Nah. They were assholes. probably deserved it." She turns then, stepping out and letting the door close behind her.|