Sir: In your leading article "The church's empty hell" (11 January), you refer to the erroneous impression of Hell as "a place of endless torment". If Heaven is a place of ultimate being for and with others, could Hell be, as T. S. Eliot said, the place of only self - hence of ultimate torment through total emptiness?
In similar style, could it be that the next world, whether up or down, will not be so very different from this one? If, as is sometimes suggested, Heaven is peaches and cream, there will be scant scope for such basic attributes as compassion, empathy and related forms of fellow feeling. Equally to the point, if one cannot make oneself happy in the here and now, what true hope for the next time around? And if one becomes adept at making oneself miserable through self-preoccupation here, might that also prove fine training for the next world?
After all, if we pray "Thy kingdom come on Earth" and recall that "The kingdom of Heaven is within you", then could there be similar potential for the kingdom of Hell? To this extent, it should not really matter to us here whether there is another life ahead: a life lived to the full, and in the one way that some believe makes that feasible, is surely its own reward.
Honorary Visiting Fellow
12 JanuaryReuse content