Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Fourth Circle of Hell

Even though I don’t really believe in hell, I’m fairly certain that if it exists, one level must consist of The Damned looking for the broken bulb in a tangled mass of nonfunctioning Christmas lights, going through them one by painstaking one, even after buying the kind that are supposed to still work when one of the bulbs is broken.

The broken light strings never do actually work, of course, no matter how many times they are tested. But the hope would always be there. It is the hope that really crushes the spirit.

For good measure, Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas songs are playing in a loop in the background, and the light bulb testing is done while standing in line at the mall with tired and hungry children, begging for candy. The candy is, of course, placed in its usual evil location: eye-level with people the size of children, right in front of the checkout counter.

Why, you ask? Why would such a cruel fate befall such lost souls?

Because it would be just like Satan to use Christmas trappings as eternal torment.

And, after a short search, I've found the level: It is the Fourth Circle of Hell, envisioned by Dante as reserved for The Gluttonous ,who must push great weights against each other until they crash together, and then start over again. I can't think of a more perfect place for all the bad parts of Christmas.


Robert Sievers said...

Funny that you say you don't believe in hell, yet say you do believe in Jesus' teachings. Jesus taught a lot about hell. How do you reconcile these two inconsistent statements?

Dan S said...

Well, I wouldn't say that I believe everything that was ascribed to Jesus, but that I generally try to follow his teachings, and mostly fail at it. Which is probably true of everyone, whether they are willing ot admit it or not.

Nonetheless, I assume you are referring to "And if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body go into hell."

I suppose if you take this literally, you have to believe that in heaven, some people will have their human bodies, but be missing parts of them? Also, it says that the way to be saved is to pluck out individual body parts, which is quite different from the standard line of accepting Jesus as Savior.

In any case, no, I don't believe this is literally true, but I do accept the wisdom of removing the parts of your life that are causing you to sin. I suppose I could have said "giving you hell" instead of "causing you to sin", but I wouldn't want anyone to think my use of the the word 'hell' implies that I think it is a physical place where nonbelievers go for all eternity :)

Robert Sievers said...


First, you say you only follow some of Jesus' teachings. How convenient. Then you suggest its ok because everyone else does it. How deflecting. Then you quote scripture out of context to prove your point. How disingenous.

No wonder you like your version of Christianity. If you don't like something in it, just toss it out.

Dan S said...

What I said is that I generally try to follow Jesus' teachings, but mostly fail at it, like everyone else. I don't believe that you think you perfectly follow Jesus either, so I'm not sure why my honesty bothers you so much.

For instance, Jesus clearly says we should not save up for tomorrow, and yet I know of no Christians who think 401K plans are unchristian. Should I accuse you of tossing out Jesus' teaching if you have a savings account? Or, do you interpret that passage in a way that makes it compatible with your personal revelation, like I do? What about his teachings on divorce? On peace making? on oaths?

I think what is different about us is that you believe your interpretation of Jesus is the only valid and true one. I think there are probably many valid ways to follow Jesus. And that when we do the necessary interpreting that is an inherent part of human language and communication, we all "pick and choose" based on what makes sense to us. This doesn't mean anything goes - it just means we all have to be true to what God puts in our own hearts. Claiming you know the only correct one for everybody is more arrogance than it is obedience.

I am curious though how you would interpet the plucking out of one's eye. Do you think it is picking and choosing Jesus' teaching to not cut out your eye if you are lustful all the time?

Robert Sievers said...


When Jesus says it is better to pluck out your eye in order to save your soul, I think it means just that. Nobody would actually "do" it, because there are other less invasive ways of stopping our lust. Those other ways are much more preferable then plucking out our eye.

As for the 401K, that is something I have been wondering about.

It's not that *I* think that *I* have the correct interpretation. I believe Jesus words are to be taken at 100% face value. When He says there is a literal hell, I believe Him.

The difference between you and I is not that we don't both fall short. The difference is that when I do, I look to Jesus to help me get my perspective closer to God's.

Dan S said...

I believe Jesus words are to be taken at 100% face value. When He says there is a literal hell, I believe Him.

Hmmm. What about "Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged"? :)

Bob, you interpret Jesus, just as I do, just as everyone does.

I find it ironic that you interpret Jesus as not being literal when he says "If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out", but then accuse me of not looking to Jesus for perspective because I interpret him non-literally later in the exact same verse.

It is Jesus' overall message that causes me to doubt the existence of hell. It is incompatible with an all-loving and grace-filled God, the very one of which Jesus speaks.

Question my interpretation all you want, but claiming you know God better is just folly.

Anonymous said...

You win, Dan!! Dan The Unassuming, Unyielding, Unarrogent(Humble), Noncapitulating, Nonjudgemental, Spiritually Authentic Man! This written debate between you and Robert was a truly delightful read! I'm glad you stuck to your guns. Peolpe who try to point out the defficiencies of others instead of addressing "the timber in (their) own eye" really grinde me! Keke

Robert Sievers said...

How about "Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged"? :)"

What exactly is it you do in every blog messuage you write? You judge people, systems, actions, and events.

I take these words also at 100% face value. Read the whole section. I do not judge (pass sentence on) you, that is God's job. I would never banish you to the literal hell which obvioulsy exists by Jesus' teaching. However, I will point out what He says in the hopes that when He does judge you, it will be more tolerable. I expect the same from you.

Dan S said...

Ah, so we've come full circle. You would not personally banish me to hell, but you believe in a God that would. You are more loving and grace-filled than the God you believe in. That's what I can't accept - that you or I are more loving than God.

What I do believe is that we will both enjoy a good laugh at ourselves in the afterlife together, for how wrong we both got it.