How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History's Greatest Poem
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The opening lines of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri launched Rod Dreher on a journey that rescued him from exile and saved his life. Dreher found that the medieval poem offered him a surprisingly practical way of solving modern problems.
Following the death of his little sister and the publication of his New York Times bestselling memoir The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Dreher found himself living in the small community of Starhill, Louisiana where he grew up. But instead of the fellowship he hoped to find, he discovered that fault lines within his family had deepened. Dreher spiraled into depression and a stress-related autoimmune disease. Doctors told Dreher that if he didn’t find inner peace, he would destroy his health. Soon after, he came across The Divine Comedy in a bookstore and was enchanted by its first lines, which seemed to describe his own condition.
In the months that followed Dante helped Dreher understand the mistakes and mistaken beliefs that had torn him down and showed him that he had the power to change his life. Dreher knows firsthand the solace and strength that can be found in Dante’s great work, and distills its wisdom for those who are lost in the dark wood of depression, struggling with failure (or success), wrestling with a crisis of faith, alienated from their families or communities, or otherwise enduring the sense of exile that is the human condition.
Inspiring, revelatory, and packed with penetrating spiritual, moral, and psychological insights How Dante Can Save Your Life is a book for people, both religious and secular, who find themselves searching for meaning and healing. Dante told his patron that he wrote his poem to bring readers from misery to happiness. It worked for Rod Dreher. Dante saved Rod Dreher’s life—and in this book, Dreher shows you how Dante can save yours.
a table in the church rectory, talking about love. “You are receiving something you weren’t in a position to use before, or even to receive,” he continued. “I think your investment in your spiritual growth within this mission is paying off. You have started to turn off your intellect to some degree, and are opening up your heart.” I was startled to hear that—and pleased. This was the fruit of following the Church’s disciplines and living a more committed life in the Church than I ever had done
had ever happened to me—or, as it turned out, to her. We went to dinner that night, and out for a late coffee on Saturday. We spent Sunday together, and had our first kiss in the parking lot of Waterloo Records. Three days later, me back at my job in Florida and her in Austin, we were emailing, talking about marriage. It was crazy. But we both knew. Four months later, after only a few weekends spent together but many, many emails and phone calls, I flew to Austin and, kneeling in a chapel in
why,” I said sharply. “I have told you over and over, and you don’t want to accept it.” “Don’t fuss at me,” she said. “I feel like I’m trapped in the middle here. I love all of y’all, and want to see my family together.” “Mama, don’t you think I do too?” I said. “We moved here to be together. But there is not a damn thing more we can do to make that happen.” She fell silent. I felt guilty for speaking so harshly to her. But in the next moment I was angry at myself for the guilt. It was an
outdoorsy family. To my father, that was a distinction without a difference. The world of books and the imagination was more important to me than the mundane world I actually inhabited. On Sunday afternoons in the late fall, Daddy would load the family in the car and cruise the country back roads looking for deer. “Get your head out of that book,” he would inevitably bark at me in the back seat. To him, preferring the world of ideas to the natural world was no mere aberration on my part. It was
sinner In each mouth, tormenting three at once. [Inferno XXXIV:46–57] The Beast’s legs are as big as redwood trees, and covered with ice-encrusted hair. In the final verses of Inferno, Dante and Virgil climb down the enormous flanks of the Beast and keep going until they emerge on the other side of the world, into the light of a new day. It is near sunrise on Easter Sunday morning. Dante can see a few stars remaining in the dawn sky above. The pilgrim has descended into the deepest recesses