This was going to be a rant against the Catholic concept of hell but I got curious about hell in general and I wanted to spice up this post with some cool hell-themed quotes. Goodreads.com has 1,092 hell quotes. Shit. So I’m gonna just list 10, give my priceless take on them and then get on with bashing (for not the first or last time) my first and almost certainly last religion I will ever be affiliated with.
Hell is-other people! – Jean-Paul Sartre
(I have nothing to add to this statement)
The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality. – Dante Alighieri
(Not really a description of hell as a whole but I like to fantasize that this is true)
We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell. – Oscar Wilde
(Could not agree more. They say the mind is a terrible thing to waste but it is also just a terrible thing.)
To terrify children with the image of hell, to consider women an inferior creation—is that good for the world? – Christopher Hitchens
(To answer your rhetorical question: No.)
Among the litany of atrocities the Catholic Church has wrought upon humanity, one of the worst might be the creation of the concept of hell – that’s ETERNAL suffering for those of you lucky not to be raised in the faith – to enforce a bloodthirsty and vengeful and jealous and horrific god’s “moral” commandments. I can safely speak for myself and many of my friends when I say this concept and this church have done irreparable harm to us. Aside from the very real physical horrors visited upon humanity (overpopulation, the spread of disease due to the prohibition of condoms, many wars, famine, global child rape, just to name a few), the mental damage inflicted on people by this perverse logic and its bizarre acolytes is incalculable. I’m not gonna cover the crime of sexism in this post but I feel roughly the same way.
All Hope abandon, ye who enter here. – Dante Alighieri (Another quote from the Italian mastermind. But this one speaks directly to my chief criticism of the nature of fell: its absolute rejection of what is allegedly a foundational Christian principle: forgiveness)
Heaven and hell seem out of proportion to me: the actions of men do not deserve so much. – Jorge Luis Borges (It is funny, to me anyway, that us insignificant mortals get treated to one of two everlasting consequences based solely on our actions during our cosmically insignificant life spans. Does god really think we’re that special? Or is he just the world’s first and most evil micromanager?)
Animals never worry about heaven or hell. Neither do I. Maybe that’s why we get along. – Charles Bukowski (Bukowski is kinda this literary figure that’s this legendary badass and it’s really cool to have read his stuff and be into him. He’s not a febrile tortured whiny poet. He’s a man’s man and he makes manly poetry. That’s the mythology anyway. No idea if it’s true. I’ve never read him. But if he felt this way about animals then he absolutely deserves my attention.)
So have a little fun, soon enough you’ll be dead and burning in Hell with the rest of your family. – George Carlin. (Holy fucking Christ. The notion that I could be stuck in eternity with certain members of my family is enough to get me to join a monastery. Well, almost. I couldn’t really give up internet access and fast food.)
The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell. – Bertrand Russell (Pretty much on point here. Leave it to humanity to fuck itself over much more than any external force ever could).
You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway. – Ricky Gervais (Now this is something you could base a moral and good religion on.)
Ok. So now it’s that time again when I say FUCK CATHOLICISM (part 2 in an ongoing series). I’ll let Catholic.com define hell (in a nutsHELL if you will – hahaha – I amuse myself):
“ The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death, the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs” (CCC 1035).
In his 1994 book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul II wrote that too often “preachers, catechists, teachers . . . no longer have the courage to preach the threat of hell” (p. 183).”
So for my criticism, the salient points are that if you die in a state of mortal sin
HOLD UP A SECOND:
WTF is a mortal sin? There’s no official list from what I could find. But it’s shit like murder or blasphemy or rape or serious shit. So essentially if you commit a mortal sin AND have not repented and been absolved in the sacrament of confession yet. Confession is the all-purpose do-over for Catholics. You do have to actually be remorseful for the absolution to count but if you are, you can do stuff like protect child rapists and enable them to rape other children by moving them around to different parishes. It’s all good if you’re really, really sorry.)
OK BACK TO MY MAIN THREAD: so hell is eternal and extreme torture. There is some disagreement among catholic sources as to what actually will get you into hell. But let’s go with an extreme example. Let’s say this dude shot up his former employer’s office and killed a lot of people and was sent to the chair and never said he was sorry and never repented internally in his heart or mind or anything. So we basically have an unrepentant mass murderer.
Now if you were to survey the justice systems of every nation on earth, you would find multiple punishments for this crime. Some places would immediately or almost immediately execute the mass murderer. Some would give him a life sentence with no chance of parole. Some same life sentence but a chance of parole. Some a long prison sentence but definitely not life. Some would put him in a psychiatric facility (but in my example I want my guy to know the difference between right and wrong because I don’t think the clinically insane get sent to hell though it is Catholicism so there’s no telling if it has any kind of mercy.
So the range of human punishments for this horrible act goes from immediate execution to 20 or so years in jail. Now prison conditions vary greatly from country to country but we can all assume that being incarcerated is terrible. But there must also be a spectrum of terrible. But even in the most horrible prison system, torture all day for every second of their existence (which is what hell is supposed to be) goes beyond the pale. Even Kim Jong Un wouldn’t do that. He just likes to blow up his offenders with artillery guns anyway.
So humanity, a most repugnant species, doesn’t doll out eternal punishment (though if it could I’m sure it would).
But god only gives eternal hell to the unredeemable! Right, that old chestnut. So it’s the human choosing to suffer forever. God’s not at fault at all! And hold up – isn’t god omnipotent? Wouldn’t an omnipotent being be able to redeem anyone?
So if god is omnipotent, and Catholicism certainly pegs it as such, why does god even want something like hell to exist? Isn’t god supposed to be an enlightened being? Isn’t god supposed to be love? Isn’t it divine to forgive?
It seems to me that any being that would choose to put any soul, no matter how unrepentant that soul might be, is anathema to the very nature of love and forgiveness.
And it ain’t just Old Testament god. God’s kid Jesus also specifically mentioned hell. And he was the chill part of the trinity.
Jesus seeming cool most of the time but also specifically mentioning Hell reminds me of pope francis. Everyone seems to think he’s the coolest pope we’ve ever had. And sadly they might be right. But he just presided over a funeral mass of a cardinal who covered up pedophile rapist priests and moved them all over the place which only let them spread their vile terror farther and farther.
So Jesus says hell is legit and pope francis blesses a guy who protected AND enabled child rapists.
I can kinda see now why so many angry Christians want there to be a hell.
I would never consider heeding a god that was so bereft of kindness.