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Dante the Christian Unifier

From an essay I have on Patheos today, talking about how Dante and his Divine Comedy can serve as a point of Christian unity [1] for Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox:

So a Catholic poet, an Orthodox priest, and a Southern Baptist therapist walk into a bar…

It sounds like the set-up for a theology joke, but (minus the bar) this is the oddball team God sent to rescue me from the dark wood in which I was trapped a couple of years ago. The amazing experience taught me a lesson in how Christian brothers can work together, across time and traditions, to help each other walk the road to our Father’s house.


Christians today live in a time of chaos and trial for the church, but one of this era’s blessings is how we Christians are working together across our divisions, and learning to see things of value in other traditions. In particular, the world of classical Christian education has opened the minds of many contemporary believers to the wisdom of the pre-modern Christian past.

Dante Alighieri stands near a hinge point in Christian history. He is close enough to the 1054 schism cleaving East and West so that strong echoes of Eastern Christianity can still be resoundingly heard in his poem today. And he writes as a Western Christian in the twilight of the European church’s unity, before many of the very things he excoriates in his symphonic hymn to the glory of God would shatter the bonds of fellowship forever. I believe that Dante can serve as a figure of unity and a source of fellowship for all believers today.

Read the whole thing. [1] This morning I was reading more in Robert Louis Wilken’s history of the early church — the chapter on the iconoclastic controversy, and how the church affirmed the Incarnation by affirming the value of images — and I thought, wow, this is all in Dante. 

Pre-order How Dante Can Save Your Life [2], willya? Your spiritual life will be better for it. So will your Sunday School or catechism classes. Eric Metaxas [3] says, “Sometimes a book comes along that you want to press into the hands of everyone you know. A brilliant, searingly honest account of one man’s path to real healing, and an invitation to the rest of us to join him.”

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5 Comments To "Dante the Christian Unifier"

#1 Comment By CSR On April 1, 2015 @ 2:36 pm

Rod — PBAU in WPB may be intersted in having you come to speak. Send me an email if you’d like to explore it — or if there is someone else at your publisher who is handling the book tour, please send me his or her contact info. Cheers, and best of luck!

#2 Comment By Aaron Paolozzi On April 1, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

I pre-ordered it because of your article yesterday, the one talking about Ancestor Worship and Honor Culture because that speaks to my family, and me, so much. So +1 to your arguments for the book =)

#3 Comment By DougW On April 1, 2015 @ 8:43 pm

Do you know why Amazon claims the book will not be delivered until May 15 when it’s released on April 14? Might have to switch back to the kindle version, but you made the physical book look so beautiful.

[NFR: Yeah, I’m aware of that, and let my publisher know. We’re trying to get to the bottom of it. I don’t think that is a real date. I’ll keep you updated. Thanks for ordering my book. It really is a beautiful thing. It’s fun to watch people examine the one copy I have here at the house, and to listen to them gasp. — RD]

#4 Comment By M_Young On April 1, 2015 @ 9:52 pm

I’m posting here just to show that I read and comment on other than racial/homosexual marriage stuff and that the sh*tstorm in Indiana didn’t suck all the air out of the room.

#5 Comment By Darth Thulhu On April 2, 2015 @ 5:37 am

Work has a “100 Club”, awarded to people who successfully hand-sell 100 copies of something in a given 365-day period.

I’ve asked for the right to make How Dante my next 100 Club item. I think it will be a work I can passionately advocate.