The inferno on a cold January night: air conditioned pure essence

“The Divine Comedy” is one of the great imaginative creations that have been put onto paper. It is sometimes considered the greatest Catholic poem as “Paradise Lost” by Milton is the great Protestant poem. It forms the basis of Italian literary education; and in the North American mind it has both cognitively and emotionally colored and consensually built a common conception of Heaven and Hell. It all proceeded from Dante’s view of mortal existence as a testing, a preparation of the soul for its possible bliss. Once this is accepted, his cosmogony- Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, follows almost by necessity.

Dante's Bark shown at the Paris Salon of 1822, launched Eugene Delacroix as an artist and also revived Dante's odyssey as a sympathetic subject for monumental painting. This vision of the mortal poet and his classic guide on their precarious voyage across the river Styx reflects the dark side of the romantic temperament. Read More:

Evil must be consigned to its everlasting quarters; the souls to be saved must be scrubbed clean and made presentable and then assigned to celestial seats hopefully with a good view of he stage. His great discovery was that he could turn his philosophical speculations into a narrative, a fiction, by using the simple and ancient device of the journey. In order to speak to all, he must tell the story of one, a man transcending death, visiting the world of the dead and returning with a message for the living.

Things were going smoothly for Dante, in terms of narrative until he entered the third part of the trilogy, Paradisio. After an almost science-fiction dissertation on fire and brimstone, and a form of house arrest/grounding in purgatory, the fresh air and metaphysical purity of ecstasy had the great writer scrambling for words to fill up what had been conceived as a section in equal length to the previous. However, in Heaven, time passes slowly. Heaven, immutable, timeless, the traveler’s movements are spiritualized almost beyond the reach of sense. In place of sharp drawn backgrounds we perceive only a shining haze.

John Lovitz. "It should be no surprise that the defenders of Satan (AKA: Born Againers), never attempted to offer any evidence to support their claims. All they offered were personal experiences, and the repeatedly mentioned statement, “If Satan isn’t real, then God isn’t real (Duh, and your point is?). One of Chopra’s best responses was, “Healthy people don’t need Satan to justify their shame and guilt. They take personal responsibility for their actions.” But, don’t worry, I’m not drinking the Ophra Kool-Aid, Deepak also threw in his usual pseudo-religious bullshit...." read more:

His theme in Paradisio is the human soul’s approach to God. God is not merely power and wisdom, but also love; especially if you are Christian since its good to share the same faith as the almighty. God is the First Essence, the one cause of all, and every human soul, even the stiff-necked ones deep down, yearn to return to this first loving essence, to die into eternal life. And so the whole great poem rolls and roars to its frothy conclusion.

At each stop Dante, the inquisitive reporter  meets some of the joyful and exuberant elect, poses questions and take notes. Its an inquiry into the everlasting difficulties that trouble the believer. For instance, how can a peasant by the banks of the river Indus, who has never heard the name of Christ be condemned for his infidelity? The answer is basically that God moves in mysterious ways, we have this special ingredient called the Primal Will , and other techniques of question dodging bordering on threats, blackmail and immoral suasion.

Hitchens: "Faith is the surrender of the mind; it's the surrender of reason, it's the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It's our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated." — "My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either. It happens to be my view, but it doesn't challenge any of the findings of Darwin or Huxley or Einstein or Hawking."---

Again Dante takes up the old agonizing problem of the resolution of predestination and free will. The whole course of his poem seems to sustain our free will, or freedom to sin or choose virtue. No Maimonides here with that elusive middle way. Punishment or reward; no deals arguing , bargaining or squabbling. IOU’s not accepted. So, he is forced to celebrate the mystery of predestination ; Dante has not resolved the opposition; but no else has either unless they are keeping it for themselves.

Finally, Dante is admitted ot the very presence of God; Moses II; a triumph of the poetic imagination. The world of matter fades; we are held in a weightless world of light. God, the source of the light, appears as a triple ring of three ineffable colors, a celestial spectrum. …

Henry Holiday's version of Dante's second meeting with Beatrice along the Arno in Florence, passionately described by Dante indicates the saccharine extrem

o which later pre-Raphaelites could go. read more:

Many of Dante’s dearest contentions have, of course, been swept away by time- except by American evangelists who blame all natural disasters on God’s will-; his science is medieval, and Heaven and Hell , as part of a vision ruled in harmony by emperor and pope has been discredited, though not by lack of effort. Jews and other heretics can breathe easier.Things have changed… but not quite. There is still the revelation of humanity at odds with the world and itself, conscious of sin and longing for salvation. The sins of our world are more gigantic and evil than any Dante imagined. The post-modern world excels at devaluing sin and perhaps the meaning of our own existence. But for Dante a sin is an offense against God, a grief to God, of whom we are a part. To many, Sin, prompted by a jealous Satan himself, is our perpetual temptation. Thus Dante, as many today  assume that Saints and Demons battle for our souls making us important; a great prize; which is also egocentric.

Jimmy Breslin: quibbling over the classification of a young man who was abused." That would be Cardinal Edward Egan, who was appointed archbishop of New York, and hence de facto leader of the American church, despite his indirect implication in an especially seamy scandal at his former diocese in Connecticut. "They were in court over the issue of -- did the priest bite his penis or did the kid bite the priest's penis? It was confusing," Breslin says drily. Egan objected to the opposing attorney's reference to the young man in the case as a child, since he had been a college freshman at the time. "He was testifying, Egan, and he wondered whether they should call this kid a child or a young man, because he was a student at Sacred Heart College. Basically, he was quibbling over the classification of a young man who was involved in a sexual act with a priest." read more:

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The Boston Globe, with the support of Attorney Garabedian’s clients, successfully petitioned the court to gain access to the secret documents Attorney Garabedian had uncovered.  When those documents were released to the Globe in January 2002 and subsequently published, for the first time, people saw that the Boston Archdiocese was knowingly reassigning an admitted pedophile priest to unknowing parishes. This was a watershed event as it showed the Catholic hierarchy was knowingly reassigning a priest who admitted to being a pedophile. Litigation that followed revealed this was too often a common practice.

The report was one of the most comprehensive accountings of abuse by priests in a diocese since the pedophile scandal engulfed the Roman Catholic Church 13 months ago with disclosures that a Boston priest had attacked 130 boys over 30 years. Since then, hundreds of civil suits have been filed with claims totaling more than $100 million, and prosecutors across the nation have taken their investigations of clerical sexual abuse before dozens of grand juries. In a February 2003 article about a Suffolk County, New York, Grand Jury report concerning pedophile priests within the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, the New York Times reported, :

The 2002 news coverage of the Father Geoghan cases was the beginning of the intense media period for the Roman Catholic Clergy sexual abuse crisis. Attorney Garabedian continued to pressure the church. The Investigative Staff of the Boston Globe. Betrayal, The Crisis in the Catholic Church. The Boston Globe, Little, Brown and Company, Boston (2002), pp. 23-26, 48. The book Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church, written by the Boston Globe Investigative Staff, puts in perspective the secrecy of the abuse scandal and Attorney Garabedian’s efforts… Read More:

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