is there any chance that purgatory is not completely horrible?

(101 Posts)
Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 14:43:49

I imagine it is exactly like hell, all fiery torment etc but temporal, with possibility of release at some point, instead of eternal. Please can I be wrong about this?

EllieArroway Thu 21-Mar-13 15:57:47

I have some good news for you.

There's no purgatory. There's no hell. There is just this life, so make the most of it and stop worrying about things that don't exist.

Nicolaeus Thu 21-Mar-13 16:10:15

Are you ok mitchy? I dont believe in heaven or hell etc but went through torment when my friend killed himself and I thought he might be in purgatory.

I dont think that now. I thinks he's at peace.

If you've lost someone maybe try the bereavement board? Lots of support there.

Hope you're om

That's not what purgatory is.

In life if you don't have a relationship with God then it's the same when you're dead. There's no hell fire or torment. smile

Nicolaeus Thu 21-Mar-13 16:12:29

Or if you're thinking of suicide please ring the samaritans.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Thu 21-Mar-13 16:16:49

I thought the Catholic Church had abolished purgatory. Have I confused it with limbo?

It doesn't exist love. Stop worrying.

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 16:44:08

I'm ok! Sorry, really didn't mean to sound so morbid, was just wondering. After a thread in chat about whether you are afraid of dying or not, it occurred to me that maybe it won't be so bad after all.

What is this about purgatory being abolished, what happens instead then - straight to heaven or hell, that's it? shock that's even scarier

Does the fact that the catholic church can arbitrarily decide to "abolish" purgatory not make you realise how utterly fucking ludicrous the idea is in the first place??

How seemingly intelligent people believe this shite is beyond me confused

CoteDAzur Thu 21-Mar-13 16:46:49

How can Catholic Church "abolish" purgatory? Is the Pope omniscient like God, now? <worries>

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 16:54:03

purgatory isn't just a catholic thing though, they can't just decide it isn't real (can they?)

sieglinde Thu 21-Mar-13 16:57:49

Hi, mitchy.

A really comforting read on Purgatory is C S Lewis, The Great Divorce, in which purgatory is like the mizzy bits of this world, all rain and petty quarrels and queueing and late buses.

Another comfort is Dante's Purgatorio. Yes, there is pain, but they are all pretty happy, the way hope of a baby might get you through a difficult labour.

No, it hasn't been abolished, except by some snarky bigots.

They can if it was never real in the first place.

A few scriptures, but can't reference them for you (must take up more reading):

From you dust you came, and to dust you return (it doesn't go on to say if you were semi-good dust you'll go to purgatory, good dust to heaven etc...)

The soul that is sinning, it itself will die. (No mention whatsoever of being tormented for eternity.)

I hope that puts your mind somewhat at ease

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 17:02:43

thanks sieglinde, will read both

but there are scriptures about being in the crucible etc, that is purgatory isn't it, being refined and cleansed for heaven?

Floggingmolly Thu 21-Mar-13 17:05:48

When was Purgatory abolished???

sieglinde Thu 21-Mar-13 17:40:55

It WASN'T abolished, Molly. Generally reformed/Protestant churches don't believe in it, but Catholics still do.

Mitchy, you could also go with the idea that the crucible is a metaphor, not a big pot somewhere. We know that we must work to be in heaven, either here or after death. We know that work is some kind of alchemy of grace and love. Weirdly, love can be hard to accept. Lewis is excellent on this.

LeBFG Thu 21-Mar-13 17:45:16

You seem to know a lot about purgatory sieglinde. How?

CoteDAzur Thu 21-Mar-13 17:53:01

"We know that work is some kind of alchemy of grace and love."

What does this even mean? confused

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 17:55:12

it sounds nice anyway

hope I enjoy the cs Lewis when it arrives, Dante already here somewhere (is divine comedy isn't it?)

EllieArroway Thu 21-Mar-13 18:15:17

How seemingly intelligent people believe this shite is beyond me

Me too. And it's depressing that such medieval crap is still being prattled on about in 2013.

Sieglinde You know? No, you don't.

MadHairDay Thu 21-Mar-13 18:38:57

I don't believe in purgatory.

