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A wonderful illustration—from a purely literary perspective—of Fr. Lepp’s observation can be found in James Joyce’s heavily autobiographical novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1916. The 1977 film adaptation dragged somewhat, as the novel did not lend itself well to that medium. However, John Gielgud, who plays a priest at the Jesuit College that Joyce attended, delivers a riveting performance as the retreat preacher who gives a sermon on hell for the spiritual benefit of the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, and his fellow students. Stephen has been consorting with prostitutes, and the short term efficacy and ultimate failure of this terrifying (for some) approach to the problem of sins of the flesh is depicted quite well, I think.


Sermon on hell in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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