Wednesday 5th of August 2020

god is a tired sitting down comedian...

Dante�s Hell...

The major work by Dante (Dante Alighieri) was originally simply titled Comedìa, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320. The word Divina was added by Giovanni Boccaccio and became divina commedia. The first printed edition to add the word divina to the title was that of the Venetian humanist Lodovico Dolce, published in 1555 by Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari.

For Gus, Dante was a satirist if one knows one.

Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.

A feature of satire is strong irony. ”In satire, irony is militant”

Dante’s Comedia is ironic. It is designed through various artifices, including the usage of Greek and Roman mythology, to pierce through the thick decorated coats of Christianity — especially the Catholic Church...

The Comedia was written after Dante was exiled from Florence by decree of Pope Boniface VIII, who had the anti-papal White Guelphs, a political party of which Dante was a member, expelled from the city. Followed a biting, analytical and scathingly political document, with a prevailing conviction that the early fourteenth century was a time in need of immediate divine remediation. At the time the pope was also trying to fight off the Holy Roman Empire based mostly in Germania. 

While a third of Comedia’s content is of Biblical inspiration, the remaining two thirds are a political satire that, considering the Medieval obsession with Greek and Roman literature, is little different from work of derivative fiction that might be produced today.

It must be noted that the Divina Commedia is a ‘comedy’ in the classical sense, where stories were defined as either comedy or tragedy. Comedia was written in the vulgar vernacular (Italian rather than latin), and the protagonist was better off at the end than he was at the beginning. This distinguishes it from the sad ending required of a tragedy. Looking at the text in the modern sense of the word, however, the word Comedia is an apt term — if it is taken to mean ‘political satire’.

Too many scholars though took it as a serious understanding of religious devotion. It’s not. The poem describes Dante’s travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise or Heaven; but at a deeper level, it represents, satirically, the soul’s journey towards a distant god that could not care less... At this deeper level, Dante draws on medieval Christian theology and philosophy, especially Thomistic philosophy and the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. Consequently, the Divine Comedy has been called “the Summa in verse”. But it’s not. It’s a “Comedia”. 

Every Renaissance man needed a wealthy patron, and many Italian artist-inventor-scholar-poets found theirs in Lorenzo de’Medici, scion of a Florentine dynasty and himself a scholar and poet. Lorenzo either sponsored directly or helped secure commissions for such 15th century art stars as Michelangelo Buonaroti and Leonardo da Vinci. Among Lorenzo’s many artist friends was a painter who mostly disappeared from history until the late nineteenth century, when the rediscovery of his Primavera and Birth of Venus made him one of the most popular of Renaissance artists. This was Sandro Botticelli, portraitist of Lorenzo de’Medici, his father, and grandfather and illustrator of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Botticelli also “painted” a portrait of Dante. A most famous simple painting that shows a traditional austere stern looking man, a bit like the Buster Keaton of his time.

Walter Pater, an English essayist, literary and art critic, and fiction writer, regarded as one of the great stylists wrote about Botticelli and Dante. Pater’s works on Renaissance subjects were popular but controversial, reflecting his lost belief in Christianity.

"So Just what Dante scorns as unworthy alike of heaven and hell, Boticelli accepts, that middle world in which men take no side in great conflicts, and decide no great causes, and make no great refusals. He thus sets for himself the limits within which art, undisturbed by any moral ambition, does its most sincere and surest work. His interest in neither in the untempered goodness of Angelico’s saints, nor in the untempered evil of Orcagna’s inferno; but with men and women, in their mixed and uncertain condition, always attractive, clothed sometimes by passion with a character of love and energy, but saddened perpetually by the shadow upon them of the great things from which they shrink. His morality is all sympathy; and it is this sympathy, conveying into his work somewhat more than his usual of the true complexion of humanity, which makes him, visionary as he is, so forcibly a realist”


Here Gus can say that in both travails, that of Dante and that of the numerous illustration of Comedia by Boticelli, god plays second fiddle — if He (god is a male) ever plays. The human condition is primarily the story and whether gods exists or not, is irrelevant. This is the elegant twist of Dante’s satire. Dante’s hell or heaven become figment of illusions designed to satisfy our need to imagine something as to why we feel pain — and die. 


Even as science tells us why, we still don’t want to accept the evolutionary constraints of natural life.


Gus leonisky

You local atheistic art historian.