But then again I'm one of them woolly Anglican types. grin

Mitchy, to me, following God is about freedom, not rules and worries about torment and 'possibility of release.' The release is here, now, in this life, if we choose that <waits for the barrage of 'Bollocks, MHD'> wink

What's the scripture supporting the idea of purgatory? Have often wondered where it came from. Would be interested to hear more.

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 18:53:42

Obviously nobody knows whether it is actually true, sieglinde can know about the doctrine though?

was wondering just in case, best to be prepared isn't it!

EllieArroway Thu 21-Mar-13 19:12:36

And how useful is knowing about a doctrine that's a load of rubbish?

This may not be bothering you much, Mitchy, (and I'm glad) but there are people who are genuinely terrified of such things & whose lives are ruined by fear of hell. The Catholics are a disgrace in this respect. Purgatory, ffs.

AngiBolen Thu 21-Mar-13 19:17:06

Well, last time I was at mass, I'm pretty sure the priest said purgatory wasn't that bad, God was there, as the only place God wasn't was hell.

And as long as you are sorry for what you've done, it doesn't matter how bad you've been you'll get into heaven. Apparently.

CoteDAzur Thu 21-Mar-13 19:29:10

"following God is about freedom"

That is not quite what I would call having to pray, confess, go to mass, pray some more, believe in nutty tales involving a deity, a spirit, and the pregnancy of a virgin, suffer cognitive dissonance over having to believe this nonsense, pray for understanding and enlightenment, etc smile

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 19:37:04

well why pray for the dead then, if there is no purgatory?

AngiBolen Thu 21-Mar-13 20:58:35

Well, if you want to be prepared, never sin and you'll get straight to heaven. grin

They say souls have to be purified before they go to heaven (I get that, you wouldn't want dirty souls in nice clean heaven) and catholic called this purgatory..which was then embellished into something quite dramatic. As a child I was told if you committed suicide you would go to purgatory forever. I imagined people just floated around doing nothing forever, not happy or sad. That now seems like nonsense. grin

Knowsabitabouteducation Thu 21-Mar-13 21:00:52

I think it was Limbo that the RCC randomly abolished. Maybe they will do the same for publicly celibate clergy.

nightlurker Thu 21-Mar-13 21:35:20

After we die, I believe we all end up together as spirits. There are still different religions and beliefs. Some people are happy and others are unhappy or lost as a result of life choices. It doesn't last forever.

After a time, the spirits are reunited with bodies and any that accept Christ inherit a form of heaven. They can accept Christ when they see him, but it is much better to accept him sooner. I believe in degrees of heaven with more righteous people inheriting a higher state of heaven. I am LDS and these are LDS beliefs.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Thu 21-Mar-13 21:47:24

Sorry, my mistake, Wikipedia-ing shows I did indeed confuse it with limbo.

It's a bit of a weird concept though, isn't it? I mean, if you weren't washed clean by the blood of Christ and all that, while you were alive, what's the point of some sort of afterlife Holloway where you work off your remaining sins?

I think in the olden days, you used to be encouraged to leave money in your will to fund masses and prayers to speed your way through purgatory.
Now, I'm not saying that system is open to corruption or anything, but... hmm

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 21:50:08

but it's not expensive to have a mass said, you don't have to donate if you can't or don't want to?

EllieArroway Thu 21-Mar-13 21:50:35

well why pray for the dead then, if there is no purgatory?

Why would you bother praying at all? If you believe in God, then who do you think invented "purgatory" and chooses to put people there? What difference are the prayers of a few feeble humans supposed to make?

More to the point, if you genuinely believe in purgatory, why would you worship the immoral monster that came up with such a vile idea?

All of this rubbish was invented by superstitious medieval people who had no understanding of reality. We have a better one now, so there's no justification in believing such nonsense.

It's not true, so stop worrying. Really.

Annunziata Thu 21-Mar-13 21:52:59

Ciao cara.

You only get to purgatory if you are going to heaven anyway, so it is not Hell.

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 21:55:14


you sound so much like my friend! I love her logic, I wish I wasn't so superstitious

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 21:55:56

Ciao! Come stai?

easy for you to say, you are Good

Annunziata Thu 21-Mar-13 22:13:24

Pfff, definitely not.

