Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?


Hell is everywhere we look. It is integral to religious belief systems, literature, and even popular TV shows. As editor of the new compilation “The Penguin Book of Hell,” Scott Bruce explores 3,000 years of this damnation, from Odysseus traveling to Hades to Climate Change as Hell on Earth. While doing so, he reckons with human’s fixation on Hell that seems to outweigh that of Heaven.

Core authors like Homer, Virgil, Dante and Milton offer us concrete views of Hell, complete with physical torture and situations within the realm of perception. Conceptions of Heaven are often more abstract, as Dante states that it is literally indescribable to man. But wouldn’t it be nice to imagine Heaven in the same way? If we must see the gluttonous with snakes writhing in their stomachs in Inferno, can we also envision a heaven where dogs stay puppies forever? The air smells like bacon or books or lavender? The T is never crowded or late?

A Heaven that includes functional public transportation seems much more divine than any indescribable Dantean verse.

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