Mirriam-Webster Dictionary online defines hell as: a nether world in which the dead continue to exist : Hades | the nether realm of the devil and the demons in which condemned people suffer everlasting punishment often used in curses | or as a generalized term of abuse | a place or state of misery, torment, or wickedness | a place or state of turmoil or destruction | a severe scolding | unrestrained fun or sportiveness | an extremely unpleasant and often inescapable situation.
What the hell! The definition of hell seems to have no end to it. And so are the debates about its location. Theologians, pastors, congregants and even the inebriated speak about hell in an everlasting manner. Hell, according to them, is the ultimate punishment for disobedient people. People will be cast into a lake of fire if bios are not up to scratch in God’s sight. Even the tiniest theft can qualify one for a spot in hell. Take time to recall the many times, at home, you stole syrup from the bottle in the cabinet and then replace the amount you stole with water. All done to trick your parents into believing that the syrup had remained untouched. But before we all panic about going to hell, we must first find out if hell really exists outside of the daily hardships that we experience.
The word hell used in different ways
Hell is a popular and convenient word for some people. They are hooked on using it. A person will use it to express their mood, likes and current situation such as: I am going through hell. I am having a hell of a time trying to study. I look like hell. I like the hell out of that dress she is wearing. The manager at work is giving me hell. To hell with Jack if he doesn’t understand what I mean. And there are times when few people will use the word hell to threaten others. For example: It will be hell to play if I don’t get paid the full amount owed to me. Also, some people will boldly tell others that they are ugly like hell. Among all the hell talks, I have observed the selective behavior of the christian person. Hell only becomes a part of their language when the topic is about God. I speculate that because of the information given about the reputation of hell and its fiery lake, Christians have refrained from using it otherwise. Hell is just hell. All words can be used to represent good no matter how filthy they are. However, if it’s one's desire to spend eternity in heaven with God, it's best to abandon hell and it's attractions. Because I am sure some people will want to arrive in heaven with squeaky clean mouths. Mint fresh and righteous.
The fear of the word hell
Looking back over the years, for as long as I can recall, hell has lived up to its qualities. It’s a hellish word. Fiery! It’s a taboo word. It’s a curse word. I recall as a child the adults around would reprimand any child who uttered the word hell. The adults too were afraid to let it escape them in the presence of peers and children. They feared hell more than they feared God. Spelling the word hell was a better choice to them. And here’s how they would spell it and use it if they were angry with someone: Go to h-e-2 sticks! Although that is the situation, there are times when hell is viewed as a darling word by the people reporting about the great time that they had at an event or on a romantic date. From their lips to their audience, but certainly not God's ear, they joyfully say: I had a hell of a time.
Hell used as a curse word
Mind your manners with the word hell. And it doesn’t matter the generation. It’s just one of those words that gives the creeps. I am a Baby Boomer and I grew up knowing that it can also be a curse word. My parents generation knew that too. People obviously feared using it as a curse word rather than its connection with fire. We are now in the 21st century and if anyone is in disbelief that it's a curse word, just listen to the now generation and how they incorporate it into what they have to say. They also fear pronouncing it. All the generations after Baby Boomers are in fear of saying this word aloud. Unlike Baby Boomers the later generations are not into writing out words. They are true minimalists in all they do. Less is best. They embrace acronyms, especially: WTF, OMG, LOL IDC, and YOLO. So it would be difficult for them to write the word hell in full. Their style is H (hell). And when they are in a defiant state they will write or say: H To The No. Whereas, Baby Boomers remain committed to: h-e-2 sticks (hell).
Tah-tah! Respect the respect legacies.
Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2023