The Inferno.

November 7, 2007

My seniors are now reading Dante’s Inferno (based on Dante’s medieval Catholic beliefs & political biases).  In this narrative poem, Dante himself is the protagonist who journeys through the “inferno” (his version of hell) with Virgil as his trusted guide.  He travels through the inferno, in hopes of learning how to avoid sin & reach “paradise” (his version of heaven).

I asked the seniors if they, like Dante, would take a journey through the inferno if they had a “trusted guide” with them who promised they would only be visiting.

Some of their responses broke my heart:

“Yea, I’d want to see what hell is really like.  Maybe I’d like it there better than heaven.  Maybe it’s a better fit for me.  I mean, how do we know it’s really such a terrible place?”

“I don’t believe in a hell.” (This student is a serious, practicing Jehovah’s Witness.)

“I’d want to go there & ask the people how they ended up there.  Then I’d do everything I could to avoid ending up there.”

There were other responses, but this was the very last one:

“So, is that really the only way to Paradise?”  She wasn’t talking about Dante anymore.  She was serious.  She wanted to know.

My heart really ached.  All the students (atheists, agnostics, Catholics, Jehovah Witness, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians . . .) looked at me, waiting to hear my response.

I wanted to tell her the gospel.  In my head, I was putting my hand on her shoulder, looking her in the eyes, & saying, “No, not at all. Christ is the only way to heaven.  & not ‘Christ’ in the way Dante portrays Him.  I can give you a Bible & show you exactly what God says.  They’re His words, not mine.”

But I couldn’t tell her that (one of the grievous limitations of being a public school teacher).  I just said, “According to Dante it is, but remember, that’s just his opinion.”

Would you pray for us?  For me, wisdom.  For them, a saving knowledge of Christ, “the [only] way, the truth, & the life”.


10 Responses to “The Inferno.”

  1. nathaniel Says:

    awww… that piercing, aching feeling. You keep praying too tia! =)

  2. tia Says:

    will do! thanks for the reminder! i’m sure i’ll need the reminder very often . . .

  3. cathiekimn Says:

    aw tia — that’s heartbreaking…
    mm i’ll talk to you very, very soon :]

  4. garnetkim Says:

    ah tiaaa. i’ll be praying. : )

  5. Cody Says:

    Tough, serious questions can definitely be a problem, especially when you know not everyone is going to like your answer.

    I’m not sure what my answer to the traveling through Dante’s inferno question would be. I probably would if it was just a visit, but I don’t think I’d like it at all.

  6. Chris Arsenault Says:

    She asked the question – you could have responded – “I have my own beliefs that I hold absolutely certain on this issue – if you’re curious you can ask me later about my beliefs.”

    There is a distinct difference between teaching and sharing your own views. When a student asks you for your personal beliefs, you cannot be denied your First Amendment rights. All that political correctness is there to silence you.

    Ultimately, when it comes down to it – you have to chose your allegiance, to Christ or to the school system.

    I’ve chosen Christ.

  7. tia Says:

    Chris, that’s incredibly encouraging. Thank you.

  8. Discardes Says:

    Either way, I’m sure every other strongly spiritual person has felt as strongly as you do about the Godman. Believing anything has never saved anyone. It’s action that preserves. I can believe there’s no shotgun about to take my face off, but that doesn’t make it go away.

  9. tia Says:


    I agree: it is possible to sincerely believe in something yet be sincerely wrong about it. I guess to clarify, it isn’t so much about mere faith but the object of one’s faith (Jesus Christ). & it is faith in Him expressing itself in action that is true, saving faith (James 2:14-26).

    I appreciated your comment. Keep in touch, friend :]

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