Resist President Donald Trump


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Another President Trump Lie: “Obamacare Doesn’t Work”



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Anonymous Sources: Modern-Day Heroes


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“The answer to attacks on journalism is always more journalism” — Josh Marshall


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Dr. Michael Gregor: What are the Healthiest Foods? (YouTube; 5:17)

Dr. Michael Gregor: What are the Healthiest Foods? (YouTube; 5:17)

Executive Summary: Eat veggies and other whole plants.

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Dante’s Purgatory: Canto 25 Retelling — Seventh Ledge — Lust (Body-Soul Relationship)

Chapter 25: Seventh Ledge — Lust (Body-Soul Relationship) (Purgatory)

The time was around 2 p.m., and the three poets started climbing the stairs to the next ledge: the ninth of nine ledges. They walked in single file because of the narrowness of the stairs, and they did not waste time.

Dante wanted to speak. He wanted to ask a question that had been occupying his mind for a long time: ever since he had seen the emaciated saved souls of ledge six. He began to speak, changed his mind, and was silent.

Virgil, however, as always, knew his thoughts, and encouraged Dante to speak.

Dante asked, “Why are the saved souls on ledge six so emaciated? These souls are purging the sin of gluttony, but why are they so emaciated? After all, souls do not need food and drink.”

Virgil said, “Think of two analogies, and they will help you to understand the answer to your questions.

“First think of the myth of Meleager. When he was born, his mother learned from the Fates that Meleager would live only as long as a piece of wood that was then burning in the fireplace would remain unburned. His mother, Althaea, grabbed the piece of wood, put the fire out, and put the piece of wood in a safe place. Meleager grew up and became a warrior and a hero. When the goddess Diana sent a boar to ravage Calydon, Meleager led a band of heroes to hunt the dangerous boar. Eventually, he was able to kill it. He presented the hide to Atalanta, with whom he was in love, but his uncles — his mother’s brothers — stole the hide from her. Outraged, Meleager killed his uncles. When his mother learned of her brothers’ deaths, she put the half-burned piece of wood in a fire, and Meleager died as the piece of wood burned. In this myth, two things — Meleager and a piece of wood — are very different but are closely related, and when something happens to the first of the pair, it affects the second of the pair.

“In addition, think of a mirror. It reflects every movement of the person in front of it. The mirror and the person are very different, but one thing imitates perfectly every movement of the other thing.

“But Statius can answer your question in more detail.”

Statius said to Virgil, “As you request, I will explain to him things he does not know. I have too much respect for you to deny your request.”

Then Statius said to Dante, “As you know, the year is 1300. Science has barely made a beginning, and some of what you ‘know’ is incorrect. As I am in the afterlife, I can see ahead into at least part of the future, and I know that science will make great increases in what Humankind knows. Science will be one of the greatest accomplishments of Humankind.

“Let me explain some things to you, using a little science but also using religion. Each can reveal truth. I will explain to you how a baby acquires a soul, and I will explain to you the aerial body: the body you see when you look at me or Virgil or any soul.

“Conception occurs when a human male deposits semen into the womb of a human woman who is ready to have a baby. The first part of the soul becomes present. We can call this the vegetative part: it takes nourishment and it grows. The fetus grows, and it begins to move. The second part of the soul becomes present. We can call this the sensitive part: it uses its senses such as the sense of touch and it moves. At the time of quickening, when the fetus can be felt moving in the womb, God breathes the third part of the soul into the fetus. We can call this the intellective part: it can contemplate itself and it can think. With this third part present, the soul is complete. The Spanish philosopher Averroës erred by denying the third part of the soul, which gives it immortality.

“When the body dies, the soul is freed, and it goes either to the Inferno or to the Mountain of Purgatory. The soul retains memory, intelligence, and will, but it lacks its vegetative and sensitive parts until it acquires its aerial body, which is formed from the air around it. This aerial body is visible, and it is often called a ‘shade.’ This aerial body can move and it has all five senses. The aerial body can speak, and it can laugh, and it can cry, and it can sigh. The aerial body also reflects the feelings of the soul: it changes with those feelings. Thus, if the soul is hungry, the aerial body can take on the appearance of emaciation. This should answer your question. My words also explain how you are able to see the souls you have seen in the Inferno and on the Mountain of Purgatory.