Picture at top: detail of an illustration by Gustave Doré: Dante and Virgil, having crossed the Stygian lake, face the city of Dis. This is guarded by three hellish furies, stained in blood and female form. They are the Eumenides, or Furies, of Greek mythology.


Dante (attributed to Botticelli)...

Dante (attributed to Botticelli)

This portrait was painted in 1480-85, about 150 years after Dante's death (1321)...

yes, it's okay and not the first time...


Is it ok to make jokes about religion? What about extremism or terrorism?

Sami Shah is a comedian, former Muslim, author and ABC journalist. He says that where he comes from, the jokes never stop (because otherwise life would be too terrible to bear).

John Safran is also a comedian, author and a (moderately observant) Jew, who says comedy is a way of telling stories.

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now we know: there's no hell, except under US bombs...

“Pope Declares No Hell?”

So ran the riveting headline on the Drudge Report on Holy Thursday.

Drudge quoted this exchange, published in La Repubblica, between Pope Francis and his atheist friend, journalist Eugenio Scalfari.

Scalfari: “What about bad souls? Where are they punished?”

Bad souls “are not punished,” Pope Francis is quoted, “those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”

On the first Holy Thursday, Judas betrayed Christ. And of Judas the Lord said, “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man shall be betrayed; it were better for him if that man had never been born.”

Did the soul of Judas, and those of the monstrous evildoers of history, “just fade away,” as General MacArthur said of old soldiers? If there is no hell, is not the greatest deterrent to the worst of sins removed?

What did Christ die on the cross to save us from?

If Francis made such a statement, it would be rank heresy.

Had the pope been speaking ex cathedra, as the vicar of Christ on earth, he would be contradicting 2,000 years of Catholic doctrine, rooted in the teachings of Christ himself. He would be calling into question papal infallibility, as defined in 1870 by the Vatican Council of Pius IX.

Questions would arise as to whether Francis is a true pope.

The Vatican swiftly issued a statement saying the pope had had a private conversation, not a formal interview, with his friend Scalfari.


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The pope has atheist friends? Holy moses!:



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our father in heaven...

Our Father, Who art in heaven

Hallowed be Thy Name;

Here goes the neighbourhood… There is a dispute within the believers' ranks about the gender of god. Throughout my rabid explanations on this site that god does not exist, I tend to always add that "(god is a male)"… This is facetious but necessary as men have been controlling the god thingy to belittle women with subservient roles.
This is where a Methodist Church comes in — trying to salvage the furniture, yet muddling the whole concept:

Days after the United Methodist Church voted down an amendment to its Book of Discipline that would have said God is not "male or female," the denomination says there will be a revote as the text had an error.

The amendment that failed to pass on Monday was centred on gender equality, but a sentence "that should not have been included in the amendment was removed by a vote of 746–56" was "inadvertently included in the version that was distributed," the denomination said in a statement.

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On this subject, Wikipedia tells us that:

Although God is an intangible spirit in many religions and therefore is thought to have no gender, debate over their "actual" sex nevertheless has passionately raged in recent decades. The preponderance of references to God in both the Old and New Testaments are in the context of a masculine reference, often "Father". However, there are a significant number of feminine allegorical references to God, most often in some maternal role.

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In order to minimise the confusion, according to Gus-The-Atheist, the lord prayer should be:

Our Thingy, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;


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diagnostician of a diabolic age...


From Rod Dreher


I get that, I told her. There is nothing wrong with the artist as diagnostician of a diabolic age (“diabolic” in the sense of the antonym to “symbolic;” in other words, as separating and scattering what had been brought together). It is far better to have an artist who can recognize and tell the truth about his age than one who lives and works in denial. (In this sense, French novelist Michel Houllebecq is a valuable artist — more valuable than the many artists who have more formal literary skill).

What I wish for is artists who find a way to re-symbolize what is scattered and rendered meaningless. Those artists offer real hope, and life.

This is who Dante Alighieri was, and is. This is who he was to me, personally, as I tell in my book How Dante Can Save Your Life (electronic version is only 99 cents on Kindle, by the way).

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) lived and wrote in an age of corruption and dissolution. He was a victim of the tumult of the times. His exile from Florence, at the hands of his political enemies, including the Pope, took everything from him. His Divine Comedy is a peerless journey through the ruins of his own life, and of his civilization, and of rebirth through repentance and reconsecration.

Dante was ruthless in his diagnosis of the cancers eating away at his society — and he didn’t spare himself. The lashing he has Beatrice give him when they finally meet near the end of Purgatorio is breathtaking. 


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Gus is a fierce atheist...