Special Sub-Topic: Oh, Hell!
|A November 2008 on-line Harris poll revealed that what percent of Americans believe in the existence of hell?|
62%. This compares to 80% of adult Americans who believe in God, unchanged since the same survey was done in 2005. Some 73% believe in heaven, 47% in Darwin's theory of evolution, 44% believe in ghosts, and 36% believe in UFOs.
|Who wrote "Hell is empty and all the devils are here"?|
William Shakespeare. Written as a comedy in about 1611, Shakespeare's "The Tempest" is the story of the banished sorcerer Prospero, rightful Duke of Milan, who uses his magical powers to manipulate his enemies when he raises a storm or tempest that drives them ashore. The entire play takes place on an island. In Act 1 Scene 2, Prospero is talking with his spirit aide Ariel about the tempest she has whipped up, and she tells about how the passengers jumped ship:
"All but mariners
Plunged in the foaming brine and quit the vessel,
Then all afire with me: the king's son, Ferdinand,
With hair up-staring,--then like reeds, not hair,--
Was the first man that leap'd; cried, 'Hell is empty
And all the devils are here.'"
|The Hindu pantheon of gods numbers in the hundreds and some say in the thousands. How many hells are there in Hinduism?|
Over 100. The oldest religious Hindu texts contain no reference to the concept of hell. However, the medieval era "Garunda Purana" (one of the Vishnu Puranas) does describe the torments of hell. In this case, hell is an intermediate state between birth and rebirth. The "Padra Purana" (c.1000-1400CE) lists seven hells with six divisions each, for a total of 42, with each divided into two sections (for deliberate vs. non-deliberate sins) making a total of 84 hells. The "Agni Purana" (c.1200-1500CE) mentions 5 major divisions of hell, 28 subdivisions, and 140 other distinct hells.
|What is the Jehovah's Witnesses concept of hell?|
A state of non-existence. According to Jehovah's Witnesses, hell is the common grave that everyone goes to. The dead are in a state of non-existence with no awareness, feelings, or thoughts. However, when it is time for Judgement Day, those who are in God's memory will be resurrected to heaven/paradise. Wilfully unrepentant sinners will be cast into the eternal lake of fire, which Jehovah's Witnesses regard to be a symbolic description of complete destruction or annihilation.
|Which of the following existential works is set in hell?|
"No Exit" by Jean-Paul Sartre. The three characters in "No Exit" realize by the end of the play that they are in hell and are doomed to be each other's tormentors. The man is attracted to the lesbian woman who is attracted to the other woman, who is attracted to the man. They conclude "Hell is other people."
"Waiting for Godot" is set on a country road near a tree. (I have heard it said that watching this play is like being in hell, but that is purely anecdotal.) "The Plague" is set in a city, and "The Metamorphosis" opens in a bedroom. Each of the stories certainly has aspects that could be called hellacious.
|In the Bible, all of the following words are variously translated or connoted as "hell" except one. Which word is the odd one out?|
Gomorrah. Sheol is the Hebrew term for grave or pit. Gehenna (or gehenom) actually refers to a valley in Jerusalem which was historically used as a garbage dump and where dead animals were disposed. It is used as a synonym for the grave or the pit. Hades is the Greek word for hell, or the undesirable afterlife.
Gomorrah is one of the places God destroyed with fire and brimstone along with Sodom, due to the wickedness of its inhabitants (Genesis 19).
|According to the Islamic religion, who goes to hell?|
Evildoers and worshippers of idols or gods besides Allah. For the person who lived an evil life, practiced the worship of idols or gods other than Allah, and those who did not obey the laws of Allah, the Angel of Death pulls their souls out violently and says "Come out to the wrath of Allah." These are the ones who Muslims believe are destined to be the people of the Hellfire, where they will burn in a violent fire for eternity.
|What is the common belief about hell in Judaism?|
A temporary consequence and therapeutic cleansing. While there is no universal agreement in Judaism, the common view is that the one who goes to hell (or gehenom) re-lives his or her life, both in terms of what it was and in what it could have been. The soul judges itself, and this self-realization provides the cleansing that allows the person's soul to go on to heaven. Even the most wicked of souls experiences twelve months of gehenom at most, and then has an eternity in heaven.
|This ditty reflects what belief/practice that the Protestant Reformation sought to end?
"As soon as a coin in the coffer rings
the soul from Purgatory springs."|
Sale of indulgences. The concept of indulgences and their sale formed within 100 years of the development of the concept of Purgatory in the 1200's. Purgatory is that temporary way-station where sinners do penance for the outstanding balance of their sins at death. In Roman Catholic theology, the idea was that forgiveness of sin requires an outward demonstration called penance, rather than just an internal condition of relationship with God. Priests can hand out penance in the form of good deeds or prayers to be done as restitution for confessed sins. The Church reasoned that there were some (i.e. Jesus Christ and the saints) who had racked up far more good deeds than sins, and thus a Treasury of Merits came into being which the Pope could access. So, you could purchase a "credit" for someone else's good deeds as penance for your own sins, either here on earth or for someone in Purgatory. This quickly became a big money maker for the Roman Catholic Church, when they took into account all those good deeds being done by priests, monks, nuns and other religious persons. In fact, since they were far more adept at performing good deeds, it seemed only reasonable that a person "should" buy an indulgence to further the good works of the Church, rather than perform his or her own meager efforts at penance.
John Tetzel, a German Dominican preacher, is forever linked to the practice of selling indulgences. In 1517, Pope Leo X made him commissioner of indulgences for all of Germany. He set out on a vigorous campaign to raise moneys through the sale of indulgences for the construction of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. He provided great grist for the mill for Luther's "95 Theses" which condemned the sale of indulgences and began the Protestant Reformation in 1517.
|Which book of the Bible has the most references to hell? (King James Version.)|
Matthew. The first book in the New Testament, the gospel of Matthew has 9 references to hell, every one of them coming from the mouth of Jesus Christ. The book of Psalms has 7 hell references, Job has a single reference, and the last book in the New Testament, the Revelation of John has 4. Interestingly, the King James Version of the Bible has a total of 54 references to hell, but in the New International Version, that number dwindles to 14, with "softer" words used instead, such as grave and Hades.
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