Three Days in Purgatory

I’ve never really understood the concept of purgatory. As a Baptist, we routinely got a good helping of heaven talk and a big heaping portion of hellfire and damnation. But purgatory was a foreign concept. But now, I’m here to tell you it’s real. I just spent three days in purgatory and am completely reformed, albeit my back now aches to high heavens. 

Basically, the deputy stuffed a bunch of us poor souls into a small courtroom where we all waited on hard pew-like benches for what seemed like eternity. Eventually, the deputy divided us into two groups. I happened to be in the second group, which didn’t even get to experience the excitement of being questioned by the judge. We just had to wait in limbo for three days in case another trial happened to get started, in which case our presence might be needed to determine guilt or innocence. But it didn’t get started, so I just sat for three days.

Besides the hard benches, I’m not complaining. I spent most of my three days of sitting doing two of my favorite activities: reading and people watching. I read more in those three days than I had in the three previous months. As far as people watching goes, I’m here to report that the three most popular activities for people stuck in limbo are 1) endless cell-phone scrolling 2) stuporous staring at the floor and 3) well, to be honest, there really wasn’t a close third. There were a few other people who brought books and few people who slept, but most everyone else just scrolled and stared, scrolled and stared, scrolled and stared.

Another thing I noticed was how bureaucracy manifests itself in courtroom attire. The judges wore robes and the inmates wore jumpsuits and the deputies wore uniforms and the attorneys wore suits and the jurors wore orange stickers that said “JURY.” As a career government employee, I’ve seen my fair share of bureaucratic nonsense, but I guess I’m kinda lucky that we can still wear comfortable casual clothes at the agriculture office.

So, I have mixed feelings about jury duty. In some ways, it was a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of everyday life–plus I got paid 12 dollars per day to just sit and read. But it was also a sad and depressing place. Someone who is Catholic (looking at you, Steven) will have to explain to me how exactly purgatory is supposed to work in the afterlife and whether or not jury duty is a fitting resemblance on this mortal coil. All I know is I did my civic duty.

13 thoughts on “Three Days in Purgatory

  1. In the distant past, I had a coworker who was called for jury duty and questioned about possible biases several times. She was excused every time after giving truthful answers to questions about her family and line of work. The defense feared that somebody with so many relatives in law enforcement would be eager to convict. The prosecution feared that a mathematician would have absurdly high standards for proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” and be eager to acquit. Both sides wanted to send her away pronto.

    1. I think I would have been dismissed too if they ever got around to questioning me because I know so many local law enforcement officers since I work for the county. But they dismissed us before even questioning us.

  2. Three great ways to get out of jury duty.
    1. Say that you believe all drugs should be legalized and that if someone wants to OD, that’s their choice.
    2. Have a disability.
    3. Be over 65.

    I was on a jury once. Then, when I moved to Florida, I was called every year until I asked someone why that was happening. Finally, I turned 65 and haven’t been called since.

    Just watch. I’ll be called again next year just for that Halibut. Seems fishy to me.

    1. Yeah, I’m glad I never got questioned, but I suspect I would have probably been dismissed because I know a lot of law enforcement officers for the county, so they defense attorney probably wouldn’t have liked it. Supposedly, the trial was a gun case, where they found a convicted felon with a gun. Here’s hoping you don’t get called.

  3. Purgatory is basically a postmortem state wherein the saved are purified of lingering attachments to sin and disordered passions before they can enjoy the Beatific vision. Someone I once read compared it to fasting, and I tend to think of it as being purified as though by fire in the intense presence of God’s love. I think your description of jury duty could be a valid illustration as well! Imagine: spending much of our lives mired in busyness, aware of God’s presence in our lives but not succeeding in fully sloughing off the innumerable distractions to become as attentive as we could be…then after death we find ourselves in a heavenly courtroom where we’re not on trial, but rather we’re told to just sit and wait. And wait. Forced to face ourselves in full measure perhaps for the first time, with God’s help we confront our disordered desires and all the parts of ourselves that weren’t fully sanctified, eventually by God’s grace moving from a state of misery and boredom to peace beyond all measure and finally ready to enter fully into the joy of God’s unremitted presence.

    1. Well, I knew you could enlighten me. It’s makes sense in a way. I’m not exactly sure why protestants and catholics differ on it though? I remember reading the Great Divorce by CS Lewis a long time ago, and I kind of got the sense that he believed in purgatory so maybe anglicans believe in as well?

      1. I think the primary reason why Protestants and Catholics historically differ on the subject is because during the Reformation era the doctrine of Purgatory went hand-in-hand with the doctrine of indulgences and therefore it was associated with all the corruption and simony associated with the sales of indulgences. Plus the way Medieval Catholicism thought of Purgatory in terms we would probably both agree sound legalistic, and contemporary Catholicism has sought to abandon some of the more excessive Medieval images and return to the core idea of Purgatory more in line with early Patristic thought. C.S. Lewis I think believed in something akin to Purgatory, though not in the way Roman Catholicism understood it. As far as Anglicanism goes, the 39 Articles which forms the backbone of Anglican doctrinal belief, officially condemns the “Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory”, but from what I’ve read it seems that a good number of contemporary Anglo-Catholics accept the essential concept of a post-mortem cleansing of our remaining disorders and sins.

  4. For as long as we’ve been together, Steven has always had a book with him when we get in the car. . .no matter how long the intended trip is to be–could just be to the grocery store. I’ve finally started doing it myself. Sometimes, I take some crochet. People look at me like I have two heads as I wait in the repair shop reading an actual book. . .

    1. Yeah, I was definitely in the pronounced minority with an actual book, which makes me kind of sad. I guess some people could have been reading an e-book on their cell phones, but I still prefer to read a physical, tactile book if possible. Lol. my wife has crochet hooks and yarn stashed in various vehicles, as well.

  5. I almost dud Jury Service…can be extremely dull. Purgatory is a funny place…limbo, not really good or bad, just waiting on a list to be chosen. I am not religious but theology does interest me.

    1. Yeah, besides jury duty, I find limbo weird in real life–just kind a strange uncomfortable state of mind. I’d rather just make a decision and go with it than to have to wait around.

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