Assai megghiu addivintirai si a la morti pinsirai.

garlicbrunch Thu 21-Mar-13 22:24:56

At my CofE primary school, 1960s, purgatory was a yawning, empty blah where you had to float around regretting all the bad things you'd done. It wasn't fire & pain but - here's the stinger - there'd be no sense of time (or any other senses) so it would feel like you were there for eternity. Once you'd got sorry enough for your errors, you'd be let into heaven. It was remarkably like a cosmic naughty corner wink

Assai megghiu addivintirai si a la morti pinsirai. As an atheist who will simply cease to exist at the end of my life, I agree with that! One of the better tools for deciding what to do with one's life is to imagine what you'll think about it on your last day - and what people will say at your funeral. If they're going to say "She kept a very clean house" and you're going to think "I wish I'd been a sculptor", it's a good sign you need to do less housework and more art classes grin

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 22:30:54

I think sono d'accordo con tu too ma addivintirai - come addivengo?

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 22:33:45

anyway even i am good ogni morte di papa

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 22:35:35

What does it mean then, it is better (to reach?) if we think of death?

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 22:38:38

our reach improves if we think of death?

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 22:47:05

I will never know will I sad

Assai like essere? Megghui - meglio, addivintirai - ? and the rest, if one thinks of death (pinsirai - pensare?)

garlicbrunch Thu 21-Mar-13 22:48:17

"You'll be a better person if you think about death."

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 22:51:25

thanks smile

do you by any chance know what addivintirai means?

garlicbrunch Thu 21-Mar-13 22:54:34

As I understand it, it's literally "I will arrive at being better if I think about death". I'm no expert, though.

Sicilians are very good at thinking about death. And wine!

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 22:55:02

oooooh diventare

I get it

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 22:56:32

to become

one becomes better if one thinks of death

garlicbrunch Thu 21-Mar-13 22:59:09

I had to look it up then! Yes, grow or become! And I should have used the second person smile

Mitchy1nge Thu 21-Mar-13 23:00:59

where do you look it up? I'd love a Sicilian dictionary, but thought these things are not really written anywhere

garlicbrunch Thu 21-Mar-13 23:41:51

Professor Google knows everything wink
You might like some of the links from here.

Pan Thu 21-Mar-13 23:53:04

I am pretty sure that the notion of purgatory is based on how you live your life now. It isn't a 'future event'. So if you are compromising yourself all of the time, it will feel like a 'purgatory', but the faith indicates you have motivation to not do that to yourself and others. It isn't rocket science or 'clever' at all.

LeBFG Fri 22-Mar-13 09:16:57

I'm sure the idea of purgatory was a money spinning thing the catholics invented. Wolf Hall (!) recounts how people used to pay the monks to pray for the dead. The more prayers for your soul, the shorter your sejourn in purgatory. Lovely idea that.

AngiBolen - to get to heaven , you have to be really sorry for your sins AND proclaim belief in Jesus. I'm really sorry for my sins but would never be allowed in heaven. I will have to burn in hell with all the other nasties of the world grin.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:02:43

It isn't rocket science or 'clever' at all Or true.

sieglinde Fri 22-Mar-13 10:17:37

LeBFG, Wolf Hall is NOT history. And Mantel's historical qualifications do not make very extensive reading.

Frankly, this is a bigoted and distorted presentation of the doctrine of purgatory and the RC church.

When I broke my leg, the Red Cross lent me a wheelchair. When I returned it, they asked me for a donation, and I gave them fifty quid. It didn't mean I was 'buying' the chair, as they would have given it to me for nothing. Or that I got a 'better' chair for a bigger sum of money.

However, if nobody EVER gives the Red Cross ANY donations then they will cease to exist and NOBODY will be able to borrow a wheelchair from them.

It's the same with chantries and masses for the dead. You are supporting people in good works with a modest income. The RC church understands prayers for the dead as a good work.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:26:51

LeBFG, Wolf Hall is NOT history Indeed not. It's fiction. Like the Bible & the entire teachings of the Catholic Church.

Do you think the Red Cross would lend you a dictionary, Sieglinde? I think you need to look up the term "bigot" - you continually use it wrongly and it's rather insulting to the people who are the victims of genuine bigotry. Your church is not.

