No, really. Have a passage from one of the most adventurous science fiction novels of the Twentieth Century:
There was something leaning against a rock. At first I couldn’t make it out: a pink mound with hair trailing down one side. We got closer and the mound became five hundred-odd pounds of woman sitting cross-legged in stinking mud. A swarm of gnats hummed around her. She didn’t bother to swat them.
She looked up at us with lifeless eyes. Benito took my arm to hurry me on past her, but I shook him off. She couldn’t be quite sane either, but she might be able to tell me something straight. It was more than he would do, and I needed help.
I squatted down to look into her face. She was pathetic, hardly in shape to help anyone, including herself. Far back within the tunnels of fat were tiny sparks of life, dull gray against black. Hopeless eyes, almost lifeless.
Her voice was a husky whisper. “Well?”
“I don’t know where I am. I just got here, and I have to know. Can you help me?”
“Help you? I died, and this happened to me!”
“How else do you get into Hell?” Her voice rose to demand attention n despite my shocked surprise. The full force of her breath washed over me in waves. “What did I do? I don’t deserve this! I don’t belong here at all, she wailed. “I was beautiful. I could eat like a horse and burn it off in an hour. Then I woke up here, like this!” Her voice dropped to a low, confidential murmur. “We’re in the hands of infinite power and infinite sadism.”
This early Niven / Pournelle collaboration about a dead science fiction writer’s passage through Hell parallels Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, in outline, but with a difference. Through his sojourn, protagonist Allen Carpenter gradually develops something Dante shied back from, along with other writers and thinkers: a theory of Hell. For the nature of the place as proclaimed to us by both Scripture and its interpreters is impossible for a human being to understand: infinite punishment for sins that are finite.
How does a believer rationalize that disproportion with the premise that God is just?
To address the question takes a considerable amount of courage. It raises eyebrows among the orthodox. It disturbs their convictions and preconceptions. But to be orthodox is not necessarily to be correct. There have been plenty of doctrines proclaimed from on high that are demonstrably incorrect yet were swallowed whole by millions. (“Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” – Orwell)
Not to question is to surrender the gift of sentience to the decrees of others.
Yes, I have a reason for lighting off on this subject at this early hour. We are in the midst of the greatest campaign of suppression of thought that has ever been attempted among men. We have been told:
- that guns cause crime;
- that highways can be racist;
- that runaway inflation is good for us;
- that to be white is inherently oppressive;
- that speech is violence and violence is speech;
- that known, violent felons are victims of the police;
- that plants and animals have more rights than people;
- that rampant destruction and looting is peaceful protest;
- that destroying our supply of fuels is for the greater good;
- that a woman has the right to kill her child, even after birth;
- that capitalism, which has raised billions out of poverty, is unfair;
- that men can become women, that women can become men, and that small children can choose their sex;
- that blacks and women, to whom the law grants special privileges, are victims of “white patriarchal society;”
- and that the evidence of our senses is not to be trusted if The Authorities say so.
Truly, we are in the hands of sadists. (They don’t have infinite power yet, but they’re working on it.) Nothing else could account for this atrocity, in what was once the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. But it might have a purpose even so. That purpose could be analogous to what Allen Carpenter theorized at the end of his novel-long journey to the center of Hell:
“What’s the point? To teach us a lesson? But we’re dead. Revenge, punishment? Completely out of proportion. Balance? Does the universe need as much pain in it as pleasure?…
“There’s only one possible excuse for Hell, and I almost missed it in the ravings of a crazy psychiatrist. It has to be the final training ground. If nothing else can get a soul into Heaven in its life, there’s still Hell, God’s last attempt to get his attention. Like a catatonic in a hotbox, like me in that bottle. If Hell won’t make a man yell for help, then it was still worth a try.”
Americans have been surrendering slice after slice of their freedom over the century-plus behind us. Seldom has any consequence even gotten a sliver of our attention. But today we’re in the hands of sadists. Perhaps it will be enough to rouse us from our welfare / warfare slumbers and reclaim our rights. I hope so, anyway. I’d really like to see the Republic restored to its foundations before I die.
Have a nice day.