|Last Judgement by Hans Memling|
The Rev. Joseph Koterski, an associate professor of philosophy at Fordhman, who lives in a residential college among freshmen there, said awareness of contemporary church teaching on hell is largely confined to students majoring in theology. Among many students, he said, more traditional ideas of hell exist as unexamined background images that they carry with them along with a general fear of the unknown.If those traditional ideas remain real for many people, it may be because the art and literature expressing them remain so abundant. Religious art depicting heaven or hell remains widely accessible on church buildings, in art books and in museums. During the Middle Ages, said Prof. Peter Casarella, a theologian at the Catholic University of America in Washington, ''because beliefs about purgatory and hell were not known through literary documents, they were known through visual depictions, frescoes and reliefs and the fronts of cathedrals, and they were known through popular preaching.'' A common illustration showed naked sinners engulfed in Satan's mouth.
Link (here) to the 1999 New York Times Article.