Love & the Inferno.

November 14, 2007

After a refreshing weekend in San Diego (more on that later), I’m back in the classroom again.

The seniors are still making their way through Dante’s Inferno.  I really appreciated the comments & the encouragement from all of you in the last post . . . because today, “it” happened again with a different class.

The students read Canto III last week.  In the canto, Dante & Virgil read the following inscription on the gate to the inferno (Dante’s version of hell):

I AM THE WAY INTO THE CITY OF WOE.
I AM THE WAY TO A FORSAKEN PEOPLE.
I AM THE WAY INTO ETERNAL SORROW.

SACRED JUSTICE MOVED MY ARCHITECT.
I WAS RAISED HERE BY DIVINE OMNIPOTENCE,
PRIMORDIAL LOVE & ULTIMATE INTELLECT.

ONLY THOSE ELEMENTS TIME CANNOT WEAR
WERE MADE BEFORE ME, & BEYOND TIME I STAND.
ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE.

We analyzed the inscription yesterday, & my journal question for them today was, “Is it conceivable that divine Love could build a place like hell?  Can love & eternal retribution coexist?”

Interestingly, the majority of the students wrote & said, “Yes.”

But in third period, several students objected.  They said, “No, a God of love cannot build a place like hell, because Love forgives.  If there’s a hell, everyone would go there, because no one’s perfect; everyone sins.”  With the exception of a couple quiet students, the entire class agreed: if there was a hell, everyone would go there, because everyone sins.

A student then raised his hand & asked, “Then who can even go to heaven?  If everyone sins & should be punished in hell, who can make it to heaven?”

All eyes were on me again.  To clarify, I asked him, “Are you asking what Dante would say, or are you asking in general?”

He asked, “In general, in real life, how do you get to heaven?”  He wasn’t trying to be funny or make a scene; he really wanted to know.

One student called out, “You repent.” (I think she’s a Christian.  Last week, I was listening to Christian radio during lunch & she said, “Hey, I like that song.”  The song was How Great is Our God by Chris Tomlin.)

Before anyone could respond to that, another student asked me, “Miss Han, do you believe in a heaven & hell?”

I had a huge smile on my face.  I couldn’t believe this was happening again (last time, it happened in second period; today, it was in third period).  I said, “I do . . . but if you want to know my specific beliefs about those things, come in & talk to me later outside of class time.”

As they began their next activity, I walked among the aisles, smiling & praying some students really would come in later to talk to me . . .

& I’m still praying.

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3 Responses to “Love & the Inferno.”

  1. garnet Says:

    : ) ill pray tooo

  2. jennifer lee Says:

  3. stephanie Says:

    im flying up friday mornin’. are you free for lunch???


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