Since we are both ladies who work in the general vicinity of the news, it's nice to sometimes be able to bring you, our devoted and loving readers, something that's topical ... AND somehow related to the Iditarod.
Ta-da! The New York Times took time out from its busy CEO-defending schedule to publish this article, which you should read because it's cool, but which I will summarize here for those of you who are afraid of links: Ahem. The Catholic Church is bringing back indulgences! It's not quite a return to the medieval, because they're not allowed to sell them per se. Rather, donations to charity can earn indulgences for church members.
For those of you rolling your eyes and opening up a Wikipedia tab, here's how it works. Catholics confess their sins, but they still have to do time in Purgatory to make up for all those sins before they can get into Heaven. Indulgences are a thing the church can give you that will reduce your time in purgatory. They come in two varieties: partial, which gets you out of some of your time, and plenary, which gets you straight into Heaven until you commit some other sin. Oh, and you can buy them for dead people too. Well, not buy them. Anyway, apparently a lot of modern Catholics have never heard of them, because THEY HAVE NEVER READ THE INFERNO, APPARENTLY. The church did away with indulgences in the '60s, but they definitely had them in Dante's time. In fact, there is a whole bolgia in the 8th circle of hell for priests who sold them. The practice is called simony ("the more you know!"), and the guys who committed it are in these sort of hellish baptismal fonts, upside down, and when other simoniacs they go in the same fonts and eventually the souls get sort of hammered down into the rock of hell.*
Oh, one thing to know about indulgences: if you go to hell, they don't help you at all.
On another note, Dante was the most creative, sick dude who ever lived. Seriously, he could be a villain in one of those horror movies where the crazed psychokiller thinks of ever more horrible, tortuous ways to do away with his victims.
Actually, that would be kind of a sweet movie.
*Heh. Reality show name?