• Jeff Johnston

Scooby-Doo & Purgatory


From the name alone it’s safe to assume this is a strange blog, enjoy.

As a self-admitted agnostic the concept of Heaven and Hell never drew me in like it has so many others. Having progressed from the bronze age, it seems so unnecessary to have to inject the idea of reward vs punishment to install morality or to change human behavior. Effective? Yes for the most part. Necessary? Not sure.


Was it necessary for the farmer to tell Shaggy, Fred , Velma and Scooby-Doo his land was haunted to scare them from finding out the truth? Wouldn’t it have been easier and more productive long term to just tell the truth and deal with the consequences? The truth, huh, an interesting concept for sure. I certainly can’t claim to know the truth in this regard. Good vs evil is a dichotomy that has been around for ages and it isn’t going away anytime soon. I certainly grasp the implied utility of such places existing, yet somehow the idea of purgatory is more intriguing to me than Heaven or Hell.


Maybe it’s because purgatory represents a lack of closure, or an “unresolved” state of being. It’s like being stuck literally “in the middle” and once you pay the correct toll you can advance. So, what is the toll? In the religious story the toll is living a holy, exceptionally good life on earth, thus at death you bypass purgatory and head straight to heaven.


That makes sense after death, but what about while you are still alive? So many of us are stuck in a personal purgatory. A “living hell” so aptly described by those caught in the middle of a life crisis or difficult situation. Trauma, grief and living within the unknown, or as I like to say, being human.


What’s the difference between just being in “limbo” and being in Purgatory and can there be a lesson in all this? The difference is punishment. Purgatory is punishment whereas being stuck in limbo is a state of waiting without punishment. It would seem being in limbo, from purely a mental health perspective, is much more welcoming and less terrifying as a state of mind. Imagine the amount of pressure, guilt and angst being released if you believed you were only in transition and evolving towards a better life as opposed to living “in sin” or being on the road to Hell.


If you don’t do “X” or if you don’t change you will forever be “stuck” in a place of suffering not only now but after your demise. Fear reigns true. Fear isn’t the best and certainly isn’t the most productive way to change behavior or instill motivation. Fear is far less authentic and genuine. Perhaps, looking at your life as a process and less of a torturous experience may help you deal with whatever self-inflicted or unfortunate pain and suffering you have endured? No matter what you believe, it certainly shouldn’t prohibit you from living an inspired life. Limbo vs purgatory, growth vs fear, improving our mental health.


Scooby-Doo featured four youths and a dog with many of the stories often revolving around a mystery which inevitably turned out not to be supernaturally infused, but simply a ruse to disguise the villain's true intent. A metaphor of life?

I told you this was a strange blog.


And to think “I would have gotten away with this blog, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”


Live Undeterred!


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