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Damn It All: The Penguin Book of Hell (nybooks.com)
56 points by apollinaire 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments



>"Demons - here called the “angels of Tartarus” - carry out special tortures designed for particular types of sinners."

I thought the name Tartarus seemed familiar, so I looked up Wikipedia, and it describes Tartarus as "the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked".

Tartarus was also the name of the student email server at my university when I was studying computer science.


It's originally Greek, I believe. (My OED is being unhelpful.) A name for the underworld; no punishments, but an eternity of playing Yahtzee with your great aunt in the grey mist.


> A name for the underworld; no punishments, but an eternity of playing Yahtzee with your great aunt in the grey mist.

I believe that's wrong. Hades was the greek name for the underworld, Tararus was the place within it for the punishment of the wicked, Asphodel Meadows was the indifferent place for indifferent people, and Elysium was the rewarding place for the especially glorious and distinguished.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_underworld#Geography


Tartarus was also the place where the Titans (The Elder Gods of Greek mythology) were cast when Zeus and his siblings ascended to Mount Olympus (Zeus's father Chronos(Saturn) included).


Fascinating expose of a manifestation of humanity’s desire for justice.

I’m reminded that I find it odd that Moloch is still referenced by the American elite in passing: U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2016-07895 Doc No. C06131616


Moloch is also the thematic devil in my favorite essay on Slate Star Codex, which is kind of a modern theodicy replacing the question of "Why does an omnipotent God allow bad things to happen?" with "Why do we, as thinking, feeling beings allow bad systems to persist?"

Joseph Vogl asked this same question about why "efficient" markets allow inefficient ouctomes in his book Oikodicy.

http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/

https://stanfordpress.typepad.com/blog/2015/08/the-end-of-an...


For a SF take on hell, see "Surface Detail" by Ian M Banks. This takes place in his Culture [0] universe, and details how various societies maintain virtual hells, some specifically to punish (now dead) citizens who previously uploaded their personalities into their society's virtual spaces.

[spoiler]

One of the characters in the book is an alien female who has hacked into her society's hell to expose its horrors to doubters in 'the Real'. She becomes trapped and (long story short) becomes an angel of death whose special gift / eternal punishment is to be able to release from hell one trapped soul per day. Unfortunately, every time she does this, she takes some of their pain upon herself.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Culture_(series)


Some similar is hinted at in Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep, also the ending of A Colder War by Charlie Stross.


Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God's infinite love.


What choice does God have, He doesn't make the rules.


Hell really doth have fury like God scorned?


> Voltaire: “My good friend, I no more believe in the eternity of hell than yourself; but recollect that it may be no bad thing, perhaps, for your servant, your tailor, and your lawyer to believe in it.”

I'm not sure why humans have to dream up a Hell or Heaven after death. It appears to be obstinate refusal of observing what's right in front of them.. On what we call earth. You can either observe someone in Hell or Heaven and it's not like anyone has any real control over the matter. My whole life was pointed in one direction and there has never been any choice for me. /determinist

I think it's a bad thing to believe in afterlife and when what's in front of you is all that should be considered. Reason being, maybe it prolongs people having to be in Hell and not just Heaven.


>I'm not sure why humans have to dream up a Hell or Heaven after death.

Weird way to exclude yourself, but ok.

The article to me explained that the idea of heaven and hell is a manifestation of justice. That even if YOU can’t do anything to them, bad people will eventually suffer and good people will eventually be rewarded. Nicer to believe than the alternative. Did you read the article?


Is it nicer than the alternative? Many people are perfectly ok with death being the end. Many people don't need some affirmation of themselves or others to believe in.

Also, wishing for the unending torture for someone who's slighted you is a very non-christian, non-most-religeons way of thinking.


>Also, wishing for the unending torture for someone who's slighted you is a very non-christian, non-most-religeons way of thinking.

You know it’s pretty much a key tenant of Christianity to pray for the souls of those that have harmed you or others right?


Is it necessary to observe the tenets of Christianity to call oneself a Christian? Anecdotally, I find little evidence for it. People mostly use their religion to validate their pre-existing lifestyles, not to redesign them.

Imagining a torment for someone who has wronged you is a rather effective method of ablating away the desire to enact revenge physically. It also leaves more room for ironic and humorous punishments.

"Dear theological construct, please take mercy on this guy who cut me off in traffic after driving on the hard shoulder to pass a bunch of stopped cars, and do not send him to a punishment in Hell wherein other cars are freely zooming around on the highway, while his is perpetually boxed in by semis and garbage trucks. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Amen."


My understanding is that that's only Catholics and, only for those in purgatory. However, it's never been clear to my why the petitions help the person.


> My understanding is that that's only Catholics

No, it mostly just some subset of Protestants that reject it (the practice is common, as well as in Roman Catholicism and some Protestant communities, in the Eastern and Oriental [despite etymological similarity, these are not synonyms] Orthodox Churches, and, apparently, the Assyrian Church of the East.)

> and, only for those in purgatory.

It's true that in the Catholic tradition, there is a special connection between prayers for the dead and purgatory (arguably, purgatory as a doctrine is a Catholic explanation for the ancient Christian practice of prayers for the dead.)


It's too bad that he didn't cover Hinduism.


Perhaps tangential, but Jehovah’s Witnesses consider themselves Christain (the article refers to ‘modern Christains’ collectively as believing in hell, but I’m not sure that’s actually accurate; perhaps they meant Catholics? Do born-again or LTS believe in hell?) but don’t believe in hell because as the article also states, it isn’t mentioned in either the Hebrew or Greek scriptures.

The origin of hell is probably pagan.


As a Christian, I accept that God is impossibly complex. The Bible uses a lot of memes that were well known at the time to describe God. We run into trouble when people start to look at those memes as if they were meant literally.


Why do you believe they weren't meant literally?


> Perhaps tangential, but Jehovah’s Witnesses consider themselves Christain

“Christian”; on the other hand, mainstream Christians don't consider Jehovah's Witnesses or LDS to be Christians, because (long before either of those existed), mainstream Christianity settled on a common boundary around the Nicene (or Nicene-Constantinopolitan, as the Orthodox refer to it) Creed. Even across the two Great Schisms, this has held across the main communities.

> but don’t believe in hell because as the article also states, it isn’t mentioned in either the Hebrew or Greek scriptures.

“Hell” is a name applied to a doctrine that those holding to it hold as an interpretation of several passages in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, primarily references to Gehenna and tartarō.


The origins of Christianity include a large dose of paganism, if that means not directly derived from Abrahamic doctrine.


Next time I'm in a hotel, it will be tempting to replace that book in the bedside table by this one.




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