“The real-life individuals Dante encounters in heaven and hell betray his political viewpoints. He opposed the aspirations of Pope Boniface VIII and longed for the Church to focus on the afterlife rather than earthly riches. Politically, he was nostalgic for the heyday of the Roman Republic, when leaders were loyal not to themselves but to the Republic.” — Tim Brinkhof, “Dante’s Divine Comedy isn’t only about religion. It’s a political statement.”, Big Think, July 4, 2023
“On the 14th of September, 1321, Dante Alighieri died in exile. He was called a lot of things —poet, artist, philosopher —but at the time his most prominent label was heretic. He was such a threat to the church that, eight years after his burial, Cardinal Bertrand du Pouget demanded the man’s bones be dug up and burned at the stake.
Ask any historian how he died and they’ll answer malaria, but his story is written by the victors, and arsenic poisoning wasn’t quite as easy to spot in the fourteenth century.
I’ve never read Dante’s Inferno, which is strictly banned in the Darling household, but after spending the last two weeks researching all things hellish with Saul, I know the poem pretty well.
In this early epic poem, the bottom layer of hell is described as freezing cold, an icy lake where Satan dwells.
This characterization didn’t stick around, and look where it got Dante.” —Chuck Tingle, Camp Damascus (July 18, 2023)
To read more or to purchase the book, visit Macmillan Publishers.
Contributed by Zoe D’Alessandro, Florida State University ’21
“Dante published his ambitious and unusual poem, Divine Comedy, more than seven hundred years ago. In the ensuing centuries countless retellings, innumerable adaptations, tens of thousands of fiery sermons from Catholic bishops and Baptist preachers, all those New Yorker cartoons, and masterpieces of European art have afforded Dante’s fictional apparition of hell unending attention and credibility. Dinty W. Moore did not buy in.
“Moore started questioning religion at a young age, quizzing the nuns in his Catholic school, and has been questioning it ever since. Yet after years of Catholic school, religious guilt, and persistent cultural conditioning, Moore still can’t shake the feelings of inadequacy, and asks: What would the world be like if eternal damnation was not hanging constantly over our sheepish heads? Why do we persist in believing a myth that merely makes us miserable? In To Hell with It, Moore reflects on and pokes fun at the over-seriousness of religion in various texts, combining narratives of his everyday life, reflections on his childhood, and religion’s influence on contemporary culture and society.” —University of Nebraska Press
“The thing is … I love air conditioning. And I hate, haaaaaaaaaaaate being hot. ‘Oh, thank you Jesus,’ were my first words upon entering our 68-degree oasis with a carload of groceries on a 90-plus degree, muggy summer day where the outside feels like a shvitz or the third ring of Dante’s Inferno. Central air conditioning is grace for me. But what if my blessing is a curse for someone else? Like, say, the rest of the planet? Air conditioning hurts the environment, quaffs energy, and hastens global warming. But is my air conditioner evil? What would Jesus do? For one thing, Jesus recognized the Jewish kosher laws. A fairly new movement in Judaism today called eco-kashrut (aka ‘eco-kosher’) expands on the ancient dietary laws to look at what’s kosher in terms of ethical living, fair trade, the ecological concerns involved in food production, consumerism, and lifestyle, including whether to air condition or not.” [. . .] –Cathleen Falsani, SOJOURNER, October, 2009.