[Milton-L] NY Times Op-Ed piece by Ross Douthat

Nancy Charlton nbcharlton at comcast.net
Tue Apr 26 12:58:35 EDT 2011


Thanks, I'll seek it out.  Sounds like an echo of the Douthat 
article.  Did someone write a book on this?

Nancy

P.S. Today's edition of Charlie Rose was indirectly pertinent to 
this topic.  Alexandra Styron on her book about her dad Bill, 
James Stewart on his book about lying and perjury, and above all 
Robin Williams plus his co-star and director on his play that 
sounds worth a trip to New York for. .


On 4/25/2011 9:45 PM, Salwa Khoddam wrote:
> Nancy,
> Did you see the latest issue of /Time/?  There's an article 
> titled "Is Hell Dead?" I'm afraid I haven't read it yet, but it 
> is about rogue pastor Rob Bell--no mention of Milton, though 
> there's a cartoon of Dante's /Divine Comedy./
> Salwa
> Salwa Khoddam, Ph.D.
> Professor of English, Emerita
> Oklahoma City University
> 2501 N. Blackwelder
> OKC, OK  73106
> Phone:  405-208-5127
> Email: skhoddam at cox.net <mailto:skhoddam at cox.net>
>
>     ----- Original Message -----
>     *From:* Nancy Charlton <mailto:nbcharlton at comcast.net>
>     *To:* John Milton Discussion List
>     <mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>     *Sent:* Monday, April 25, 2011 7:41 PM
>     *Subject:* [Milton-L] NY Times Op-Ed piece by Ross Douthat
>
>     Hello,
>
>     Ross Douthat's piece "The Case for Hell" in Sunday's NY
>     Times could have been more clearly stated, but it did
>     generate 295 comments.  Had I seen it in time, there would
>     have been 296.  His thesis is that the concept of Hell has
>     lost currency in popular thought, and it just doesn't scare
>     people as it once did.  He attributes this to pluralism and
>     to feel-good evangelism. He makes some use of Dante's nine
>     circles but makes little mention of any other literary
>     descriptions of Hell.
>
>     The URL:
>     http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/opinion/25douthat.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha212
>
>     Not once was Milton mentioned, not by Douthat nor in any of
>     the comments, and I spent a couple reading them all (I
>     excerpted some of them into a .doc file, if anyone would
>     like it.) I felt that omission of any mention of Milton was
>     a major omission, and I feel the need to discuss this issue
>     from a Miltonic standpoint.  Not that we haven't done so
>     many times on Milton-L in one form or another, but some
>     scrutiny of this aspect of contemporary culture might be
>     worthwhile.
>
>     Anyway. I sent the following as a letter to the NYT:
>
>     Editor:
>
>     Had I come upon Ross Douthat's article, "The Case for Hell"
>     before the Comments were closed, I would have written at
>     greater length than I'm doing here about the most cogent
>     description of Hell in English literature, namely, that of
>     Milton's "Paradise Lost." Several commenters came close but
>     did not quote outright awell-known passage in PL: Satan's
>     retort to Beelzebub's urging him to make nice with God:
>
>     The mind is its own place, and in itself
>     Can make a a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
>
>     Subjectivity and self-absorption, the "darkness visible,"
>     can so skew the moral sense that it is easily turned upside
>     down.  This is the "hell," the real evil,  that all,
>     regardless of religious opinion, can and should agree to
>     eschew.  Though Satan gets the best lines, he doesn't get
>     the last word: he and the damnèd crew are turned to a pit
>     of hissing snakes and never heard from more while mercy and
>     justice are meted out to Adam and Eve.
>
>     To fit the requirement of "about 150 words, I had to leave
>     out a lot I would have liked to say. Milton does inspire
>     prolixity by example, but it was, I admit, a nice exercise
>     to write tight!
>
>     Nancy Charlton
>
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