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Rhymes With Orange, 7/12/23

One of my biggest beefs with several of the more popular religious cosmologies is the concept of hell: the idea that anything you could do in a finite lifetime could be worthy of infinite punishment just seems wildly unbalanced to me. (Honestly nothing we do could possibly be good enough to merit infinite reward either, but I have a lot less problem with that because I’m a big softie.) Theological sophisticates will tell you that the real punishment you get in hell is separation from God’s grace, but I’m willing to bet that most people who believe in hell think it consists of very real and very agonizing endless physical torture, which makes the whole thing even more abhorrent to me.

Now, I’m not such a scold that I’m can’t appreciate cartoonish depictions of hell — like, I don’t think you should drop pianos on people from a great height either, but I still enjoy classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Even in those cases, though, I’m always struck by the extent to which gruesome torment is at the core of the joke. Sometimes it’s in iconography that everyone kind of ignores — does anyone really think about why the devil is always depicted holding a pitchfork? it’s not a fun reason! — but sometimes it’s pretty deliberate. In this strip, I love that the slot machines themselves are fiery hot, leaving the poor damned players in agony as they pull the lever over and over again (and, presumably, never win). Do you think they’re kept in place by some mental block that makes them unable to leave the machine, perhaps mirroring a vice they were guilty of in life? Or are there just some chains or something at their feet that we can’t see, due to all the flames that are eternally burning their flesh?

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 7/12/23

The bad news is that Sheriff Tait, the only law enforcement officer in the community of Hootin’ Holler, died from massive blood loss and organ damage after being mauled by a vicious bear. The good news is that this saved him from an even worse fate: dying slowly and terribly from the rabies that he contracted from a bat who bit him just moments before the bear caught up with him.