Posted in theology

The Permanence of an Electrolux, and waste

By Elizabeth Prata


I grew up in a family of means, where the breathless rush of the ‘new’ was king. We bought the first and newest of everything. Color TV? Got one. Remote control? First on the block to have it. 27″ TV? Over there in the living room. Pong just came out? We played it. Central vacuum? Installed. And so on.

When I met my husband in 1990, I decided to switch gears, and we went the frugal route. Downsize. No debt. Use things till they break, and then if possible, fix them instead of buying new. I sold my new house with its mortgage, and he sold his. He owned a camp by a lake that had been in the family since the 1950s. Thus, it had no mortgage. “Camps” were the name for a summer seasonal dwelling by the lake to which the family would decamp from the city. The places were usually small and closed up after Labor Day. In the 1950s, moms would take the kids to camp and stay for the summer while dads worked in the city and arrived at ‘camp’ on weekends.

I was amazed that most of the furniture in the camp to which I and my husband moved still contained its original furniture. Floor to ceiling pole lamps, coiled, braided rugs, rattan rocking chair, heavy black dial phone, lol, and so on.

The vacuum cleaner was an Electrolux and it weighed a billion pounds. When I asked if we were going to get a new vacuum, he said why? it still works. And it did.

This was a new concept to me, no waste, keep using old things that still worked. My life had been one of disposable consumerism, so this was refreshing attitude because it took a lot of the weight off in needing to keep up with the latest and greatest.

When he and I later downsized again and moved onto the sailboat and cruised down the Atlantic Seaboard from Maine to the Bahamas, we passed a lot of garbage scows and barges. NYC harbor was full of garbage barges with piled-up trash, heading to some landfill or other. It was the first time I’d been visually confronted with the enormity of waste. It made me sad.

I love the beach. I spent a lot of time there growing up and in my early adulthood. I am fascinated with edges of things. The equator. The Southern US border. The tide line where the water meets the sand. At the tide line in the north there is usually a line of dead seaweed, kelp, broken shells, and other ocean detritus. It’s sort of an ocean version of the trash line except it’s natural and organic. It’s a great visual to show where the tide had been.

EPrata photo

You know what else makes me sad? Hell.

I think of all the piled up trash and the seaweed languishing there above the tide line and I envision those as flesh. All that wasted flesh that did not honor God. All that wasted flesh that Jesus disposes of in hell. I can’t imagine the piles of people in the gaping maw of hell. The Flood, all peoples on earth except Noah and his family cast into hell, the billions of people since all waste.

The worst waste is the people who did not honor God. Gentiles, AKA Pagans, do not honor God. They cannot. They are corrupt through and through with sin and God hates sin.

It seemed like the Electrolux was going to last forever, but it eventually died. Boy did my husband ever get his money’s worth out of that thing! Almost 50 years of life. But eventually it gasped its last and it went to the landfill where all the other waste went. No matter how permanent the vacuum cleaner seemed, no matter how well made it was, it eventually ran out of days for its life span.

Hell is real. It is a place where people who have denied Christ, sinned, loved the world will be cast to endure active, conscious punishment forever. Cast, thrown, like when you throw a used tissue into the trash. You don’t place it there, you throw it. You’re hurled without a second thought. That is how the people who did not repent will be thrown into the lake of fire which burns for all eternity.

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

This is weighty! This is huge! This requires some thought!

Hell is not a pleasant topic, but it is real and there are already billions of people dwelling there. My father died at the scene of a car crash in 2014. I am 99.999% sure he was outside of Christ. He was a rabid atheist for all his life, so… The concept of hell became personal to me on that date. Looking out over a beach and seeing the piles of dead seaweed reminds me of all the wasted flesh in hell, groaning and gnashing teeth, fists up against God and tormented forever. Jonathan Edwards said in his famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,

'Tis everlasting Wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this Fierceness and Wrath of Almighty God one Moment; but you must suffer it to all Eternity: there will be no End to this exquisite horrible Misery: When you look forward, you shall see a long Forever, a boundless Duration before you, which will swallow up your Thoughts, and amaze your Soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any Deliverance, any End, any Mitigation, any Rest at all; you will know certainly that you must wear out long Ages, Millions of Millions of Ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless Vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many Ages have actually been spent by you in this Manner, you will know that all is but a Point to what remains. So that our Punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh who can express what the State of a Soul in such Circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble faint Representation of it; 'tis inexpressible and inconceivable: for who knows the Power of God’s Anger?

Sheol, the barren womb, land never satisfied with water, and fire that never says, ‘Enough!’ (Proverbs 30:16)

No matter how long we live and however permanent things seem, they’re not. Whether you dispose of items as soon as the next pretty, shiny things come along or whether you keep it as long as possible, eventually things get thrown out. There is waste no matter how much we recycle. Of bodies, of human flesh that dies, that is the one thing that lasts FOREVER. The question is, where will you spend it?


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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