A Profound Meditation on Hell

When I had journeyed half of our life’s way, I found myself within a shadowed forest, for I had lost the path that does not stray …’

“So opens the 14th-century poem Divina Comedia (The Divine Comedy) by Dante Alighieri.

“The blurb on the back cover of a new book, Spiritual Direction From Dante: Avoiding the Infernoby Oratorian Father Paul Pearson, tells its readers that no prior knowledge of the celebrated text is necessary to appreciate or enjoy its riches: “Reading Dante not required!” That is because Father Pearson gives an excellent explanation of the poem, and both its cultural and spiritual significance, in just over 300 pages.

“Fusing practical advice about how to live one’s Christian vocation with a piece of high art from the Middle Ages is not an easy thing to do. Father Pearson carries it off superbly, and while doing so, he gives the reader a fresh appreciation of Divina Comedia.

“The structure of the book is a straightforward journey through the 34 cantos that make up the first part of the poem, namely, Inferno (hell). For anyone unfamiliar with Divina Comedia, this epic poem recounts how Dante, accompanied by the pagan poet Virgil, journeys through the many circles of hell, purgatory and then heaven.” […]    –K.V. Turley, National Catholic Register, June 8, 2019

Tina Turner and Dante Alighieri

In an interview with the New York Times Book Review, Tina Turner mentioned Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy in her answers to Jillian Tamaki’s literary questions.

Ms. Turner on the Divine Comedy as a book she can read again and again:

“In 2017, my kidneys were failing and I went through a prolonged period of dialysis. Every time I went to the clinic, I brought the same three books with me: The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra, the Divine Comedy, by Dante, and a book of photography by the extraordinary Horst P. Horst. I needed something for the spirit, something for the intellect and something for the senses, and the ritual of studying the same books while I was undergoing treatment was comforting to me because it imposed order on a situation I couldn’t otherwise control.” [. . .]

Ms. Turner on Dante as her first-choice guest for her literary dinner party:

“I like a dinner party to be a lively mixture of different kinds of people — young, old and everything in between. So my first choice would be Dante — after all my years of studying the Divine Comedy, I need to ask him a lot of questions! I could be his Beatrice! Since I can’t choose between Anne Rice and Stephen King, I’d set places for both of them. Their books have kept me awake for many a night because there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good scare! And I’d definitely serve Thai food, because I like things spicy.” [. . .]    –Tina Turner interviewed by Jillian Tamaki, the New York Times Book Review, October 18, 2018.

You can read the full interview on the New York Times.

Daily Dante Blog

“Welcome to Daily Dante, a blogging adventure that follows the pilgrim Dante through his journey to hell and back, as we savor the poet Dante’s masterpiece The Divine Comedy.

Daily-Dante-Lenten-Spiritual-Discipline-BlogDaily Dante is a collaborative blog, written by a motley band of Dantophiles living in the Princeton, NJ area. We began during Lent of 2010, when we adopted blogging as a Lenten discipline: a canto a day (excepting Sundays, which technically do not count as Lent), which conveniently allowed us to finish more or less just before Easter. We have completed Inferno, and Purgatorio, and finished blogging through Paradiso during Lent 2012.” — homepage of Daily Dante: Dante as Lenten Spiritual Discipline

 

Kayleen Asbo, The Soul’s Flame: A Musical Reflection of Dante’s Worlds

kayleenIn his epic poem the Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri weaves Greek and Roman mythology, Italian history, and Christian legacy into a map that charts the journey of the human spirit from the depths of despair to the heights of beauty and love. In observance of the Lenten season, and in honor of the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth, Numina Center for Spirituality and the Arts presents an experience of music, art, and story that emphasizes the profound, universal elements of Dante’s vision. We follow in the footsteps of his quest in Purgatorio for hope, healing, and community.

This journey of hope and forgiveness begins at 5pm, with cultural historian Kayleen Asbo presenting art and story that charts Dante’s path through the Purgatorio. At 6pm, medieval music specialists Shira Kammen and Devi Mathieu, joined by Michelle Levy and the Dante Singers, present a program of music to lead us on that journey.

With music drawn from the medieval era and beyond, our journey crosses the boundaries of time, culture, and spirituality. The program features some of the most renowned pieces from the Middle Ages, with emphasis on works referenced in Dante’s poetry. Selections range from Gregorian plainchant and Hildegard of Bingen, to Carmina Burana and Cantigas de Santa Maria. The journey honors the common roots of all the traditions that trace their origins to the prophet Abraham by including songs and chants from Christian, Sufi, and Jewish traditions.

Philip Jonckheer will narrate our adventure. Audience members will have the opportunity to join in some of the chanting.

February 21, 5pm
Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, 550 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa CA
Suggested donation $25 at the door only
See: Numinia Center for Spirituality & The Arts