ItsOkayItsJustMyBreath Fri 22-Mar-13 10:42:29

sieglinde Is that why limbo was abolished then? Because people stopped paying making donations?

sieglinde Fri 22-Mar-13 12:10:39

Bigotry, from Wikipedia:

Bigotry is the state of mind of a bigot: someone who, as a result of their prejudices, treats other people with hatred, contempt, and intolerance on the basis of a person's race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, RELIGION, language, socioeconomic status, or other status.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. described bigotry in the following quotation: "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract."[1]

You qualify, Ellie.

ItsOKay... no, limbo was abolished because the doctrine caused distress to those whose children died in the womb or in childbirth.

LeBFG Fri 22-Mar-13 12:38:35

You haven't answered my question sieglinde. How come you know so much about purgatory? Also, what history book do you recommend?

sieglinde Fri 22-Mar-13 13:08:05

You might try either Christopher Haigh's English Reformations or Eamon Duffy's The stripping of the altars, LeBFG. Or Paul Binski's book Medieval Death.

I do not know ABOUT purgatory'; I was responding the OP's question, which I took and take to be a question about doctrine. I know about that from reading.

TunipTheVegedude Fri 22-Mar-13 13:20:08

I love the Duffy book. When I read it I realised how one-sided the view had been that we were taught at school ('The Reformation happened because these things were wrong with the church: pluralism, nepotism, simony, indulgences....') It was very much the reformer's eye view of something that was really more complex.
As, indeed, is Wolf Hall, and of course Cromwell has a bit of an ulterior motive....

Hi ... sorry if I have ruffled feathers, but purgatory is not made up by the Catholic Church. It's older than that. A huge number of Christians believe in praying for the death - the Orthodox Church certainly does.

I know it might seem like 'medieval crap', but I think for many people, at many different times, these ideas have been comforting. Ok, they may not seem that way to us, and they may shock and upset us. But I think it's important to remember all the people for whom these ideas are comforting and not just dismiss them as crap.

Btw, Eamon Duffy's books are great, but please be cautious about them. He can't do an accurate reference to save his life, and it can be quite irritating if you're interested in the specifics of what he's saying rather than the general argument. The general argument is fantastic and gives a really good sense of why, historically, people have actually found some of these ideas helped them, rather than just scared them.

OP, personally ... I think if there is purgatory, we feel it in the here and now. I don't know. But theologically, purgatory wouldn't be 'completely horrible', no.

I feel rude snarking at Duffy now. blush

He is brilliant. I just wish he'd footnote properly.

Oh, god, my brain is not working. I read my post back and realized it makes no sense. I mean, I'm sorry if I'm posing rudely, because this thread leaves me with ruffled feathers.

And I am triple-posting. blush

<off to mainline coffee. My purgatory will be hours of failing to communicate on internet forums>

LeBFG Fri 22-Mar-13 13:42:04

SO there is no truth in the monks' 'money for prayers' setup then? Or did Hilary get it all wrong? [genuine interest].

Thanks for the refs sieglinde but I doubt I'll find the enthusiasm to read them (or perhaps I will, who knows). Wolf Hall is more accessible for me wink. But the thing is, how can we know anything about purgatory? No one experiences it and then comes back to tell us about it. So if doctrine does tells us, where does doctrine come from? Is it based on recounting stories from people who've had 'the truth' beamed into them somehow?

No, there's loads of truth in that, I was just responding to the 'medieval' bit.

People certainly spent money on everything from buying a mass, to establishing perpetual chantries (buildings where masses could be said).

I think the thing you've got to remember is, just because people spend money, that doesn't automatically mean they're being conned, or that their money is wasted. A lot of amazing buildings grew out of that money, and a lot of clerics who were doing these masses obviously believed just as devoutly.

What price do you put on someone's sincere belief they are doing something to show their love for a dead relative?

Ok, to you or me it might seem sad, or deluded - but every society needs to have rituals for grieving of some form, and I can't think of any that don't involve spending money, often on something that isn't immediately useful.

Annunziata Fri 22-Mar-13 14:11:18

People still do donate to the priest to say a mass when it comes to your relative's anniversary or at Christmas/Easter, the feast of All Souls. I do anyway.

Well, it's someone's job, isn't it? I don't really understand why it's a shocking concept that people got paid.

People get paid for all sorts of other performances, don't they? (I don't mean any disrespect by calling a mass a performance, just that it's one way to see it if you're pretty convinced it has no deeper meaning except to people who believe).

