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What is hell

When you say what the hell, what do you mean?  It is a slang which means disagreement, frustration, or couldn’t care less.  Hell is used in everyday life casually.  But it actually has a religious meaning.  Hell is the most scary tactic used in punishing those who do not believe or who have sinned.  However, the Bible does not have a description of hell.  It is all fabricated by the church.  All you hear or read about are lies.  BBC did a research on the hell narrative and laid down ten facts about hell.  It is very educational and tells a lot about the twisted thoughts of religion.

1. Hell is conical
hell_infernoA described by Dante in his Inferno, hell consists of nine concentric circles, going down smaller as getting deeper down the Earth.   Each circle is for a particular sin like gluttons, heretics and fraudsters, with the first circle being limbo, a place for unbaptized babies and sinless non-Christians.  Just outside hell, but still part of the punishing scheme, there are people who somehow never did anything good or evil in their lifetime.  They are punished for their neutrality, and they run round the outer circle for eternity being stung by wasps.

2. Hell is diverse
The modern image of hell is a place with flames and pitchforks for everyone.  Milton in Paradise Lost describes hell as one great furnace, with flames but no light.  However, in medieval time, punishments in hell are as varied as sin itself, each one shaped to fit the sin punished.  They are more terrifying than those in Tiger Palm Garden.

3. Hell is underground – maybe
In the Middle Ages, people generally thought of Hell as being underground.  Milton’s Hell, however, is far from Earth.  He thought the Earth was perfect, so hell should not be in the centre of it.

4. Hell can freeze over
Although hell is described as a place of fire, there are cold places in it.  In Dante’s hell, its second circle has the lustful blown about by strong winds, while the gluttons in the third are subjected to sleet and sludge. In the ninth and deepest circle of hell, Satan himself is encased in ice to his waist.  Even for Milton’s hell, beyond the fire plains there are regions of ice, hail, snow and wind.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="222"]biagio-de-cesena-i0 Biagio de Cesena in the Sistine Chapel fresco[/caption]

5. Hell is for other real people
Hell is full of popes.  Dante finds many popes in hell, including Anastasius II for heresy and Nicholas III for buying episcopal office. The Catholic scholar Erasmus wrote about Pope Julius II being turned away from the heaven’s gate for his many sins.  Michelangelo’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel shows real people being pulled down to Hell, including Biagio de Cesena, the Pope’s Master of Ceremonies.  Dante’s Inferno includes many people he knew personally, and not just enemies.

6. Hell is unreal creatures
Hell is full of creatures from pagan myths.  Dante sees centaurs and the Minotaur, and the three-headed dog Cerberus. Michelangelo includes characters of the Greek underworld. Even Milton puts Medusa and Hydras there.  So the Christian Church does accept the pagan myths as real, only they are evil.

7. Hell is pandemonium
Pandemonium is a word used by Milton for the capital city of hell.  It means all the demons, and is a place where Satan and his followers meet for their infernal parliament.   Besides a place of punishment, it is a happy gathering place for all the demons.  So, for a really bad person, we could say he turned devil.  He goes to hell, not to be punished but to have a good time.

8. Hell is gated
Hell is heavily gated and so cannot be entered easily.  Dante’s hell gate was created by the highest wisdom and the primal Love.  In Paradise Lost there are nine gates, three of brass, three of iron, and three of rock, and they are heavily guarded.

9. Hell isn’t all that interested in sex
Christianity may have a bad name for obsession with people’s sex lives, but sex doesn’t feature very prominently in the behaviour punished in Hell. Sins of lust are dealt with in the second circle making it the least of sins.

10. Hell isn’t all that Biblical
Very few of these ideas are from the Bible. The Bible does refer to Hell and its fires, but more of the details in Dante are drawn from Greek and Roman myths, and the vast majority are the creation of medieval Western imagination.  The doctrine of perpetual torment was a late development and was propounded by the Lateran Council of 1215, just a century before Dante wrote.  This council is the 12th ecumenical council, a series of papal council of cardinals leading to the last one the Vatican II in 1965.  The councils produced many doctrines to “supplement” the Bible.  In modern times, Christians have become increasingly sceptical about Hell. There are 622 verses in the Bible which mention Heaven, and only 15 that mention Hell.