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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hell is Others?

The famous french philosopher John-Paul Sartre once said, “Hell is others!” (Photo, Dante and Virgil in Hell circa 1850 by the artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau) His philosophical thinking obviously promotes self-centeredness. Biblical based theism would reverse Sartre’s statement and say, “Hell is self” meaning, “selfishness.” The sins of egoism, pride and selfishness divide us from each other and thrust a person into isolation from God. Unchecked, it delivers a person into perpetual and mortal loneliness.

All types of "homelessness" at its core is aloneness stemming from the conditions of sin at work in each one of our lives. Sin divides us from a relationship with God and from each other. “Homelessness” and most loneliness result from the sins of pride, arrogance, selfishness, self-centeredness, self-absorption and superiority. When these types of conditions are rampant within our individual lives and within the lives of families, churches and other groups – there may be a house, but there will not be a home. Everyone involved will experience isolationism and thus “homeless” conditions.

New Testament based theism calls the person out of self and into community. In Mark chapter 10 Jesus promises the Christian an extraordinarily large community of people - brothers, sisters, mothers and children a hundred times as much if they leave everything to follow him. In Christ we find the exit from the hell of self-absorption. It is here that God wishes to nourish, bless and move each one from aloneness and into community. He restores our souls by giving many friendships as well as new and dynamic relationships. We are no longer homeless, but home.

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Anonymous said...

From what I remember from Existentialist studies, Jean Paul Sartre actually said "hell is other people," meaning that others make our lives a living hell. The reference is from the play "No Exit." I personally believe that sartre is right. Hell is other people. People can make our lives a living hell. I don't believe it has anything to do with being self centered or with the sins that you've mentioned. It has more to do with how people treat us.

Anonymous said...

Most of Sartre's plays are richly symbolic and serve as a means of conveying his philosophy. The best-known, Huis-clos (No Exit), contains the famous line in French "L'enfer, c'est les autres." Literally in English it translates as "Hell is others" or "The hell is the others." However, it is usually translated with the implied meaning, "Hell is other people".