Thursday, October 30, 2014

What the hell??

"CBS Sunday Morning" had a look at Heaven and Hell this past Sunday morning, a look at how we perceive Heaven and Hell.  I was interested to see old paintings showing Old Beelzebub himself hanging around the gates of Hell, with some fallen angel who is shown as having the key to Hell.

Am I all alone in wondering why there would be a key to Hell?  I mean, isn't it like a Denny's or a Kwik-E-Mart - always open? Who's coming to the door of Hell, anyway? Siding salesmen?  Door-to-door home improvement people who "just finished a job for one of your neighbors"?

This being Halloween week, I thought we could put the pumpkin pie aside for a minute to find out just why we all go to farm stands to purchase pumpkins, then take them home, cut lurid mouth and eye shapes in them and put a candle inside to celebrate All Hallow's Eve.

The Devil can take many forms
Well, this practice didn't just start when Dick Cheney was a boy. People have been carving jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for hundreds of years. It all started with an old Irish myth about a guy they called “Stingy Jack,” who went out drinking with the Devil. Being stingy, Jack didn't want to pay, so he talked the Devil into turning himself into a coin (remember, he can take many forms). Remaining cheap, Jack decided to keep the coin in his pocket, next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack continued to torment the hell out of the Devil for years, until Jack died, after carving a cross into a tree where he had the Devil cornered.

The legend has it that God would didn't want an unsavory type like Jack in Heaven. But the Devil, tired of being played for a fool by Jack, would not allow Jack into Hell, so he sent Jack away with just a burning coal to light his way in the dark night. There being no farm stands in Hell (but plenty of turnips),  Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with this homemade lamp ever since. The Irish called this ghostly figure “Jack of the Lantern,” which became “Jack O’Lantern.”

And here in America, since we were going to make so many pumpkin pies, Jack's descendants had a ready source of hollowed-out gourds to illuminate.

Next, we'll take a look at how it is that Carson Daly is famous. Hint: there might be a connection!

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