Annunziata Fri 22-Mar-13 14:15:48

Yeah, it's the priest's 'job' to do, so he has to get paid. I don't see a problem, but I'm medieval apparently grin

There could be worse things to be than medieval. smile

Tuo Fri 22-Mar-13 14:32:09

Also read Jacques Le Goff's 'The Birth of Purgatory', for an in-depth analysis of where the doctrine of Purgatory came from and how it became established. It became part of orthodox doctrine quite late... Council of Florence, mid-C15th. Le Goff suggests that the first use of the term as a noun (i.e. to refer to a place of punishment after death) is sometime in the late C12th. The doctrine of Purgatory isn't biblical, though it is based on the notion of prayer for the dead and of 'testing in the fire' after death, both of which are biblical (but need to be stretched quite imaginatively to add up to Purgatory imho).

I'm not a Catholic and don't believe in Purgatory, though I do have an interest in things escatological, but in answer to Mitchy's original question, I would suggest that you could do worse than go back to your Dante. He's very clear that the pain of Purgatory is positive pain, because it leads ultimately to God and salvation. Suffering in Purgatory (for Dante) is not imposed on the souls by God's justice, but rather they themselves choose it as a way of reuniting themselves with him.

I didn't know it was so late as the fifteenth century that it was made part of orthodox doctrine. I think it's fair to say most people had accepted it centuries before that, as a concept if not as a term. After all Purgatorio is only early fourteenth century (I know that's not exactly theology!). And the Orthodox Church also has the concept, and a lot of Byzantine Art reflects it.

(There was a fantastic exhibition on Byzantine Art in London a few years back, that's the only reason I mention that, i don't really know anything about it.)

Tuo Fri 22-Mar-13 14:46:51

Yeah... I think it was semi-officially accepted before that (late C13th??) but only officially became doctrine at the C. of Florence. Dante is very unorthodox in all kinds of ways. He lets people who've been excommunicated into Purgatory, for example, and doesn't reserve Purgatory for venial sins but has it open to anyone, regardless of what they've done wrong (as long as they truly repent). And he does say that prayers can help the souls in Purgatory, but only if they come from 'a heart in a state of grace' which presumably would exclude corrupt churchmen who prayed only for the dosh(?).

Oh... and I can spell 'eschatological' too, honest blush [pedant].

I would think Lateran Four would have had something to say about it, because it's so closely connected to penance. But I would have to check, I don't know.

I know Dante's unorthodox ... I love the way he's got so much humanity, though, he really doesn't like the idea of so many people being in hell. I love his idea of the shining sphere of the great writers in Limbo (is it Limbo, or the first circle, I forget?).

But I think that idea of not wanting people to go to hell is what is being Purgatory as a concept, not people trying to scare the faithful into giving the nasty greedy Church money.

And I can't spell that word so won't try! grin

sieglinde Fri 22-Mar-13 15:22:27

Yeah, LRD - quite right. I made a comparison with making donations to a charity you find helpful, and that's apt. If you think priests are useful then someone has to make sure they are fed. NB: RC priests earn virtually NO money compared with other persons in other religious orders.

Mantel is tbh a historical twit, working off some childish rage against her school. I HATE it when people cite historical fiction as if it were history, she scowled...

And yyy Dante, as I said upthread - VERY comforting and sensible. Dante has some pagans in Purgatory, even, so it's very inclusive and gentle.

Is she? I like her books, but I didn't know she had a particular axe to grind.

I get the citing historical fiction, though. I think it's quite difficult not to do it.

sieglinde Fri 22-Mar-13 15:40:07

She went to a Catholic school and has been quite explicit about her agenda.

I agree that we are all the creatures of historical fiction, and that's really why the authors need to be more well-informed.

Oh, that's a pity. sad I didn't know.

I love the kind of historical fiction where there's a note at the back telling you all the bits where the author played around with the facts, that sort of thing.

But, then, doesn't Eamon Duffy (sorry to keep going on at him, I do love his books) have an equally explicit agenda? And he's not writing fiction, either.

sieglinde Fri 22-Mar-13 17:47:01

Duffy is RC, but I don't think he's as vindictive in The Stripping of the Altars as he later becomes in Fires of Faith, and even then he's not as vindictive as Mantel. grin And C Haigh has no agenda of this sort.

