William John Meegan, “The Sistine Chapel: A Study in Celestial Cartography” (2012)

william-john-meegan-the-sistine-chapel-a-study-in-celestial-cartography“Through a comprehensive comparative analysis of the symbolic and esoteric patterns codified to the Judeao Christian Scriptures, the landscape of Jerusalem, Chartres Cathedral (stone and glass), Dante Alighieri’s La Divina Commedia (pen and ink), the Sistine Chapel (mosaics, paint and wet plaster) and Saint Peter’s Basilica (marble) the reader can determine for him or herself the efficacy of the esoteric science, which hails from the dawn of the time/space continuum as a direct missive from God.
The author discovered a relatively simple and yet extremely sophisticated mathematical and grammatical system of thought in ancient literature: the integration of the Seven Liberal Arts.” [. . .]    –William John Meegan’s website

See other Dante-related books by William John Meegan:

  • “The Secrets & the Mysteries of Genesis: Antiquity’s Hall of Records,” published by Trafford Publishers, 2003. Chapter 7 discusses Dante mathematics.
  • “The Conquest of Genesis: A Study in Universal Creation Mathematics,” published by the Edwin Mellen Press, 1997. This study analyzes the Commedia’s compositional structure and its sophisticated mathematical system.

“Dante to Dead Man Walking: One Reader’s Journey Through the Christian Classics” (2002)

dante-to-dead-man-walking-one-readers-journey-through-the-christian-classics-2002“What do the book of Genesis, the Second Inaugural Address, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X all have in common? According to author Raymond Schroth, they are all works worthy of being called classics of Christian literature. In Dante to Dead Man Walking, Schroth discusses fifty works–from books of the Old Testament to contemporary works of fiction and nonfiction–that challenge the social conscience and raise moral or religious issues in a provocative way.”    —Amazon, May 13, 2012

NY Times Review: “The Book of Books: What Literature Owes the Bible”

the-book-of-books-what-literature-owes-the-bible“The Bible is the model for and subject of more art and thought than those of us who live within its influence, consciously or unconsciously, will ever know. Literatures are self-referential by nature, and even when references to Scripture in contemporary fiction and poetry are no more than ornamental or rhetorical — indeed, even when they are unintentional — they are still a natural consequence of the persistence of a powerful literary tradition. . . Dante created his great image of divine intent, justice and grace as the architecture of time and being. Milton explored the ancient, and Calvinist, teaching that the first sin was a felix culpa, a fortunate fall, and providential because it prepared the way for the world’s ultimate reconciliation to God” [. . .]    –Marilynne Robinson, The New York Times, December 22, 2011

“The Classics as the Antidote to Modern Malaise”

dreyfus-and-kelly-all-things-shining“. . . Though brief, this is an ambitious book, offering insightful readings of authors including Homer, Dante, Descartes and Kant, as well as the novelists Herman Melville and David Foster Wallace. Mr. Dreyfus and Mr. Kelly believe that great books are the ‘gathering places’ where the major forces of a culture are focused, and so they are able to chart our descent from Homer’s gratitude before many gods to Wallace’s paralysis before a plethora of choices. . .
Great books are there to reconnect us. Mr. Dreyfus and Mr. Kelly admire Dante’s focus on the saving power of various forms of desire, but find that his ultimate emphasis on the overwhelming bliss of contemplating God ‘makes all other earthly joys irrelevant.’ Dante’s achievement turns out to be ‘not the answer to nihilism but another step in its direction.’ Similarly, the philosophical focus after Descartes and Kant is on the autonomous self as the basis for knowledge, but the authors explore how the idea of a human subject able to bestow meaning on inert objects winds up undermining our openness to the world.” [. . .]    –Michael Roth, The New York Times, January 3, 2011

A Christmas Present for Virgil

a-christimas-present-for-virgil
(source unknown – retrieved on December 5, 2010)

