Rod Dreher–Dante As Orthodox?

I noticed as I reviewed the final text for my Dante book how remarkably Orthodox it is. I never would have predicted this from a book about the greatest Catholic poet who ever lived, certainly not when I started writing… this phenomenon manifested itself in three main ways….

1. The role of asceticism in the process of salvation. Purgatorio is all about overcoming the passions, or tendencies toward sin, through the rigorous practice of asceticism. Note well: this is not about paying for your sins; that was done by Christ. It’s about retraining your heart to quit desiring evil and to desire good, which is to say, God. Purgatorio is an allegory for the Christian life in this world, which is a constant struggle with the passions. Reading Purgatorio was startling to me as a former Catholic, now Orthodox. I never heard this teaching as a Catholic, but hear it all the time as an Orthodox.

2. Theosis. Theosis is a Greek term meaning “deification.” It is the ultimate goal of each Christian’s life: to be absorbed into God. Theosis doesn’t begin in heaven, but begins right now ”” that is, the path to theosis, which is a process. You can always refuse the path, but if you’re not going towards heaven, you’re moving towards hell. Time is an escalator on which it is impossible to stand still. I had never heard of salvation explained as theosis until I became Orthodox. Dante’s Paradiso is entirely about theosis, to a degree that I think will shock Orthodox readers who have never read it. It’s not even disguised.

Read it all.


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