“Let me summarize a few main points of Christian doctrine:

“First, God directly creates the human soul.

“Second, each body is given a soul.

“Third, body and soul, joined, become one unified person.

“Fourth, even after the death of the body, the soul continues to exist.”

The three poets continued walking and reached the next ledge. Then they saw a fire. Only a narrow space along the edge of the ledge was without fire. The three poets had to walk in that space in single file.

Dante was terrified by the narrowness of the path left to walk on. On one side was the fire; on the other side was air and no solid ground to walk on.

Virgil told Dante, “Be sure to walk on the narrow path. This is a place where it is easy to make a misstep.”

Then the three poets heard a song — “Summae Deus Clementiae” or “God of Supreme Clemency” — that asked God to banish lustful thoughts and to cleanse the sinner with healing fire:

“Great God of boundless mercy hear;

“You Ruler of this earthly sphere;

“In substance one, in Persons three,

“Dread Trinity in Unity!

“Do You in love accept our lays

“Of mingled penitence and praise;

“And set our hearts from error free,

“More fully to rejoice in You.

“Our reins and hearts in pity heal,

“And with Your chastening fire anneal;

“Gird You our loins, each passion quell,

“And every harmful lust expel.

“Now as our anthems, upward borne,

“Awake the silence of the morn,

“Enrich us with Your gifts of grace,

“From Heaven, Your blissful dwelling place!

“Hear You our prayer, Almighty King;

“Hear You our praises, while we sing,

“Adoring with the Heavenly host

“The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

The song was coming from the fire. Dante looked and saw souls walking in the fire. He made sure that he stayed on the narrow path.

When the souls had sung the entire hymn, they shouted, “Virum non cognosco.”

Dante thought, This is an example of the virtue of Chastity. As always on the Mountain of Purgatory, the first example of a virtue comes from the life of Mary. When the angel told Mary that she would give birth to the Savior, she replied, “Virum non cognosco” or in English “I know not man.” In other words, she was a virgin. Of course, she did as God willed and although she was a virgin, she gave birth.

The souls in the fire sang the hymn again, and then they called, “Diane banished Helice.”

Dante thought, Diana is the Roman name of the Greek goddess Artemis, who was one of the three virgin Greek goddesses. The other virgin goddesses are Minerva and Vesta. Diana was a militant virgin. When Jupiter seduced one of her attendants, the nymph Helice, Diana dismissed her. Helice gave birth to Arcas. Juno was Jupiter’s jealous wife. She turned Helice into a she-bear, and Jupiter placed her into a constellation: Ursa Major. “Ursa Major” means “Big Bear” or “Great Bear.”

Again, the souls sang the hymn, and then they praised virtuous husbands and wives.

Dante thought, These couples refrained from having coercive sex. In addition, they refrained from having affairs. These couples are not virgins. Certainly, married couples are allowed to have sex with each other. It is a heresy to believe that proper sex is sinful. Used properly, sex is far from sinful and is one of the great pleasures of life. After all, God invented sex.

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce

This is an excerpt from Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Retelling in Prose by David Bruce, available here:

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Download free eBooks, including books for teachers, by David Bruce here:

Romance Books by Brenda Kennedy (Some Free)

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Dante’s Purgatory: Canto 24 Retelling — Sixth Ledge — Gluttony (Bonagiunta da Lucca)

Chapter 24: Sixth Ledge — Gluttony (Bonagiunta da Lucca) (Purgatory)

The conversation of Dante and Forese Donati did not slow down their journey. They walked as they talked, and their speed was like that of a ship with favorable winds.

The saved souls marveled at Dante because they knew that he cast a shadow and was a living man.

Continuing to answer Forese’s question about the souls who were traveling with him, Dante said, “And this second soul could travel much faster up the mountain, but he is acting courteously as a companion to us.

“But please, tell me, where is the soul of Piccarda, your sister? Also, among these souls, is there anyone I should know?”

Forese answered Dante’s first question: “Piccarda, my sister, is already enjoying Paradise. She was both virtuous and beautiful.”

Then he answered Dante’s second question: “I can name the souls here — no reason not to.”

