Good news for those bound for eternal damnation: A recent Vatican-endorsed editorial says we no longer need to fear an afterlife of fire, brimstone, and Satan-organized torture. The Christian Century
(Sept. 22, 1999) reports that a kinder, gentler hell is suddenly in vogue among those in the know. "Hell exists, not as a place but as a state, a way of being of the person who suffers the pain of the deprivation of God," according to the editorial in Civilta Cattolica. Though this no doubt comes as a great relief to sinners everywhere, the edict mysteriously omits any mention of a stairway to heaven, leaving open the possibility that eternal paradise is simply the state of mind induced by a good cup of coffee.