“Hell is other people” – Jean-Paul Sartre
Hell is “the dungeon of our own mind” – C.S. Lewis
Our ideas about hell, and about heaven too, are often confused and contradictory. Yet the concepts of heaven and hell continue to loom surprisingly large in the popular imagination, even in our largely secular, post-Christendom culture.
But perhaps more interesting than our ideas of what heaven and hell might look like, or whether they exist at all, let alone who is destined for which, is the question of what our ideas of heaven and hell do for the way we live now. How does the way we understand or imagine heaven and/or hell affect the way we live? The way we treat others? The way we treat ourselves? The way we spend our money and our time?
We are bidden in this advent season to reflect on the ‘four last things’ – death, judgement, heaven and hell. But I think we should do so not with a morbid fascination for what lies ahead, but with careful attention to how our reflections shape our lives in the here-and-now.
#adventbookclub runs from 1st December until Epiphany. This year we are using “The Art of Advent” by Jane Williams, and raising some money for Mercy UK, a mental health charity over at the JustGiving page here. Search #adventbookclub on Twitter or Facebook to join in the conversation.