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The Life-Changing Wisdom of History's Greatest Poem

Co-Sponsored by the Anselm Society, Woodmen Valley Chapel, and New Life Downtown

The opening lines of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri launched Rod Dreher on a journey that rescued him from exile and saved his life. Dreher found that the medieval poem offered him a surprisingly practical way of solving modern problems.

Following the death of his little sister and the publication of his New York Times bestselling memoir The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Dreher found himself living in the small community of Starhill, Louisiana where he grew up. But instead of the fellowship he hoped to find, he discovered that fault lines within his family had deepened. Dreher spiraled into depression and a stress-related autoimmune disease. Doctors told Dreher that if he didn’t find inner peace, he would destroy his health. Soon after, he came across The Divine Comedy in a bookstore.

In the months that followed, Dante helped Dreher understand the mistakes and mistaken beliefs that had torn him down and showed him that he had the power to change his life. Dreher knows firsthand the solace and strength that can be found in Dante’s great work, and distills its wisdom for those who are lost in the dark wood of depression, struggling with failure (or success), wrestling with a crisis of faith, alienated from their families or communities, or otherwise enduring the sense of exile that is the human condition.


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Sometimes a book comes along that you want to press into the hands of everyone you know. [Rod’s book is] a brilliant, searingly honest account of one man’s path to real healing, and an invitation to the rest of us to join him.
— Eric Metaxas, New York Times bestselling author of Miracles and Bonhoeffer

About the Speaker

Rod Dreher is nationally famous as a "localist" and proponent of Christians creating communities that stand as a beacon of hope to the world around them. His new book on Dante is absolutely wonderful, and keeps getting better as it goes. It's a privilege to have him here to talk with us.

Rod is a senior editor at The American Conservative and the author of How Dante Can Save Your Life, Crunchy Cons, and The Little Way of Ruthie Leming. His work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Post, the Dallas Morning News, National Review, First Things, and the Wall Street Journal, and broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered and BBC Radio. He lives in St. Francisville, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children.

About the 2015-16 Series

Longing is a common theme among American Christians. 

  • Some of us snap up the new "life-changing" book that's hit the market each year (Purpose Driven Life, Daniel Diet, etc.), but wonder why we always need the next one. 
  • Others occasionally indulge in imagining what it would be like to experience a Christianity that is more connected to the past, or cared more about beauty, or had an impact that stuck with us a little further into the week. 
  • Still others think we've found what we're searching for in some form of liturgical Christianity, but know we've barely scratched the surface of the riches before us. Or perhaps we've always been in that tradition, but wonder if its inheritance could be put to even better use.

Wherever on (or off) this spectrum you might find yourself, our 2015-16 series will explore the "more" for which you've been longing. We will explore the riches of our spiritual inheritance as Christians, using stirring visual art, writing, and music to illuminate aspects of the historic Christian faith and inspire our imaginations to go ever deeper.