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Paradise keeps shifting. It's actually about as shifty as Hell. Both ideas, of Paradise & Hell, have slithered & morphed throughout history, ever responsive to the demands of whoever was in charge at the moment. For example, I've always liked that in Dante's Inferno, Hell was bitter cold. Makes perfect sense when you live in central Italy & the most sybaritic months in existence come in the balmy springs & summers. Obviously, the complete opposite of this lushness would be to spend eternity in the freezing cold. 

I still haven't figured out, though, why our culture still has so many people with a fascination for the Fires of Hell. I was reading an essay several months ago that suggested that we lifted it pretty much in its entirety from the Etruscans. Not a whole lot of thought around it, it seems that if it worked well enough for the Etruscans, it'd work well enough for the rest of Western civilization. That actually leads me to the idea that the real meaning of a fiery Hell is to remind us of the anguish that comes from settling for someone else's picture of life (or the afterlife).

So, this drawing is just another piece of my ongoing project to revise all the old myths.

As an aside, that's the thing that's easy to forget. The myths were made up once upon a time. They were living stories. The details changed with the telling, so they spoke directly to the lives of the listeners. Guess what? There's nothing stopping us from making them up again. Maybe it's my long history as a storyteller, but if a story is not lively & fluid, if it's not adapting to the time, if it's not alive NOW, you might as well pull up a seat & be quiet. Because you're making too much noise for everyone else to hear the tv.  

This one comes mainly out of my intimate experience of our teenage sons. After a lengthy lecture by me on the evils of whatever count for evils in this day & age, my elder son finally shrugged & said So, let's cut to the chase. One, do I have to move out yet? & two, can you put more money in my account?

I guess it just makes sense, given the intensely creative life of our family, he'd come up with a different view of Paradise than all of the previous generations. Somehow, I can't help think that with him, like Adam & Eve in today's sketch, it's going to be an adventure no matter how it turns out.

Especially if there's more money in the account..

with love, Brian

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Reader Comments (4)

"That actually leads me to the idea that the real meaning of a fiery Hell is to remind us of the anguish that comes from settling for someone else's picture of life (or the afterlife)."

How true! I don't have to worry, tho...I am too much of a rebel to let someone else paint my life pic. ;)

April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJo

Oh yes it's all an adventure...and love the joy conveyed in your adam and eve pic...

May 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChrisy

When I read/hear the word: HELL...all I think of are those Holy Cards with the fiery pit from the nuns who taught me in grade-school, and passed them out to the "special" ones in school who got an "F " in Religion class! SOOOOO scary! Oh! Boy...did you ever shape up fast! Love, M.J. and, my best to Ellen. I didn't know of her struggle/fight against breast cancer this past year! Now..breast cancer is really something that should "go to Hell!" God bless her good heart. And, all of you by her side!

May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterM.J.

Amen to this whole post. :) It's one big, strange, revelatory, beautiful, disasterous, unpredictable adventure. And, in truth, I'm quite thankful for it.

May 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

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