I have always been fascinated by depictions of Hell. From Sartre’s No Exit to Dante’s Inferno to Robot Hell in Futurama (where the character Bender must endure ironic punishments, most of which rhyme), to the paintings, murals, morality plays, triptychs, poems and sermons that, for the last two thousand years have misappropriated the power of God for human use. Consider:
God is loving, God is just, God is merciful, but all of my enemies (which conveniently, God considers to be enemies as well) will end up in eternal separation, torment and pain whilst I drink mojitos in the bosom of Abraham.
Hell is constructed for other people; it is where the wicked ones—and we’re not wicked, everyone else is, right?—go so that the God of justice and mercy, as we understand it for ourselves, can still get some divine anger worked out, or whatever. And yes, it raises other questions—is Ghandi in hell? Is Hitler not in Hell?—and instead of trying to formulate a guest list or prison roster, maybe we should look at how God is, what Christ says, and what the Spirit does. Or, you know, make a list for God’s future use based on last night’s election results. (Let’s go with the first one.)
This Sunday, we’ll be continuing asking Hard Questions with this one: What is Hell and Who is There? It’s going to be a doozy, I’m wrestling with it still, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.