Letters: Some Cheers, Some Boos, For Afterlife Series

Robert Siegel and Melissa Block read emails from listeners, which provided a very mixed review of Robert Siegel's conversation about the afterlife Monday with Rev. Gabriel Salguero, pastor of The Lamb's Church in New York City and president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. That conversation opened All Things Considered's week-long look at what the afterlife means to religious leaders and scholars of different faiths.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's time now for your letters. Most Americans agree that there is an afterlife. But what does it look like? What's waiting for us on the other side? What if there isn't another side? Well, this week's series of discussions about the afterlife started with my conversation yesterday with the Reverend Gabriel Salguero. He is the pastor of The Lamb's Church in New York City, and he is president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NEWS)

REVEREND GABRIEL SALGUERO: So I'm going to see people from across the geographic spectrum and across the racial/cultural spectrum. I think that - I don't think there's a need for religion in heaven because we are already in the presence of the absolute.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Well, many of you had your own opinions on the afterlife and our conversation. William Saidel(ph) of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, wishes that conversation never happened. He writes this: Why in the world is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED wasting a valuable block of time in a news show featuring a story about investigating beliefs about the afterworld, something we can never know about no matter how deep the thoughts any commentator could make on the topic?

SIEGEL: Others listeners were more direct.

BLOCK: I never heard such twaddle, writes Frank Harris of Horseshoe Bay, Texas.

SIEGEL: But J.C. Harris(ph) of Des Moines, Washington, enjoyed my conversation with Reverend Salguero. And he wrote this on our website: It is becoming rarer and rarer to hear the views of the religious on NPR. He was a fine speaker, not just because his views somewhat match my own, but his gentle and thoughtful sincerity really came through.

BLOCK: And some of you shared your own philosophy on the afterlife. Peter Burrows(ph) from Commerce City, Colorado, isn't sure of what comes next, but he's keeping his options open. Refers back to Pascal's wager and he puts his version this way: I live by what I call Burrows' hedge. My working life has been spent in engineering and science, and I'm confident in the assumption that God does not exist. But he goes on, just in case, it's an easy side bet to live life in a way that, if I find out later I'm poorly informed about the afterlife or whatever's next, I'm not going to be in any big trouble.

SIEGEL: My series of conversations continues today with an interview about Islam and the afterlife. You can weigh in about this life or the next by visiting npr.org and by clicking on contact us.

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