From Uncle Chuckie, the Patriarch of Cosimanian Orthodoxy. It really is hard to imagine any review of How Dante Can Save Your Life meaning more to me personally than this one. I’m actually not kidding. Excerpt:
It is easy to dislike Rod. I certainly did when I first read his blog on Beliefnet. He came across as a reincarnation of Cotton Mather. And no doubt he repaid the compliment wondering how he had managed to attract this inhuman monster. But years have a way of sanding down the rough surfaces and the illness and death of his sister were a veritable belt sander. In this book he tells of one exchange where his sister calls him “holier than thou.” He was taken aback by it but his sister was right. He was! And in the beliefnet days I took great pleasure in poking holes in that holiness. But with time a funny thing happened. We got used to each other. He found that he could joke about me and I would not get mad. I enjoyed it. And I would joke back. This puzzles some close friends of mine who cannot understand why I like his blog so much. It is not just that I have a soft spot for lunatics, and Rod can do a good imitation of a lunatic at times, but I’ve seen the man in his writings and the change in the man.
This book is the culmination of that change and the story of it. Join Dante on his trip. You will not find everything to your liking. You will find things that you cannot accept. But that is ok. Take what is given as you find use for it and discard what you cannot.
And now a bit of a personal afterword. Rod was so moved by his experience that last year he made a pilgrimage to Florence and the surrounding countryside, visiting all the Dante sites. I, of course, had to make a joke that he should visit the spot where they burned Savonarola and to my surprise he did, and when he did, he remembered to say a prayer for me, an act he repeated later. I have friends, who not understanding, would be offended at that. They are foolish. Rod could have given me, the Terrible Uncle Chuckie, no greater gift. Not that I am likely to convert or anything, but the fact that he saw fit to remember me at what for him was the pilgrimage of his life, giving thanks to the man, long dead, for saving his life.
And so now I return the favor. Thank you Dante, not only for your poem, but for keeping Rod alive.
Thank you, Uncle Chuckie. You made me happy.
I really do pray for Uncle Chuckie. I always assumed my prayers bounced off his psionics helmet, but this review is evidence that they get through sometimes. Heh.