“Rings of Fire: With 9 Circles, Dante’s Inferno Meets Real-Life U.S. War Crimes in Iraq”

“This taut, 100-minute production of 9 Circles — a framing of Dante’s Inferno with a young U.S. war criminal at its center — has a way of implicating its audience in the action. The play, by Jesuit priest Bill Cain, is loosely based on the horrifying, real-life story of Army private Steven Dale Green, a young soldier from Midland, Texas, who was convicted in 2009 of playing a key role in the murder of an Iraqi family and the serial rape of a 14-year-old girl.”    –Brendan Kiley, The Seattle Times, June 3, 2016

“Iraq: Dante’s Hell for Animals?”

“Nearby, a brown bear that once roamed the Kurdish mountain reaches from the shadows of a filthy enclosure for a wafer biscuit that a boy holds just out of reach. Meanwhile, in a central cage that seems to double as the zoo’s garbage dump an adult male baboon makes lewd gestures to a group of teenage boys poking him with sticks. This sad place is not the beastly equivalent of Dante’s third hell, but a zoo — and a typical one for captive animals in Iraq.”    –Tracey Shelton, Public Radio International, May 22, 2010

Terrestrial Inferno: Dante Today

“Reading Dante’s Inferno today reminds us that hell has been built on earth. The machinery of war, like the descending circles of hell, trap people into a blind life followed by a blind death – all without meaning.

[. . .]

Dante’s Inferno was written as a warning and a spur to human beings – warning them not to fall prey to the empty promises of wealth and power, spurring them to contact the Divine Other in a life of spiritual reflection in order to find and follow what is good. In this tradition I show the images that are in the video. The hell on earth glimpsed here is the result of our collective indifference to the ambitious search for power and wealth that has been launched by a few in the name of society. I am referring to the so-called ‘global war on terror’. A part of every taxed purchase we make goes to its funding, rendering us complicit in its execution. Moreover, the theme of consumption is an integral part of Dante’s poem. Here I show the way that in the interests of providing food for all, our consumption habits have denied the lives of those animals we consume. The industrial production of food, furthermore, has not eradicated global hunger – rather it has created health epidemics like obesity (not to mention swine flu). Dante would be lost if he were transported to this cruel world: are we equally lost here?”    –V Gimbel, Vimeo, December 11, 2009

“The Secret Letter From Iraq”

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A Marine’s letter home, with its frank description of life in “Dante’s inferno.”    —Time Magazine, October 6, 2006