S.A. Alenthony, “The Infernova” (2009)

sa-alenthony-the-infernova-2009 “S.A. Alenthony’s The Infernova is the new book that. . . [turns] the classic vision of the Christian hell upside-down. Retelling the poem from an atheist’s perspective, the story parallels Dante’s descent through nine infamous circles where increasingly pernicious sinners endure their symbolic punishments. The upper circles house the minor offenders: those who lacked clarity or promoted fallacious arguments. The middle levels incarcerate those who preyed upon-and profited from-irrationality: paranormalists, conspiracy theorists, astrologers, and their ilk. Lower and yet darker realms are reserved for religion’s criminals, such as televangelist-frauds, pedophile-priests, and terrorists, while at the pit’s nadir reside the legions of the world’s prophets and a virtual menagerie of the countless gods born of their imaginations.
Dante was famously accompanied on his journey by his revered hero, the Roman poet Virgil. In The Infernova, it is the satirical and irreligious gadfly Mark Twain who takes the role of guide and companion. As their odyssey continues, the dangers of irrational and mystical thinking grow more clear, and their dialogues and encounters with hell’s residents provide a unique tableau on which to set out the arguments against supernaturalism.”    —Amazon

“A Mexican Tradition Runs on Pageantry and Faith”

a-mexican-tradition-runs-on-pageantry-and-faith“The Passion Play in Iztapalapa, Mexico, has a cast of thousands. The 50 or so main parts tend to remain within local families… The Roman Catholic Church’s attitude toward the play has fluctuated over the years. In the past, there were complaints that the script, which draws not only on the Bible but also on Dante’s Divine Comedy, deviated too much from sacred texts.” [. . .]    –Larry Rohter, The New York Times, April 11, 2009

Review of Susan Gubar, “Judas: A Biography” (2009)

review-of-susan-gubar-judas-a-biography-2009“In Judas: A Biography, Susan Gubar has amassed a long, grim and often nauseating catalog of the ways in which the Christian imagination has vented its wrath on the disciple who betrayed his master. . . The author of the medieval Golden Legend imagined Judas’s early life, which included killing his father and marrying his mother; an Arabic legend conjured an infant Judas obsessively biting himself. Medieval artists portrayed him as a slavering brute, deploying a racist arsenal of Jewish and African stereotypes to contrast him with the lily-white Jesus. No wonder that Dante placed Judas at the very bottom of the Inferno, where he is gnawed by Satan: ‘his head within and outside flails his legs.'” [. . .]    –Adam Kirsch, The New York Times, April 3, 2009

Matilde Asensi, “The Last Cato” (2007)

matilde-asensi-the-last-cato-2007Asensi’s first novel to be published in English features a clandestine religious organization, a code contained in the work of a long-dead genius, a plucky heroine, and just the right combination of obscure history and plausible conjecture. Sound familiar? The Last Cato will inevitably draw comparisons to The Da Vinci Code, but this book is in many ways more compelling, if a bit less accessible. After Dr. Ottavia Salina, a nun working as a paleographer at the Vatican, is asked to decipher tattoos on the dead body of an ‘enemy of the Church’ from Ethiopia, she soon discovers the deceased was tied up with the Staurofilakes, an ancient order who have sought to protect the True Cross and now seem to be stealing slivers of it from around the world. The key to tracking them down? Dante’s Divine Comedy. Turns out that Dante was a member of the order himself, and that the notoriously dense Divine Comedy is a kind of coded guidebook to the order’s rituals. Salina and a couple companions set off, with Dante as their guide, on a rollicking, round-the-world adventure. Some of the conjecture seems far-fetched, but the research is impeccable, and the behind-the-scenes Vatican life feels utterly authentic. As engrossing as it is intelligent, this just might be the next big book in the burgeoning religious thriller subgenre.”    –John Green, Booklist, Amazon

“The End of Limbo”

st-peters-rome-the-end-of-limbo“The Vatican announced on Friday the results of a papal investigation of the concept of limbo. Church doctrine now states that unbaptized babies can go to heaven instead of getting stuck somewhere between heaven and hell” [. . .]    –Michelle Tsai, Slate, April 23, 2007

Contributed by Zac Milner (Bowdoin, ’07)