IF YOU LIVE in Seattle, you're probably going to Hell when you die. This is a fact. A six-year study by Gallup placed our state as the lowest for church attendance in the nation, with only 29 percent going to church in a typical week. And reliable sources at the Seattle Public Library's information desk say that the figure for King County is roughly the same--30 percent, again according to Gallup. Though there is no hard data for Seattle specifically (which comprises about one third of King County's population), it's hard to believe that our REI-obsessed city could improve these dismal percentages. So, if most of us are not attending church, then, according to the Scriptures, most of us are bound for Hell.

Our pews are empty because we are not only a young city, but a city of youngsters. The Gallup poll shows that a high percentage of the residents in our region are in their 20s, and that this class of human is not worried about death or Hell. Indeed, why attend church when you have everything going for you? When time is on your side, all that matters is motion, movement, and pleasures of the flesh. As nothing in the world will convince us to change our lifestyles--to abandon our numerous nightclubs, restaurants, museums, and sport stadiums for daily prayers and instructive sermons--I decided to find out exactly what Hell is like, so we'll all be better prepared when we arrive there.

IN SEARCH OF HELL

In order to determine what Hell is like (government, culture, laws, and so on), I went on the hunt for a Christian bookstore with literature (or at least brochures) on the place. As I had no idea where such a bookstore might be located, I tried the University District, which is, as everyone knows, the youth capital of the state of Washington. Here, the bodies are fresh and full of life. The young men and women have no past, only the present, the here and now. A Christian bookstore in this part of town would make perfect sense, as it would represent nothing less than a head-on confrontation with Satan, to recover and save the souls he so overwhelmingly claims.

After a long walk in the U-District, I finally came across a Christian Science bookstore. I entered it and immediately was struck by the smell of death. Ignoring the stench, I searched the shelves for books on Hell. Surprisingly, I found nothing. So I asked the store attendant whether they sold books that discussed Hell. "We have plenty," she said, rising from her desk. "Where?" I asked, somewhat excitedly. "Everywhere," she said in a calm voice. All the while the smell of death, of a decomposing body, choked the store. "Can you show me the book?" I asked, looking under the book tables for the dead body. "Here," she said, pulling a book from a shelf. Its cover read, Health and Prayer. "No," I said, "Hell, not health." "We don't have much on that," she said with disappointment.

At that moment, a man in a dark blue uniform and baseball cap walked in. "They're in the back; we got about five, I think," she said to him. "I'll take care of it right away," he said with the confidence of a professional, and strode to the back of the store. "You got a problem with pests?" I asked, finally realizing where the death smell was coming from. "Yes, how could you tell? We have a rat problem, and we've been working on it for months. Let me open the door. The problem is you get used to the smell after a while." As there was no Hell in the store (only death), I walked out when she opened the door for fresh air.

Deciding not to waste any more time, I looked in the Yellow Pages for a Christian bookstore, and located one on Ninth and Harrison. I caught a bus there and soon found what I was looking for. Though the store, which is called Kaufer's Religious Supplies, didn't have any books specifically on Hell, it did have some with chapters and long passages on Hell. So I bought four of these books, and, after carefully studying them, got a pretty good idea of what our last world will look like. For your edification, let us now enter the "Gates of Hell."

WELCOME TO THE UNDERWORLD

First of all, you must realize that Hell--which is also known as "the hostile kingdom," "the pit," and "the land of darkness, dust, worms, and of no return" (The Collegeville Concise Glossary of Biblical Terms)--is in a state of war. It has been ever since Satan and his followers attempted a coup d'ètat in Heaven. God foiled their plans and sent them into exile forever. This land of exile is what is called Hell, and it is located "under the earth" (The Collegeville Concise Glossary of Biblical Terms).

Hell's economy is basically a war economy, and your soul is what's at stake in this war. As the Quick and Easy Guide to Bible Prophesy puts it, "[Heaven and Hell are] involved in a life and death struggle, a battle over the spiritual condition of our soul." The good news is that you are not required to fight in this war. The angels and demons who are the administrators of these opposed realms (they support the thrones of their masters, protect their masters, draw chariots, and so on) do all the fighting. The bad news is that there is no other good news in Hell. Everything else about the place is very unpleasant.

Government-wise, Hell is not a democracy. There are no voting privileges for its citizens; they have no say in how the place is run. All you are permitted to do is "cry and grit your teeth" (Holy Bible) as the demons torture you. And your screaming always falls on deaf ears--no one in Hell registers your pain and complaints. Satan, who is also called "Lucifer," "the Devil," "the father of lies," "the deceiver," and "the dragon" (The Second Coming of Jesus), is a despot whose level of cruelty and determination to destroy his opponents makes any Third World tyrant look like a sissy.

The climate and geography of Hell is intolerable. It is as hot as a "flaming furnace" (Holy Bible), with eternally burning lakes of fire (there is no water in Hell!) and weeds everywhere. There is no light in Hell, no daytime, just an "eternal night" (Holy Bible); fire is its main natural resource. There seems to be no end to the fire; it just burns and burns and causes "eternal destruction" (Holy Bible). Finally, though you are allowed to work in Hell (or labor for your sins), it is Sisyphus-like work. For example, you dig holes and then fill them up, or push a rock up a hill and then let it roll back down. As The Collegeville Concise Glossary of Biblical Terms puts it, "It is a futile place and meaningless existence for all the dead."

I hope this information will help you better understand "the nation of Hell" (Places in the Bible), and make your transition from this prosperous and rainy city to that desiccated, fiery world a little easier.