Tuesday, December 26, 2006



It was Origen who, sustaining the concept of human volition into infinity, found the idea of an unending Hell implausible. Thus reincarnation, as first posited by Plato, might be a method of ascending or descending the hierarchy of being, and Origen entertained the notion, although he would not bind himself philosophically to it. Instead, Origen anticipated, all beings would in due course choose to repent. Origen’s stance is proximate to Platonic metempsychosis, with perhaps a dash of Buddhism tossed in for flavoring. In somewhat the same manner, Aristotelian eschatology determined that the Prime Mover’s grace was ‘wide,’ and thus all would receive salvation in the end. This, too, negated the concept of Hell. These theories of universal redemption are denominated apocastastasis. Adherents to the theory included: Ambrose, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazanzus.

That ‘restless heart,’ the former heretical Manichean, the great Bishop of Hippo, Saint Augustine, ‘proved’ the existence of a static Hell. In so doing, the good Bishop stressed the beauty of creation, and by inference, the beauty of the Creator. Saint Augustine’s ‘substantiation’ cited original sin, its effects, and a kind of contrast effect instituted by the Almighty. And though the author subscribes, presently, to a literal Hell, even he must assert that the good Bishop’s evidence lacks cogency.

And just for fun, it is fascinating to note that Origen was excommunicated for his position. And not just once, but on five separate occasions, with a total of fifteen charges of anathema -- in the years of our Lord 543, 553, 680, 787, and 869, Origen was damned to eternal flames.

The beauty of psychopomp remains effulgent throughout history.

The idea of Hell has fascinated and repelled mankind for centuries. And, always on the lookout for an amelioration of Hell’s awful finality, the formal promulgation of the doctrine of Purgatory was issued in the year 1253. Shades of Virgil and Plato! This in spite of the fact that the word purgatorium did not even exist before the 12th century. This falsification reeks of Simon Magus, the seven sons of Sceva (the implement), and the magical formulae set forth in the Ephesia Grammata. Although admittedly, the venerable Bede’s seventh-century Drythelm, an example of ‘vision literature,’ propounds a similar idea.

The idea of Hell is universal. Indeed, the Viking’s called their version of eternal torment Niflheim, whose location was even cited as being in the far north, beneath the roots of Yggdrasil, the ‘Tree of the World.’ The Viking’s even went so far as to cite a counterpart to the Christian Great Gulf Fixed; theirs was called ‘the great void Ginnungagap,’ ‘Muspell.’ The Viking heaven was, of course, Valhalla. Entrance into Niflheim was across the Gjallarbru, ‘the Echoing Bridge.’ Moreover, as recently as the 1970’s, the rock group Robin Trower released their record entitled ‘Bridge of Sighs.’

The Viking Hell lives on -- even if only in rock music.

And most interestingly, the Christian Armageddon is rivaled in the Norse equivalent -- Ragnarok, the final battle of the gods and giants.

Hindu, Buddhist, and Zoroastrian hells exist, too. However, in each instance cycles of incarnation can result in advancement. And the Roman Catholic concept of Purgatory found its likeness, according to some, in the Hebrew Abraham’s Bosom. This pectoral intermediate state was, supposedly, a state of limbo. Others though, equated it with refrigerium, ‘the place of refreshment.’ And heresies of all heresies, the Virgin Mary was named the ‘Queen of Purgatory.’

In all these instances, Purgatory, or its like, was the place where behavior modification took place. Whereupon Paradise, or its like, might be achieved. Even Joseph Campbell, the great high-priest of modern mythology, has cited that each one must thus enter “the belly of the beast” before achieving apotheosis.

Satan’s wonderfully original statement, “ye shall be as gods,” lives on. Mankind still believes that he/she, by sustained effort, by constant trying, might achieve his/her own liberation.

The beauty of Hell is this: in the idea, and all its permutations, mankind senses a tragic finality. And thus, all of mankind strives incessantly be better, and more beautiful, assuming that then, he might be acceptable to God. Beauty, as a consequence, in one form or another, even if only spiritual, becomes the goal of all.

Labels: , ,


Blogger spoooooky said...

wow you seem to have an in depth unnderstanding of hell Lex, maybe they should ask you to write the guidebook, now there's an idea Lonely Planet guide to hell - getting there and getting around - we could make millions (all the best for the new year by the way)

7:09 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home