Dante thought, In the Inferno, souls in the lower circles did not want to be named. They did not want their names — and deeds! — to be remembered in the Land of the Living. Here in Purgatory, souls do not mind being named.

Forese pointed out several souls and named them: “Here is Bonagiunta Orbicciani of Lucca, a poet who was fond of drinking wine.

“Here is Pope Martin IV, who too much enjoyed eating too much of his meals of Lake Bolsena eels, which he ordered to be stewed in wine.

“Here is Ubaldino della Pila, a great entertainer and a great feaster. His son is in the Inferno. You may have seen him as you journeyed through Hell: he is the Archbishop Ruggieri, and Ugolino is gnawing his scalp. Another of his relatives is entombed with Farinata in the circle of the heretics. Ubaldino once played host — for months — to the Pope and entertained and fed him and his entourage lavishly.”

Dante thought, Your family does not determine where you end up in the afterlife. The same family can have damned souls and saved souls.

Forese continued, “Here is Boniface de’ Fieschi of Genova, a wealthy Archbishop of Ravenna who fed his entourage feasts but neglected to feed the multitudes spiritual food.”

Dante thought, Both Ubaldino della Pila and Boniface de’ Fieschi of Genova are so hungry that I see them before me trying to bite the air.

Forese finished, “Here is Milord Marchese, a member of the Argogliosi family. When people complained that he did nothing but drink wine, he said that he was always thirsty. Now he is thirstier.”

Dante looked around. One soul in particular seemed to want to speak to him: Bonagiunta Orbicciani of Lucca. Dante thought that he heard him say softly the name of a woman: “Gentucca.”

Dante said to Bonagiunta, “Soul, you seem to want to speak to me. Please speak so that I may better hear you.”

Bonagiunta said, “Let me prophesy to you. A woman has been born who, still not yet married, will soon give care to you and cause you to praise the city I was from in the Land of the Living, although that city is now reviled. Remember this prophecy. If it is not clear now, it will be clear later when it occurs.”

Virgil thought, This is a prophecy of Dante’s upcoming exile from Florence, about which other souls will tell him more clearly later and which he will experience soon.

Bonagiunta continued, “But aren’t you the poet who wrote a poem in the new style, a poem that began, “Ladies who have knowledge of love”?

Virgil thought, Lots of poets are present now. We wrote in various languages. I wrote in Latin, but these poets wrote in vernacular Italian. In addition, we wrote various kinds of poetry in various styles. I wrote epic poetry, Forese wrote comic poetic insults, and other poets, including Dante, wrote love poetry. In addition, Dante wrote in a sweet new style in which Bonagiunta did not write. Dante has something to learn here, or he would not be on this ledge having this conversation with this particular poet.

Statius read me, and he learned something from me that I did not know was in my own work. Statius learned enough from me that he was able to decide to become a Christian. Perhaps Dante will be able to learn something from these vernacular poets who wrote love poetry. Perhaps, like Statius did from me, Dante will be able to learn from these vernacular poets something about Christianity as well as about poetry.

The poem Bonagiunta mentioned is a different poem from the poem that Casella attempted to sing in Prepurgatory. That poem was a silly love song. The poem Bonagiunta mentioned marks an important shift not just in style, but in content. In this newer poem, Dante says that he realizes that his happiness lies not in love games but in praising Beatrice. This is a different, more spiritual kind of love.

Not all kinds of love are good. Remember Francesca da Rimini in the Inferno? Passionate and adulterous love got her an eternal residence in the Inferno. She blamed her problems on lots of things, including a book about an adulterous love affair between Queen Guinever and Sir Lancelot. Some kinds of love and some kinds of writing about love can be bad.

When Dante returns to the Land of the Living, he must be careful to write about love carefully and accurately. Perhaps Dante needs to Christianize the love he writes about. Statius was able to read me and Christianize my Fourth Eclogue. Perhaps Dante needs to Christianize his love poetry when he writes new poetry after he returns to the Land of the Living.

Dante replied to Bonagiunta, “I am a poet who, when Love inspires me, pays attention and writes down what I have learned.”

