Yesterday Kish and I were walking home after watching a movie. As we passed the Ohio Statehouse, an earnest young man wearing a coat and tie handed us a small pamphlet entitled Heaven or Hell — Which One Will You Choose?
I don’t think I’ve ever actually read a religious tract handed out by a street corner Bible thumper. This time, though, rather than immediately toss the pamphlet into the trash — which is what the woman walking directly in front of us did — I decided to put it in my pocket to review later.
Admittedly, the colorful cover page is provocative, with its depiction of Earth in the balance between an ethereal heaven and a fiery-lettered hell. Printed in nearby Lebanon, Ohio, by the Fellowship Tract League, the pamphlet clearly had some decent production values. But, in my view, the contents weren’t exactly written to persuade the presumed audience.
The pamphlet begins with the words “Are you going to heaven or to hell? The Bible teaches . . . . ” and then launches into quotes about lost souls being tossed into a lake of fire and how to be saved from that grim fate. But if you don’t already believe in heaven or hell, why would you worry about this threshold question? And if you aren’t already a believer, why would anything written in the Bible be considered especially compelling — any more than, say, the words found in some Hindu religious treatise? Fortunately, the publishers ask anyone who is saved by the pamphlet to write and let the publishers know, so at least there is data being gathered that will let us know whether the pamphlet is doing its job.
Well, at least now I can say that I’ve read a street corner religious tract.