Covering part of the segment on hell for my Eschatology elective. I say part of because the largest segment in this is on hell. Seems misplaced. I really picked some hardcores to take an RCIA course from. They would view Vatican I as a conclave of fornicating homosexuals! I am not of a liberal mind here where my God has to be my buddy and has to follow my marshmellowy concept of justice, but this stuff is overkill.
I am forced, in this section to read an eighteen page diatribe on the tortures of hell. A concrete, literalistic interpretation of all references to hell. The fires of hell are literal fires that you burn in constantly forever and are super-duper intense – beyond any fire we’ve experienced or can possibly imagine. The thirst is a literal thirst but beyond thirst that a mortal man can imagine, same with hunger. On top of this, in an earlier reading on the CCC we learn that the chief punishment, of suffering, of hell is eternal separation of God. And then there are the vile odors, plagues of demons, the company of suffering tormented sinners as yourself and many more things besides this.
Seems a lot to focus on, doesn’t it? Now, I’m not the queazy, modern type, I understand the logic of hell. But such a description as this priest tries to paint ends up falling under its own weight. Most of the torments of hell described here are physical torments. Would not the torment of eternal separation from God require not being so eternally distracted with all this burning and starving and thirst? Seems I am to be kept quite distracted from ever thinking about the lack of beatific vision.
It reminds me of the second Matrix movie. The climax of the first movie was an awesome fight between Neo and Agent Smith. So, for the second movie, they thought “what could be more awesome?” so they had Neo fight a hundred of them in a CGI fest that was 1/100th the tension of the one on one of the first film.
I think a real vision of hell would be a lot quieter, darker, drab, and acute in its lack of feeling, not in its intensity.