"Gluttony is not a secret vice," the corpulent Orson Welles noted.
And being no secret, it also answers a question haunting America at this moment: "Where in hell isJerry Falwell?"
As you can see from the accompanying photo, Jerry porked up hugely in the last few years of his inimitably hate-filled life. That means he is at the very least in the third circle of hell which, according to Canto VI of Dante's Inferno, is reserved for gluttons.
There, he lies facedown in the mud, under a shower of filthy water and excrement, while being gnawed on by the three-headed dog Cerberus. Perhaps he has taken the place of Ciacco ("Hog"), a Florentine famous for gluttony whom Dante meets in the third circle. Ciacco predicts the political unrest in Florence that will eventually result in Dante's banishment. That would be very Jerry, issuing dark political omens that ruin lives.
Please keep in mind that I am situating Jerry in circle three according to his own worldview. Gluttonyâ overeating â is no sin in secular life. It is a health condition (or a job!). But in the religious view, it is among the seven deadly sins and Jerry thus must become a dog biscuit in hell forever and ever, amen.
It could be worse. Pity Tinky Winky, the Teletubby Jerry outed as a homosexual co-conspirator in the Sept. 11 attacks. He is not yet dead, but he is bound for the burning desert of circle seven unless he gives up sodomy and turns his attention from purses to piety. (And, really, Jerry also qualifies for circle eight, where those who have uttered "fraudulent rhetoric" are subjected to all manner of tortures.)
As it happens, nearly all the religious traditions have a figure called the "hungry ghost." In Hindu mythology, they are called pretas. The Japanese call them gaki. These figures are not necessarily overeaters but are condemned to eternal hunger, probably because wrongdoing is so often an expression of overindulgence, a failure to inhibit impulse in a sense broader than literal gluttony. Having not been able to contain themselves in life, the evil ones are cursed to hunger without a moment's satiation in all of eternity.
So there you have it, you literary foodies. Jerry's in the third circle, dreaming of doughnuts, calling the dog that devours him a feminist abortionist and blaming Tinky Winky's homosexuality for all his problems.
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