I just added a little sidebar to this blog called Current Reads. Depending on how interesting/challenging/whatever the books are, I may offer a brief review. Even if I don’t, I’ll share what I’m currently reading. Generally, I read a few books at a time, generally at least one fiction, one non-fiction and whatever the current selection is for our small group, Dead Theologians Society.
I just finished Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. Nine hundred plus pages of poetry and endnotes. Whew. If you’re not familiar with the work, it is divided into three books—The Inferno (Hell), The Purgatorio (Purgatory) and The Paradiso (Heaven) and follows the author’s fictional trek through each of the possible afterlives. The Inferno is often required reading in English classes and for good reason. It is fascinating, bleak and vivid. Dante's hierarchy of punishments is the most famous aspect of this book and perhaps the most interesting. The punishment fits the crime, as they say, and often dark comically. The Purgatorio and The Paradiso aren't quite as spellbinding, unfortunately, though Paradiso has some poignant moments.
Though a classic and worth wading through, you'll likely find yourself skimming through the allusions to myriad Italians, both blessed and condemned. I have to wonder how well Dante got along with some of his countrymen after drafts of The Divine Comedy came out. Perhaps, as in Purgatory, some offered supplication to him for a favorable portrayal.
It was interesting to ponder Purgatory. I am not a Roman Catholic and find nothing in Scripture to suggest the existence of such a place. I have to say that it's fairly depressing, this strict regimen of prayers and penance. Those with praying friends might get sprung early but those without are out of luck. It diminishes Christ's sacrifice. His death PLUS a few years bearing a millstone will get us into Heaven? On this Good Friday, I have to say that His sacrifice for us was enough.