This weeks Christmas edition of The Economist talks about hell:
Into everlasting fire
For hundreds of years, Hell has been the most fearful place in the human imagination. It is also the most absurd
Dec 22nd 2012 | from the print edition
TO MANY in the West, Hell is just a medieval relic. It went out with ducking stools and witchcraft. It should have disappeared with Plato, who said he wanted to delete every reference to future pain from Homer as damaging to moral character; or with Cicero, who said not even old women believed it; or with Seneca, who thought it a fable only for not-yet-shaving boys.
Hell hardly hurts any more. In everyday parlance (“What the hell are you doing?”), it is merely a bark, not a place. As a place, it is anywhere nasty: the London Underground in summer, the worst bits of Lower Manhattan, department stores at sales time, a publisher’s party. Philosophically, Jean-Paul Sartre has encouraged the idea that Hell is other people. Theologically, even the Vatican now defines Hell as a state of exile from the love of God. The devils and pitchforks, the brimstone clouds and wailing souls, have been cleared away, rather as a mad aunt might be shut up in the attic.
The article goes on to expand the idea that the joys of heaven are magnified when contrasted with the despair of hell. You cannot have one without the other. Worth a read. I have always viewed hell as a state of non existence. The absence of resurrection or salvation was the fear rather than hell for me with the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a child. In that sense the living would envy the dead on the day of judgment; for the wages of sin is death meant certain resurrection. Though the teaching does change regarding for example Sodom and Gomorrah whether the people were already judged or not. There is no prevaricating on the final day of judgement. Hence the reason trying to convert going door to door.
Regarding most human behaviour Aldous Huxley had it right:
A belief in hell and the knowledge that every ambition is doomed to frustration at the hands of a skeleton have never prevented the majority of human beings from behaving as though death were no more than an unfounded rumor.
He also said “maybe this world is another planet’s hell”.
Well, it is for better or worse the only home we will have.
The photo above comes from Jesus is Saviour. The website uses such photos, animation and scriptures to paint such terror I actually thought it a parody website. The video game “Doom” was more unsettling than this. But no, billions are going to hell. In fact 90% we are reliably told because we go to religion not Jesus. 200,000 people a day “plunge into hell fire”.
It gleefully works out who is going to hell – namely anyone rejecting Jesus as almighty God and the go to guy for salvation.
The you will burn, and you, and you mentality reminds me of when I first realised people had sex. I looked for the tell tell signs of who might be having intercourse as I walked about. Those with prams, the wearing of revealing garments, flirting suggestively. Done it, done it, done it.
Thankfully grew out of such childish behaviour. Seems not everybody does on whose screwed and who is not.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog