“(Almost) Everything I Know About Hell I Learned From Buffy

“Almost everything I know about hell’s eschatological aspects I learned from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer — sort of an interactive Divine Comedy. Valley-girl Buffy Summers and her Virgil (embodied by tweedy professor Rupert Giles) battle soulless creatures that slither out of the ‘hell mouth’ (conveniently located under the high school), returning the creatures to blazing torment forever.

“I would feel bad about this pop theological education, except I’m not alone.

“For 700 years, Dante’s epic poem — mainly the Inferno — has been the source of inspiration for preachers, pastors, and not a few theologians, who promoted hell as a physical place with its own address, zip code, and smoking embers. Add to their oratorical brimstone the fiery images from artists — Gustave Doré, Hieronymous Bosch, or Buffy producer Joss Whedon — and you’ve got a potent pedagogy.”   –Rose Marie Berger, Sojourners, 2015

Read the full article here.

9 Circles of Hell Hot Sauces and Spice Blends

nine-circles-of-hell-hot-sauce-and-spice-blend-2020

“Perhaps a long, hot walk, but a walk none the less. There is such a diverse pepper combination that is difficult to peg a dominate flavor source. I see the listed ingredients are not in order by scoville heat unit scale measure but in a manner that each pepper’s heat compliments each other. Remember the flavor curve? This was excellent.   Well done 9 Circles. The chicken was wonderful as well. I look forward to adding this spice mix to my kitchen inventory.

“The pork loin and the chicken breast that were rubbed with the brown sugar spice mix were obviously not as hot. But for the folks that can’t really handle the heat, but want to be bold enough and try the flavors of these wonderful peppers, this mix works. The brown sugar calmed the intense heat as provided by all these peppers. Ultimately, play around with the spice mix and see with what works for you heat wise.

“I’m happy somebody had the creativity and balls to develop and make this mix. The pepper combination worked well. I have had my fair share of hot pepper mixes, but 9 Circles Of HELL did their homework and produced a product worthy of the 9 dissentions of hell.” [. . .]    –Stephen Bishop, Perfect Meal Today, July 19, 2015.

 

“REVIEW: Taco Bell Diablo Sauce”

“Taco Bell has opened a gate to hell. Proof: “Bell” rhymes with “hell.” Convenient. Seven layer burrito? Nine circles of hell. And there are actually nine layers if you count the tortilla and the Pepto Bismol that is actually essential. And latest of all, they’ve introduced Diablo sauce. Diablo, for the Latin-impaired, is Spanish for the mother-bleeping Devil. Maybe some of you know Diablo as “Stop playing that computer game and come to bed,” but for non-nerds they aren’t even trying to hide it. It’s called Devil sauce. Taco Bell has conjured El Diablo and is feeding us its hot fluids.

“Other hell ties: The Devil is, like, half goat and Taco Bell does NOT serve goat because then we would be eating the Devil’s relatives; “run for the (south) border” can be simplified to “run south” and south (down) is where hell is; and somehow they consider cinnamon Cheetos a dessert. Unholy.”   –Kevin, The Impulsive Buy, 2015

Read the full review here.

Leah Yananton’s Surviving Me: The Nine Circles of Sophie (2015)

“I made Surviving Me because I found from my own experience as an undergrad, that the pressure on our college campuses for women to be hypersexual is damaging to everyone. During my college years in post 9-11 NYC, the world around me stopped making sense and the social scene was full of chaos and escapism, yet in my Medieval poetry class I was reading themes that related to present day. My peers were testing the limits of defying convention regarding sexuality and traditional relationship values, asserting that being liberated meant you were superior to consequences. However, I had the feeling that I had fallen into the River Styx and was swiftly sinking to the bottom. In order to find solid ground, I had to fight for boundaries and integrity and I brought my battle into writing the script. Dante’s Inferno was a constant companion with its focus on behavior and consequences, and Surviving Me became a reflective creative journey.”  –Director’s Statement from Press Notes, Leah Yananton

The 2015 film was directed and written by Leah Yananton and released by Longtale Films. Contributor Alan R. Perry notes that the film is laced throughout with indirect references to Inferno, and the story line is accompanied by Blake’s watercolors, as is also visible in the movie poster at left.

Contributed by Alan R. Perry (Gettysburg College)

Jennifer D. Upton, The Ordeal of Mercy (2015)

jennifer-d-upton-the-ordeal-of-mercy-2020“The Ordeal of Mercy is a book of wide erudition and simple style; its goal is to present the Purgatorio, according to the science of spiritual psychology, as a practical guide to travelers on the Spiritual Path. The author draws upon many sources: the Greek Fathers, notably Maximos the Confessor; St. John Climacus; Fathers and Doctors of the Latin Church, including St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas; John Donne, William Blake and other metaphysical poets; the doctrines of Dante’s own initiatory lineage, the Fedeli d’Amore; the modern Eastern Orthodox writers Pavel Florensky and Jean-Claude Larchet; and the writings of the Traditionalist/Perennialist School, including René Guénon, Frithjof Schuon, Martin Lings, Leo Schaya, and Titus Burckhardt. Other exegetes of Dante have dealt with the overall architecture of the Divine Comedy, its astronomical and numerical symbolisms, its philosophical underpinnings, and its historical context. Jennifer Doane Upton, however—while preserving the narrative flow of the Purgatorio and making many cogent observations about its metaphysics—directs our attention instead to many of its ‘minute particulars,’ unveiling their depth and symbolic resonance. She presents the ascent of the Mountain of Purgatory as a series of timeless steps, each of which must be plumbed to its depths before the next step arrives; in so doing she demonstrates how the center of this journey of purgation is everywhere, and its circumference nowhere. In the words of the author, ‘The soul in its journey must divest itself of extraneous tendencies and desires in order to become the ‘simple’ soul of theology — the soul of one essence, of one will, of one mind. If it can do this it will reach Paradise, its true homeland.'” [. . .]    –Jennifer D. Upton, Angelico Press

Check out the Angelico Press website to read praise for The Ordeal of Mercy.

Margaret Wertheim on Science and God

“Centuries after Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, contemplated the relationship between science and religion, and decades after Carl Sagan did the same in his exquisite Varieties of Scientific Experience, physicist-turned-science-writer Margaret Wertheim offers perhaps the most elegant and emboldening reconciliation of these two frequently contrasted approaches to the human longing for truth and meaning.

“Wertheim is the creator of the PBS documentary Faith and Reason, author of deeply thoughtful books like Pythagoras’s Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender War and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet, and cofounder of The Institute for Figuring — ‘an organization dedicated to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science, mathematics and engineering’.”

“[Wertheim:] ‘I don’t know that I believe in the existence of God in the Catholic sense. But my favorite book is the Divine Comedy. And at the end of the Divine Comedy, Dante pierces the skin of the universe and comes face-to-face with the love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe that there is a love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe in Dante’s vision.'”   –Maria Popova, “Dante and the Eternal Quest for Nonreligious Divinity,” Brainpickings, 2015

See the full article here.

Illustration by Denis Forkas (2015)

“Study for Hypocrites (illustration for Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri/Inferno, Canto 23), after Francisco Goya after John Flaxman,” 2015

“We found, down there, a people painted bright.
Their tread, as round they went, was very slow,
weeping, worn down and seemingly defeated.”[. . .]   —
Study for Hypocrites, denisforkas.com, 2015

(trans. R. Kirkpatrick)

“The 9 Circles of Marathon Training Hell”

“Running a marathon is a great goal. You accomplish something only a small percentage of the population dares to do. You experience setting out and accomplishing something big. And you get to put that 26.2 sticker on the ass-end of your minivan.

Buuuuuut. Let me tell you something about marathons.

You have to train for them. And training for a marathon is like being in all 9 circles of hell at once…for six straight months.”    —DIS Fit Life, August 5, 2015

“Marcus Berkmann: Circles of Hell”

“‘No, that’s definitely the way you want to go,’ said the same man in the hi-vis jacket, whose integrity we were beginning to doubt. But every route we tried, the satnav eventually led us back to the same roundabout, often by the most circuitous of routes. We had no mobile coverage, so could not raise a map by those means. It was like an episode of The Prisoner. Every wrong turning we took, we expected a huge white barrage balloon to head us off.”    –Marcus Berkmann, The Independent, October 9, 2015

Inferno.Etude – Vartan

“… Vartan, a queer former Orthodox Jew from Chechnya whose sculptures and paintings mostly explore demonic and sexual themes. ‘My work always shows a state of human spirit,’ he tells The Creators Project. ‘Demons and angels, pain and uncontrollable desire, fear and loneliness. The naked body in sculpture represents a spiritual condition. I am not interested in ‘politically correct’ art because it’s boring. Shock, controversy, and honesty. These are the three principles of my art.'”    –Anya Tchoupakov, Vice, November 19, 2015

Shown at left is Vartan’s sculpture Inferno.Etude.