How To Stop Believing In Hell


By Robert Kimball (Robert Clayton)

ISBN: 978-1-84991-817-6
Published: 2012
Pages: 309
Key Themes: Mental Health, Schizophrenia, Religion, Personal Experience


How to Stop Believing in Hell: a Schizophrenic’s Religious Experiences is about ending a lifelong fear of Hell. It should attract the interest of anyone who suffers from spiritual terror. There are a great many such people. The book is often dark and sometimes comic.

Robert Clayton had a beautiful early childhood spent in an adobe house in the Sonoran Desert. Then he was spooked by religion. At ten, he was praying continuously to drive away blasphemous thoughts. At eleven, he asked God to destroy his immortal soul so that he couldn’t go to Hell. He took a vow of perpetual celibacy when he was thirteen. At twenty, he lived in terror that he was all that existed and that he was already dead and in Hell.

He began stealing from churches. By committing sacrilege he hoped to separate myself from God and the fear of God. Later he committed the unforgivable sin by blaspheming the Holy Ghost. He ceased to believe in God, but he still believed in Hell.

He was hospitalized. After a few months, he received passes on Sundays to attend services at an independent Pentecostal church. He had learned that the church members didn’t believe in Divine punishment. He was led before the altar and told to repeat various pious phrases. The phrases soon became nonsense syllables. He repeated those. Then his tired tongue began spastically uttering nonsense on its own. He still believed in Hell.

He had sex for the first time with another mental patient at the hospital to break his vow of celibacy. It was quick and mechanical. There was no foreplay. It didn’t help. After being discharged, he became an alcoholic and heroin addict. After he quit his addictions, he began walking down crowded sidewalks speaking loud nonsense and screaming. He tried very hard to stop and couldn’t. He found a job as an elevator operator. He began talking to himself, then screaming on the elevator. He was fired and became one of the many crazy street people in his city.

After an act of providence that allowed him to reason disingenuously against his lifelong beliefs, he escaped his fears and eventually became a successful lawyer.

About the Author

Robert Kimball has a B.A. in English, magna cum laude, from the University of Arizona and a J.D. from the University of Virginia. He is a Phi Beta Kappa. He taught a variety of high school subjects in Arizona and Mexico for thirteen years. He was an attorney for the Federal Communications Commission until he retired. He has written many published decisions on matters such as aid to the handicapped, free speech, pornography, corporate mergers and the right to extend telecommunications lines. He was born July 4th, 1945.

Book Extract

Desert Furniture The houses in our subdivision, Villa Asoleada, were still few and far between. Wandering in the desert when it was dry, looking at the ground under my feet like Milton’s Moloch, I searched for treasure. Treasure for me was any compact, blunt object small enough to fit in my palm and metallic. Sparkplugs were fun. When Charlie was still leading me around as though I were retarded, two houses began to be built near us. We liked to steal what looked interesting from the construction sites. We especially liked the nickel-sized metal disks that the workmen pried out of electrical boxes. I learned to value practical-looking artifacts that no longer had any practical use. If they had too much complexity about them, I would mar them, peeling that complexity away if I could. They stimulated my imagination, especially if I didn’t know what they were. When my father explained the sparkplug in my hand to me, sparkplugs stopped being interesting.

We stole things from the building sites sometimes that were valuable. I remember, it must have been on a Sunday, when Charlie and I each took an end of a long two-by-four we could scarcely lift and carried it to our side patio. Charlie explained to me that it was all right to take it because “they have extras.” We called each other José and Carlos, the names of workmen we’d run into at the sites. We briefly fought over who would get to be called Carlos and who would have to be called José. The names didn’t mean anything, of course, but we both sensed that one was more dignified than the other. We employed lots of hammers, saws, nails and other tools from the utility closet off the kitchen. As we worked, we pretended to speak Spanish. We had some of the accent and could insert interrogatory and exclamatory intonations after chunks of nonsense. We made a mess of the clean two-by-four, took it back to the worksite, and got another.

About the time my youngest brother, Jimmy, was born, Grandpa took Charlie and me to a theater, which was later refurbished. The balcony became the Hotel Arizona. The movie Grandpa took us to was “King Solomon’s Mines” starring Stewart Granger. In one scene, Maasai, hopping up and down as though they were on pogo sticks, chanted what sounded like a single word over and over. They shouted “heladotin.” It was the best scene in the movie, of which my brother and I understood little. As we left the theater Charlie and I began chanting “heladotin” and hopping up and down. Grandpa asked us what we were doing. We explained. He told us the Maasai in the picture were not saying “heladotin.” We insisted that they were. There was such freedom in the chanting of the word. Thirty years later I watched King Solomon’s Mines on television. No one said “heladotin” or anything close to it. But Charlie and I still say it.

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This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 23 August, 2012.