Dante thought, This is true. I have learned and advanced as a poet. The poem that Casella wanted to sing in Prepurgatory is much earlier and much worse than the poem that Bonagiunta just mentioned. The poem that Casella wanted to sing appeared in Convivio, an early work of mine. The poem that Bonagiunta mentioned just now appeared in Vita Nuova, a more recent work of mine. Maybe when I return to the Land of the Living, I can write an even better work. Maybe I can write about the love of God, both the love He has for us and the love that good people have for Him.

Bonagiunta said, “Now I see what I was missing when I wrote poetry. My poetry never reached the high level that your poetry has achieved. My lack of paying close attention to Love held me back, and it held back poets like me. If I had continued learning, I could have written better about Love and I could have written better poetry.”

The emaciated saved souls, except for Forese, left Dante, Virgil, and Statius, seeming to take off like birds.

Forese was like a runner who, tired, slowed down and let the other runners pass him. Forese asked Dante, “When will we meet again?”

Dante replied, “When I return to the Land of the Living, I do not know how long I shall stay there. Even if I die soon thereafter, my heart will already have reached this island because Florence loses virtue each day and is ruining itself.”

Forese said, “Here is one good thing that will happen soon. The worst citizen of Florence will end up in the Inferno. The justice that is in Paradise will make itself known. If you do not understand me now, you will later.”

Virgil thought, This is a prophecy about Forese’s brother, Corso Donati. He is the leader of the Black Guelfs in Florence, and he will persuade Pope Boniface VIII to send Charles of Valois to Florence to kick out the White Guelfs. Corso will be responsible for Dante’s upcoming exile. Corso was also cruel to Piccarda, his sister. She entered a nunnery to serve God, but he forced her to leave the nunnery and marry someone who would help Corso achieve his political goals. Corso will attempt to gain complete control over Florence, but the Black Guelfs will stop him and condemn him to death. Corso will attempt to escape, but the Black Guelfs will kill him during the escape attempt.

One’s family does not determine where one ends up in the afterlife. Of the Donati family, Piccarda is in Paradise, Forese is climbing the Mountain of Purgatory, and Corso will end up in the Inferno.

Forese continued, “Now it is time for me to leave you. We have spoken a long time, and time is precious to souls who are purging their sins.”

Forese then quickly left, running after the other emaciated saved souls.

Dante walked with Virgil and Statius. Before them soon appeared another tree that had fruit. The emaciated saved souls were under the tree, arms reaching high, asking for fruit, but being denied. Eventually, the souls gave up and continued their journey on the ledge.

The three poets came close to the tree, and a voice came from among its leaves, saying, “Don’t stop walking. Don’t come close. At the top of the mountain is a tree, and the tree you see here is an offshoot of that higher tree.”

Dante, Virgil, and Statius stayed close to the cliff and passed the tree.

As they passed the tree, the voice called out examples of gluttony: “At the wedding of Pirithous and Hippodamia, the Centaurs got drunk and tried to rape the bride and other women at the wedding. Theseus and the Lapithae defended the women and killed many Centaurs.

“Gideon had many soldiers. When they arrived at a river, they were very thirsty. Gideon, following the advice of God, watched his soldiers. Some put their faces in the water and drank greedily. This was a mistake because they were not on the lookout for danger. Other, more cautious, soldiers cupped the water in their hands and brought the water up to their faces, thus remaining vigilant. Gideon led these vigilant soldiers to victory.”

The three poets continued walking, and suddenly heard a voice: “You three who are alone, what are you thinking?”

The voice came from a fiery-red angel who had noticed that three figures were walking together in a place where saved souls gathered in much larger groups.

The angel said to them, “If you are looking for the way up, here it is. This is the path used by those who seek peace.”

The brilliance of the angel blinded Dante. By using the sense of sound, he followed Virgil and Statius.

The angel touched Dante’s forehead and erased another of the P’s, leaving just one remaining. Dante smelled something sweet, and he heard these words that were spoken by the angel: “Blessed are they who hunger after righteousness instead of after excessive amounts of food.”

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce

This is an excerpt from Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Retelling in Prose by David Bruce, available here:

Check out the rest of

Download free eBooks, including books for teachers, by David Bruce here:

Romance Books by Brenda Kennedy (Some Free)

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