This is a cautionary tale that bears retelling.
The man, after a lifetime of being a grifter and gambler, dies and finds himself standing by the Pearly Gates talking with St. Peter.
St. Peter said, “You have just completed your lifetime on Earth, a lifetime that was governed by free will. Now you have the opportunity to exercise that free will for one last time. You will be given the choice of where you want to spend eternity, in Heaven or in Hell.”
The man was astonished, thinking that his fate had already been sealed and that he was in for the rest of the eternal ride in the nether regions. “I’ll take Heaven,” he said with a wide grin.
“Not so fast,” St. Peter said, “you’ll have to take a couple of tours so that you will know just what sort of eternity you are choosing. Follow me and I’ll show you Heaven.”
They enter through the Pearly Gates and the man sees large groups of people sort of milling around, all bathed in the light of complete love, blissfully communing with one another as angelic choirs provided constant songs of heavenly praise. They spend a few moments taking in the scene then St. Peter leads him back to the gates and says, “Satan will now escort you to his place and then you will have to choose between the two. Your choice will be irrevocable so give it proper consideration.”
Satan and the man get into a cosmic elevator and zoom down to below the Earth. They step out of the lift and the man sees a long, fertile, green valley. They stroll through the lush greenery for a bit and come to what looked like an Alpine village in early Summer.
There are people walking along a wide boulevard, couples playing in the park and others sitting at street side cafes, smiling at each other as they enjoyed their meals.
Satan led the man into the lobby of what appeared to be a five star hotel and said, “this will be your home for the eternity if you choose to go along with our program.”
“Not at all what I expected Hell to be like,” the man said.
“No.” Satan said, “we have been getting a lot of bad press on Earth. In fact, we have modeled everything here to be like what you always had on Earth, only a thousand times better. Those folks,” he said as he jabbed a thumb upwards, “up there promise something different, a new sort of life in eternity but we offer what you’ve always been used to only much more pleasant.”
As they crossed the lobby, Satan said, “go through those doors, you’ll find a sauna and afterwards a masseuse will give you a rub down. I’ll wait out here for you.”
An hour later the man returned, completely relaxed and rejoined his escort. “Now for a meal,” Satan said. They left the hotel and went into a large, very posh restaurant and were escorted to table by the window, one that provided an excellent view of the still snow capped Alps.
“No menus here,” Satan said, “anything you ask for will be prepared and brought to you.”
After they dined Satan took the man back to the elevator and said, “You’ve seen enough now to make a comparison so it’s time for you to tell St. Peter which you prefer.”
They stepped off the elevator at the Pearly Gates and walked over to where St. Peter was waiting. St. Peter asked, “have you come to a decision?” The man could barely hide his enthusiasm as he said, “You bet, I’ll take Hell.”
As Satan Grinned devilishly, St. Peter said, “then Hell it is. Satan, he’s all yours.”
The pair took the elevator back down. This time as the doors opened they were met with a strong odor of sulfur and the screams and moans of tortured souls. The site that greeted them was far from verdant, it was instead pits of molten rock and towering flames. Imps with whips lashed the backs of the inhabitants while mocking them for their very existence.
“What’s this,” the man screamed in terror. “This isn’t what you promised. Where are the mountains, the cool air, the restaurants and saunas, the happy people?”
“Oh that,” Satan said. “That was the campaign. Now that we have your vote we don’t need to do that anymore.”