Justice Scalia has caused quite a stir by confessing to the New York Magazine that he believes in hell. I suppose that belief in heaven is deemed somewhat less distressing today, though perhaps just as off the wall. Hell is very unfashionable–indeed, tiresomely obsolete.
The reporter in this Huffington Post story wonders how belief in heaven and hell affects Justice Scalia’s judgment on the Supreme Court. But of course, if hell exists, that’s a perfectly trivial matter. What he ought to be asking about is the far more relevant and important question of how judgment is meted out in hell.
As to that issue, fortunately we have an unimpeachable authority:
There stands Minos horribly, and snarls;
Examines the transgressions at the entrance;
Judges, and sends according as he girds him.
I say, that when an evil spirit
Comes before him, wholly it confesses;
And this discriminator of transgressions
Sees what place in Hell is meet for it;
Girds himself with his tail as many times
As grades he wishes it should be thrust down.
Always before him many of them stand;
They go by turns each one unto the judgment;
They speak, and hear, and then are downward hurled.
Dante, The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Canto V.
This November, Manchester University Press will publish Monarchy, Religion and the State: Civil Religion in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the Commonwealth by Norman Bonney (Edinburgh Napier University). The publisher’s description follows.
This most thorough and contemporary examination of the religious features of the UK state and its monarchy argues that the long reign of Elizabeth has led to a widespread lack of awareness of the centuries old religious features of the state that are revealed at the accession and coronation of a new monarch. It is suggested that the next succession to the throne will require major national debates in each realm of the monarch to judge whether the traditional rituals which require professions of Christianity and Protestantism by the new monarch are appropriate, or whether they might be replaced by alternative secular or interfaith ceremonies.
It will be required reading for those who study the government and politics of the UK, Canada, Australia and the other 13 realms of the monarch. It will also appeal to as well as students and lecturers in history, sociology and religious studies and citizens interested in the monarchy and contemporary religious issues.
This November, Columbia University Press will publish Religion, the Secular, and the Politics of Sexual Difference, edited by Linell Cady (Arizona State University) and Tracy Fessenden (Arizona State University). The publisher’s description follows.
Global struggles over women’s roles, rights, and dress increasingly cast the secular and the religious in tense if not violent opposition. When advocates for equality speak in terms of rights and modern progress, or reactionaries ground their authority in religious and scriptural appeals, both tend to presume women’s emancipation is ineluctably tied to secularization. Religion, the Secular, and the Politics of Sexual Difference upsets this certainty by drawing on diverse voices and traditions in studies that historicize, question, and test the implicit links between secularism and expanded freedoms for women. Rather than position secularism as the answer to conflicts over gender and sexuality, this volume shows both religion and the secular collaborate in creating the conditions that generate them.