Oh, goodness, I don't think he's vindictive at all. I think he presents a rather over-sugary version of late-medieval Catholicism, is all. Lots of people would take issue with how active and engaged in religion he thinks laypeople were.

I meant to suggest there are people on both sides of any debate, whose personal beliefs get into their work.

sieglinde Fri 22-Mar-13 18:04:14

Oh, good. I thought you must be thinking of Fires of faith.

It's kinda impossible justly to estimate lay devotion in ANY period, but what great about TSOTA and indeed the Voices of Morebath is that he's pushing back at the previous consensus, which was utterly Whiggish and just assumed the laity didn't understand a word and were all closet Lollards. But then others like Shagan have pushed back at Duffy...

I'd actually incline to the view that everyone's beliefs motivate their work. But Mantel isn't then restrained by a wish to get at a complex truth. She's quite keen to make it simple.

No, sorry - I've not read that, only Stripping the Altars and Marking the Hours. I think they're lovely books and I love his enthusiasm about it all. It's just I know how some people view those books.

It is hard to estimate lay devotion ... but that's what makes it fun! grin I love how what we think about the past is influenced by what we believe now, and what we believe now is influenced by what we think about the past.

I don't share your views on Mantel, but I can see her books get at you!

Pan Fri 22-Mar-13 18:38:22

Isn't this just a great thing about MN? I have just read loads and been massively informed by other posters with knowledge and 'conceptual insight' about this stuff. By just logging on here.

As you were...

Chocolateporridge Fri 22-Mar-13 18:45:50

Happy to confirm that Purgatory and Hell are not actually Bible teachings, they're teachings that have snuck in through the back door over the ages. There are no scriptures that mention them. Sometimes the word "Hell" is used in some Bible translations but it comes from the translation of the words "Sheol" which is the common grave, or "Gehenna" which in Israelite times was the dumping area outside of the city. The Bible teaches that we "go back to the dust" when we die and that we will be "conscious of nothing" . smile

Non-Biblical teachings aren't 'snuck in', it's just that being keen on keeping only to teachings that are in the Bible is not so important in pre-Reformation Christian denominations.

pan - know what you mean! If nothing else I've got to re-read Wolf Hall and see why it annoys sieg so much!

(Not to imply it shouldn't, btw, it's just I love it.)

Pan Fri 22-Mar-13 19:01:54

A friend of mine bought me Wolf Hall, as she thought I'd like it. but I couldn't get past the lack of speaker ascribing. Light weight that I am. Time to girdle my reading loins and have another go.
<learning much but not getting past the 'purgatory is in the here-and-now' thing. It's like 'judgement day'. That's now and how you behave here. Judgement Day is every day. Nice thought.grin>

TunipTheVegedude Fri 22-Mar-13 19:06:25

The trick is, Pan, that if you don't know who it is that's speaking, it's Cromwell.
Hope you enjoy it! It took me two goes but the second time I really got into it and loved it.

It's not lightweight. (It's interesting to compare to the turn the thread on spelling's taken, about what we're conditioned to read, if anyone else is on both).

I wondered if she was doing it because that's how a lot of books then are, too? I'd love to say I like it because I'm used to medieval books not marking speech, but it's actually because I have the concentration span of a gnat and I'm very accustomed to losing my thread in books anyway.

Pan Fri 22-Mar-13 19:33:33

I've got two days in a hotel on my own coming next week for a worky thing in far far away land (well, Boston Lincs actually) - I'll take Hilary with me.

Isn't there LOTS of material in the Bible that directly addresses the immediate conduct, and translates as 'you as God?'. Which is the basis of 'ethics'.

Later developments, such as 'confession' (bearing witness to yourself) and actual 'prayer' are tools to bring you closer to the 'better you' i.e. the ethical you.

Pan Fri 22-Mar-13 19:36:08

<realises this is wandering well away from Mitche's OP>

sieglinde Sat 23-Mar-13 11:47:29

Pan, I hope you love Mantel. Lots do. Though I had a long cosy chat with a former Booker judge who is ABSOLUTELY NOT RC and she turned out to loathe it even more than I did. Can't out here, but let's say she really questioned the choice of it.

