Friday 15 December 2006

What is hell?

“Hell is the name of that false history against which the true story, in Christ, is told, and it is exposed as the true destination of all our violence, by the light of the resurrection, even as Christ breaks open the gates of hell and death. Hell is with us at all times, a phantom kingdom perpetuating itself in the wastes of sinful hearts, but only becomes visible to us as hell because the true kingdom has shed its light upon history….

“Hell is the perfect concretization of ethical freedom, perfect justice without delight, the soul’s work of legislation for itself, where ethics has achieved its final independence from aesthetics. Absolute subjective liberty is known only in hell…. [H]ell is the purest interiority…. [I]t is a turning in, a fabrication of an inward depth, a shadow, a privation, a loss of the whole outer world, a refusal of the surface….

“[H]ell is no place within creation, no event, though its history is everywhere told, its dominion everywhere suffered.”

—David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), pp. 399-400.


Anonymous said...

A totally awesome book. And dare I say it may be one of the best pieces of theology produced in the last decade if not the last century.

Ben Myers said...

I'm with you there, Ben -- I reckon it's definitely one of the best books of the past decade.

Here's another definition of hell: to go through life without having read David Bentley Hart....

Anonymous said...

My advice would be to run away as fast as you can from anyone who talks about hell---especially with such "righeous" passion as Hart does.
What has "hell" got to do with the Beauty of the Infinite?

And what exactly is "false" his-story?
What about the multiple his and her stories from the entire Great Tradition of Humankind? Are they all false!

These essays are about the Indivisible Conscious Light of Real God.


This essay (plus website) offers a thorough-going critique of the self-divided "mind" which revels in "hell" language.


This essay provides a critique of the destructive "cultural" meme created in the image of the hell obsessed traditionalist.


This essay has the subtitle: Only That which Is Loved Is Beautiful. It is very much about the Beauty of the Infinite as the Always Already present context of everything that arises---even the seemingly negative appearances.

Anonymous said...

John again. Lets not forget that Hart is closely associated with the ghouls over at First Things and all their associated "right" thinking religionists.
First Things was (and probably still is) a 100% no holds barred supporter of the American invasion of Iraq which as everyone knows (and always did) was based on lies, more lies, and USA imperial arrogance.
Which of course has INEVITABLY turned out to be a "perfect concretization" of the infinitely terrible nightmare on the other side of the coin of Harts hell based double-minded "righteousness".

Stacy said...

I'm with Ben and Ben. John have you read Hart? Your rhetorical question about hell and the Beauty of the Infinite doesn't add up to me. Ad hominem argument it seems.

crystal said...
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Anonymous said...

In Marilynne Robinson's Gilead (2004) (which Stanley Hauerwas called "the first Barthian novel ever written" - though John Updike fans might object!), the narrator, the Reverend John Ames, an elderly Presbyterian minister in Iowa, reflecting on his life in the form of a letter to his young son, recalls a catechetical group where one lady "got herself into a considerable excitement talking about the flames, that is, perdition." Citing Calvin's Institutes, Ames replies: "If you want to inform yourselves as to the nature of hell, don't hold your hand in a candle flame, just ponder the meanest, most desolate place in your soul."

Anonymous said...

Stacy, I have read The Beauty of the Infinite.
It has some wonderful things to say--no doubt.
But it is essentialy TOTALITARIAN in its nature because it (wrongly) asserts that anything other than "jesus" is false.
In other words the entire Great Tradition of Humankind is inherently and irreducibly wrong.
Indeed there was recently a lead essay in First Things which stated EXACTLY that. And that the spirit of Ecumenism was/is entirely wrong headed. And even more, that the "catholic" church is the only place where the "truth" can be found. Protestants are also deluded and have yet to see the error of their ways and submit to Rome.
In effect this is a declaration of war against the 5 billion human beings who are not christian---really!

And it is the shadows lurking in his politics which tell me where Hart is really at.
The proof in the pudding--so to speak-- is the politics that any and every author promotes, and the company that they keep. No exception---none.

And speaking of false his-stories. Hart & his friends at First Things subscribe to the 3 false his-stories at the root of the USA imperial project.
Namely the entirely HUBRISTIC doctrines of Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism. And the related myth of American innocence and good intentions. Bringing "freedom" and "god" to the rest of the world.

Ben Myers said...

Hi John. Well, since Hart is not a Catholic, it would be very strange indeed if he supported the idea that all truth is found in the Catholic Church!

Stacy said...

John, perhaps you would like the book, "Christ the Eternal Tao" by Heiromonk Damascene (sp?). In that you might find a very different understanding.

And Ben is correct. Hart is not Catholic. Furthermore, I still think it's dangerous to propose ad hominem arguments. They tend to be a bit polemic while all together missing the point.

Anonymous said...

Hart may not be a catholic but he both explicitly and implicitly endorses the First Things world view and their benighted politics.
"Guilt" by association as it were.

Stacy you accuse me of "ad hominen" arguments. How much elaboration can one possibly make via a brief comment on a blog?

Meanwhile this essay

says everything that needs to be said about "Christ the Eternal Tao"---Christ being in effect, another name for the Always Already Conscious Light in which all of this is arising.
Or put in another way: Real God Is The Indivisible Oneness of Unbroken Light.

Stacy if you care to contact me on my email I can point you to all the "evidence" that I "know" of which is based on the writings and talks of the author of the above reference.

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