Maurice Sendak, famed children's author of books such as "Where the Wild Things Are," died earlier this week. In interviews, Sendak proudly explained his atheism and boldly said, "I don't need faith." His beliefs belie a man who reveled in things of this world and who has no concern with the next, leading to the question, where is he now?
In an interview conducted by Terry Gross of NPR's "Fresh Air," Sendak opened up about his childhood and growing up Jewish.
"I'm not a religious person," he told Gross. "Nothing ever means anything to me. I don't need [faith]. I don't believe in that."
"You know who my gods are?" Sendak asked rhetorically. "Who I believe in fervently: Herman Melville (author of 'Moby Dick'), Emily Dickinson (she's probably the top), Mozart, Shakespeare, Keats. These are wonderful gods who have gotten me through the narrow straits of life."
In the various interviews with Gross, Sendak almost bragged about his atheism.
"I am in love with the world … the seeing the trees, the beauty, reading the books, listening to the music," he once said. While Sendak embraced the things of this world, the Bible tells us "not to conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:1-3).
"Since I don't believe in another life, then this is it," he stated. "And when [friends] die, they are out of my life, they are gone forever. I'm not afraid of death," Sendak said.
Yet should he have been, since he did not attest to the love of God?
"No, I don't [believe in God]. I'm not unhappy about becoming old," Sendak said. "I don't believe in an afterlife but I still fully expect to see my brother again."
Unfortunately, the Bible is clear about Heaven and Hell. Christian beliefs dictate that souls head to one place or the other- beliefs like purgatory are not biblical.
Purgatory, Tony Warren writes, "is a belief that has absolutely no Biblical validation, and that consistently contradicts God's holy word. There has never been scriptural warrant for a doctrine," he notes on MountainRetreatorg.net.
"God doesn't want us to go [to hell]!" Reverend Billy Graham posted on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website. "If we do, it will only be because of our stubborn desire to leave God out of our lives."
It is unknown whether Sendak ever changed his mind and chose to believe in God, but if not, it is a missed opportunity for a man who reached millions of people.