I just think she/Mantel is pandering to the totally, drearily normal use of historical fiction to ask NOT 'what would it be like to live in the sixteenth century?' but 'what would it be like for ME, wonderful modern ME, to live in the sixteenth century?' IIRC, James Wood said this about Mantel. It could be said about many.

But don't mind me, LRD and others. I'm a widely known crank.... grin

On purgatory, I was thinking the other way around... purgatory is the incredibly stupid boring valueless bits of THIS life we somehow can't let go of, like the internet, especially Twitter, and TV we KNOW is stupid, and toxic people, and dull jobs, and the grease behind the cooker... but forever, until we can/do let it all go.

MadHairDay Sat 23-Mar-13 11:59:03

Well, this thread has taught me something new too. Love MN smile I've found the Dorothy L Sayers introduction to Dante's Purgatory, and found it very interesting - didn't realise that something of the idea of purgatory went back as far as Origen for example. Certainly not a mediaeval idea in fullness.

As for Wolf Hall, I also gave up a third of the way through and was annoyed at the lack of naming attrition, dh however got through it and said it was worth it in the end. Not sure...

GetOeuf Sat 23-Mar-13 12:19:02

What a fascinating thread. I love mumsnet for stuff like this, I have got lots to read.

You're not being a crank! grin

And besides, isn't that half the fun, being cranky and critical? I like that point about the differences between 'what would be like' and 'what would it be like for me'. But isn't Dante also culpable of this one? It's not 'what would purgatory be like' but 'OMG, I'm, like, sooo down with the purgatoriads! But, you know, a little bit better really ...'.

Interesting what you say about the Booker judge. One of my old supervisors was on the committee recently and I would really have loved to know what his views on each book was, because I remember him having, ahem, decided opinions. It's so easy to forget the comittee won't have been unanimous (or it is for me).

mad - I heard someone claim Sayers translations are in some ways the best version. Are they good? I've only just got into her books but I'm enjoying them. smile

My copy of Purgatorio has died. I dug it out yesterday and it fell to bits in my hands. sad Feel free to tell me which new version I would buy, were I to spend my not-existant cash. Parallel text would be ideal because my Italian isn't up to it.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 23-Mar-13 16:07:14

I love that point about Wolf Hall too. I never saw it in those terms before but I was getting irritated by how nearly all the novels I've seen about this period are from the point of view of the Protestants laughing at the funny superstitious Catholics with their relics. It felt somehow too easy for us to do it that way all the time.
I have to confess though, one of the things for which I am most grateful to Mantel is that Wolf Hall cured me of my 25 year old crush on Thomas More blush I re-read A Man For All Seasons after that and the way More is basically a 1960s free thinker suddenly seemed pretty absurd.

More is quite patronizing to his wife in the TV version of Man for All Seasons.

I do still have a tiny More-crush, though. blush

I was chatting to my mate who does Old Norse stuff today, and she was saying that the ON ideas about what happened when you die sort of map onto Purgatory, too. There's an idea that different kinds of people go to different places, and some are better than others. I wonder how much the pre-Christian beliefs influenced ideas about Purgatory? Because if it was only formalized as doctrine as late as the Council of Florence, there might have been a lot of room for interpretation, mightn't there?

sieglinde Sun 24-Mar-13 13:51:04

Love the ON connections, but what makes it blurry is that Snorri WAS a Christian - so Norse myth as we have it is most likely influenced by RC thought.

Agree that there was nothing liberal about More - the Bolt play is about Mccarthyism - but he wasn't like Mantel's portrait either.

YY I love Sayers. Proppa Dante people don't like her, but it's really readable and not wrong. I love all the diagrams, too.

Oh, sure, I know. It's the constant 'argh' issue with anything Norse, all of it and not just Snorri. But still ...

What was he like, then? Go on! (Maybe we need a separate thread but I want to know and I bet others do too).

sieglinde Sun 24-Mar-13 14:19:52

More? You have to read the securely attributed works. He was funny. Very rude. Dry, ironic. Loved Lucian's Dialogues. Got it about the Greeks. So not a prude, not a goodyguy. Smart as paint, but quick whiplash smart. Probably spoke w/ a not-RP accent - didn't sound posh. Utopia is a brilliant Carollian puzzle game for smart boys.

Oh, I like that.

You make him come alive.

sieglinde Mon 25-Mar-13 08:06:50

Which is more than Mantel did. Thanks!! blush

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