Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Put Dante in the game.

     Guys talk. And not everything we say, we want to share with the public, right? For instance. In Sunday's description of going to the Cubs game, I left out a certain digression of mine at the ballpark. Didn't seem germane. But it actually was germane, as you will see. The problem was, it's embarrassing.  A little. Okay. A lot.
     I started talking about Dante. At the ballgame. I was with book editors, remember, and the topic came to books I'd like to write someday, and I explained my theory that Dante is funny, in a wicked, Spy magazine sense, creating this hell and putting all his enemies in it. They nodded politely.
    It wasn't easy for Dante. It took some creativity, see? I continued. For instance. He was betrayed by Pope Boniface VIII. Whom he very much wanted to put in his newly-minted hell. But he couldn't, because the Inferno actually takes place at a certain time, over Easter weekend, 1300. And Boniface had not yet died. So trying to be faithful to the faux verisimilitude that lets people forget this is all something he made up, in the narrative, Dante, led by Virgil, comes to this hole, where the popes are kept, head down, their feet kicking, the red flames burning their feet a parody of their red papal slippers. And one pope hears a sound above, and says, "What, Boniface? Is that you? You're early?"
     Funny, right?
     Eventually I stopped. And no harm done, except perhaps two guys really, really sorry for whom they decided to invite to the game. My shame would have been hidden.
     Then a Facebook pal, Ann Hilton Fisher, alerted me to a program that begins tomorrow, that I have to alert you to: "100 Days of Dante," beginning Sept. 8 and running until Easter Sunday, they are reading three cantos of the Divine Comedy a week. Here's a story about it.
     I'm not endorsing the project en toto. And if you watch the video, you'll see they slip in that the Divine Comedy is "which has taught generation of people a deeper way to love God." That's one take. It could also better rationalize apostasy. It's put together by a consortium of American Christian universities, who are not famous for the range of their intellectual scope, and the lead organization is Baylor University, the Waco Texas Baptist school. For all I know, it's a thinly disguised 100-day orgy of anti-Catholicism, which Baylor was once known for. Though I hope not.
    The 700th anniversary of Dante's death is Sept. 14, and we have to do something, right? I plan to at least tune in until I have reason to drop out, and figure you might want to join me.


  1. Cubs are on a winning streak and you attended one of the games, you may be the reason. As long as they keep winning you can talk about Dante all day at the game. You two are good luck.

  2. Dante is definitely "THE man" -- but 've always had a crush on Virgil :)

  3. "Funny, right?" Yes. Not "reread a 300-page 14th-Century Italian poem" funny, but funny. I imagine in the EGD universe, this remark will place me in the sixth circle? ; )

    This 100 days project is certainly interesting, though, I must admit, and I understand why you're intrigued by it. I doubt that it's an "orgy of anti-Catholicism" with the folks from Gonzaga and Dallas, 2 Catholic universities, onboard...

  4. I hope this isn't obnoxious, but I'm just struck by the irony of our blogmeister, a Jewish agnostic, posting this on Rosh Hashanah. Particularly since, as you alluded to, someone in the linked article (from a religious website) states “We really want to emphasize the idea of the poem as a Christian epic, one that is informed by Christianity and one that can inform Christians with its wisdom, even in 2021”

    That being said, Happy New Year! : )

  5. Underline “agnostic” in your comment and the irony isn’t so great. Wajja expect, apples and honey?

    1. Kinda did, yeah. If only for all the Steinbergs and machatunim on whose shoulders you stand. Good Yuntov!

    2. One of the many appealing features of EGD is that one never knows *what* to expect.


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