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    September 19th, 2012 @ 7:11 am by Kevin

    Whether they realize it or not, Americans are steeped in the language and imagery of hell. They encounter it at the movie theater, in church, on television, in heavy metal music, video games, novels and comic books–even in their food. Ever tried Doyle’s Made in Hell hot sauce? What about Hell’s Fury coffee?

    Then there are all the phrases that include the word “hell”: What the hell? Like hell. From hell. Go to hell. Raise hell. Hell no. Hell yeah! Run like hell. Feel like hell. Look like hell. Mad as hell. See you in hell. Shut the hell up!

    As Brad Jersak says in his book Her Gates Will Never Be Shut, if Dante were to come back today, he would be completely confused: Is hell a place, a state of being, a catch phrase or a brand?

    How can we explain this obsession with hell? On one level, it’s pretty easy–hell is a brilliant marketing tool. Converging on themes of death, torment, violence and despair, it offers us a never-ending storehouse of titillating images. Embracing hell also represents the ultimate act of defiance, the triumph of the individual over the oppressive majority. So if you want to position yourself or your product as the choice of self-styled mavericks everywhere, associating it with hell is an obvious move.

    But far from a rhetorical gloss, I think the prevalence of hell in American language and culture actually represents the outworking of three concepts that have defined America since its inception: freedom, justice and truth.

    You can read the rest of this post here.

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