The Bible tells us that all evil doers will just die a second death by being thrown into a lake of fire (Revelation 20:13-15). That’s a shame because I don’t feel all sinners are equal. It just doesn’t seem fair that Hitler, who started World II killing 72 million people including exterminating at least six million Jews should be treated the same way as someone like Mohandas Gandhi who resisted tyranny through peaceful civil disobedience and whose sin was being Hindu (more technically, for not being baptized).
I much prefer Dante’s Hell. (Damn. Just for writing that, I’m going to end up with Hitler and Ghandi.) Where things are divided into circles or levels spiral down with increasing pain and nastiness. With punishments so much more inspiring than the just being thrown into a a lake of fire. So let’s start at the top and consider where some of the famous and more notorious among us might end up in Dante’s vision.
Circle 1. Limbo, but with green fields, a castle and filled with philosophers and poets. For the non-baptized and virtuous pagan. Sounds a lot like heaven.
Circle 2. For the lustful and adulterous. Windy and you never get to rest. Guarded by Minos.
Circle 3. For the gluttonous. Freezing rain, black snow and hail. Guarded by the three-headed Cerberus.
Circle 4. For the avaricious and prodigals (the greedy and wasteful). Here, you have to push really big rocks. Guarded by Pluto who makes no sense when he talks (like listening to Fox forever).
Circle 5. The wrathful and sullen are submerged in a dirty swamp-like river here and guarded by Phlegyas.
Circle 6. For heretics who must live in this huge cemetery filled with open tombs with fire coming out of them.
Circle 7. This circle is for the violent and has three three rings. The outer ring is for tyrants and murders who are submerged in a river of boiling blood to a level commensurate with your sin. In the middle ring, those who committed suicide are turned into thorny bushes and leafless trees and are joined by squanderers who are constantly chased by bitches (me thinks, the dog kind). The inner ring is for violence against nature and usurers (bankers, mostly) where they live in a desert of flaming sand and where fiery flakes rain from the sky.
Circle 8. This circle is for those guilty of deliberate, knowing evil and contains ten stone ditches. Ditch 1 is for pimps and seducers are driven to march by demons for all eternity. Ditch 2 is for flatters who are steeped in human excrement. Ditch 3 is for simony (paying for offices or positions) and these guys are stock head-first in a rock while flames burn the soles of their feet. Ditch 4 are for sorcerers and false prophets who have their heads on backwards. Ditch 5 is for corrupt politicians who are immersed in a lake of boiling pitch. Ditch 6 is for hypocrites who have to wear lead cloaks and keep asking other hypocrites for directions. Ditch 7 is for thieves who eternally are chased by snakes and lizards and when bitten, mutate and undergo various nasty transformations. Ditch 8 are for fraudulent advisors who are encased in individual flames. Ditch 9 is for sowers of discord and disseminators of scandal who are hacked over and over again by sword-wielding demons. Ditch 10 is liars, counterfeiters, perjurers and impersonators who afflicted by different diseases.
Circle 9. This level is special. It is for those who betray someone with whom they a special relationship with (ex: a priest to a parishioner; a politician to a voter; a soldier to an enemy; etc.). They are encased in ice to different depths dependent upon the gravity of their sin. Some only up necks so their tears will freeze their eyes shut. Some possessed by demon. Some completely encase in distorted and painful positions. In their center is Satan who is waste deep encased in ice so his beating wings create an icy wind that adds to the overall discomfort (hmm, hell has seemed to freeze over).
As I was researching and writing this, I expected that parsing morality (aka: guessing a divine justice) would be difficult. I had planned to list the 911 terrorists and Osama; Sadam and Kim Jong-il; Juvénal Habyarimana and Slabodan Milosevic; W and Cheney; Limbaugh and O’Reilly; Elliot Spitzer and Mark Foley; Tom Delay and Rod Blagojevich; Jack Abramoff and Dick Cunningham; Ted Stevens and Bill Jefferson; the governors who might refuse the stimulus and those bankers who caused the need for it; the lobbyists and Haliburton; the power companies and the oil companies; the pundits and the spinsters; and so on. But it seems that for simple crimes and misdemeanors, Hell’s levels are all to easy to place the sinners. And while we might be disappointed that we can’t mix and match the punishments to fit our ideals of pain, for the terrorists and Osama, they go to Hell’s circle number 7 (murderers and suicide) and 8 (false prophet and sower of discord) respectively. For all the rest, they clearly belong right next to Satan in the lowest level of Hell for they have betrayed their special relationship with the people they were to have served.