Thursday, October 30, 2008

The bible vs. the traditional conception of hell

With respect to the interpretation of the bible, the term "literal" is often used more or less interchangeably with "traditional". (Or, sometimes, maybe "extreme", or something like that--the "literal" account of the "end times", for example, is (a) not in the bible and (b) a very recent invention.) So people talk about a "literal hell", by which they seem to suggest that they're talking about a doctrine of hell which is right there in the bible, in black and white, and anyone who doesn't think it's in there must be reading the text in some terribly loose and metaphorical way.

But, as it turns out, it's awful hard to find traditional notions about hell in the bible. In fact, I'd say that the more literally you interpret it, the harder it is to support the traditional conception of hell.

A nice friendly run-through is provided by RLP in a new series of videos (plus a nifty .pdf). I agree with the vast majority of what he says.

The traditional doctrine of hell is a problem. It strikes a good many people as morally repulsive. It has caused Christians to leave the faith. But it's not to be found in the bible.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I gotta say, I'm not a fan.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Title of "Featured Video" on Yahoo Canada

"Family of man beheaded on bus calls for tougher laws"

I concur. Increase the sentence for stabbing a stranger dozens of times, hacking off his head, slicing off bits of his face and putting them into your pocket in a plastic bag, and then eating other bits of him! Because we really need a stronger deterrent against that sort of thing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Faint praise

Over the weekend we went to Boystown, probably our favourite neighbourhood to visit in Chicago. We mostly go for the second-hand clothes, and the vegetarian food (the Chicago Diner does very convincing fake meat), but the flaming gayness is also pretty cool.

When I informed an acquaintance of ours about this, he praised us for being "open-minded".

I had a hard time figuring out what he could have meant by that. If you're a graduate student in the humanities, it doesn't seem like you should get any credit at all for being happy visiting the city's gaybourhood (ha!). In general, you can pretty much take that for granted in our little sub-culture. But Dawn came up with what has got to be the right explanation: if you're a graduate student in the humanities and also Christian, you might be expected to fear the gay. And if you don't, then maybe that qualifies you as "open-minded".

That was a weird thought to get used to.