Dante couldn’t return, but we have.

Dante couldn’t return, but we have. June 4, 2024


Brunneleschi's dome
The Cathedral or “Duomo” of Santa Maria del Fiori (“Holy Mary of the Flower”) in Florence, Italy, including Filippo Brunelleschi’s famous 1436 dome and the campanile or bell tower that was designed and commenced by the great Giotto — Giotto di Bondone — in 1334.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)

Our group traveled from Rome to Florence this morning and, upon arrival, immediately set out in various directions on foot to see the city.  My wife and I spent our time in the city’s magnificent cathedral.  Truth be told, the interior is pretty open and sparse, a fact that some explain as part of the legacy of the ascetic Dominican reformer (or zealot) and martyr (or heretic) Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498).  But we enjoyed sitting in the cathedral, reading about its history and immediately walking about to inspect things to which reference was made.

Martyr or loon?
The hanging and burning of Girolamo Savonarola in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence in 1498. This is a seventeenth-century copy of an original attributed to Francesco Rosselli and dated to roughly 1500. (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

Our group regathered in the late afternoon at the Piazza della Repubblica for a walking tour led by one of the best guides my wife and I have ever had.  (And we’ve had a lot of them, in many countries.)  Her name is Sarah or Sara and, a native of Florence, her university training was in the history of art.  (Can you think of a better place for such study?)  She speaks very good (and slightly Australian-tinged) English, and she took us down to the River Arno to the Ponte Vecchio, through the area in which Dante and Beatrice grew up, past the Uffizi and the Palazzo Vecchio, by the spot where Savonarola was executed, over to the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, back to the Duomo, and, finally, to the famous octagonal Baptistry with Ghiberti’s “Doors of Paradise.”  I enthusiastically recommend her to anybody coming to Florence.  (I’ll try to get her full name and contact information for anybody who is interested.)  My wife and I have been here, oh, perhaps half a dozen times or so — maybe a bit more than that — but she was extraordinarily informative.

Incidentally, the Accademia isn’t merely about Michelangelo’s David, although that early masterpiece of his is plainly the single most famous object in the collection.  Sarah spent considerable time and attention on other paintings and sculptures there, and they are truly wonderful.  In fact, it seems to me that the Accademia must be considered a significant  tributary of the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File™.  Among the many beautiful works in the Gallery — obviously including the David itself — there is scarcely a single one (in fact, there may not be a single one) of a secular character.

How much better off the world would be if those works of art had never been created!

Imagine there’s no heaven.It’s easy if you try.No hell below us,Above us only sky.Imagine all the people living for today. . . .
And no religion too. . . .
You may say I’m a dreamer,But I’m not the only one.I hope some day you’ll join usAnd the world will be as one.
Dante with Firenze
Dante, a fervent lover of his native city of Florence who nonetheless died in exile in Ravenna, holds a copy of his “Divine Comedy” in a fresco by Domenico di Michelino (1417-1491) that appears on the lefthand wall of the nave of the “Duomo” of Florence.  With his right hand, he gestures toward a procession of sinners heading into Hell. Behind him on his right is Mount Purgatory, with repentant sinners toiling upward on its path and Adam and Eve in the “terrestrial paradise” on its summit. Behind him to his left is the city of Florence, including the dome of its cathedral and the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio. In the distance are the celestial spheres through which he will ascend during his tour of Paradise. Thus, all three books of the “Divina Commedia” — “Inferno,” “Purgatorio,” and “Paradiso” — are represented in this painting.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

I need to call your attention to four items that have recently appeared on the comatose and essentially unchanging website of the basically moribund Interpreter Foundation:

Nibley Lectures: Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon Lesson 24: “Have Ye Experienced This Mighty Change in Your Hearts?” Alma 5-7

This week, we have lectures 45 through 47 from Hugh Nibley’s Book of Mormon classes at Brigham Young University, covering Alma 4-10.

During 1988, 1989, and 1990, Hugh Nibley taught Honors Book of Mormon classes for four semesters at Brigham Young University. The lectures were video-taped and audio cassettes and printed transcripts were made of the lectures. We believe these recordings will be interesting to listen to and valuable to your Come, Follow Me study program this year. Each week, we will include the lectures covering the Book of Mormon chapters being studied that week.

The Book of Mormon in Context Lesson 24: “Have Ye Experienced This Mighty Change in Your Hearts?”: Alma 5-7

For the 19 May 2024 Come, Follow Me segment of the Interpreter Radio Show, Martin Tanner and Terry Hutchinson and Kris Frederickson joined in a discussion of Book of Mormon lesson 24, “Have Ye Experienced This Mighty Change in Your Hearts?” covering Alma 5-7.

Their conversation was recorded.  It has now been edited to remove commercial breaks, archived, and made available for free, online, in the service of your dégustation and edification. The other segments of the 19 May 2024 radio show can be accessed at https://interpreterfoundation.org/interpreter-radio-show-may-19-2024.

Interpreter Radio Show — May 26, 2024

For the 26 May 2024 episode of the Interpreter Radio Show, the co-hosts were Steve Densley and John Thompson. They discussed Robin Douglas’s recent article in Interpreter on “The Eucharist of the Latter-day Saints” and Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon lesson 25. An edited recording of their conversation during that 26 May 2024 broadcast of the Interpreter Radio Show is now available online at your convenience.

The “Book of Mormon in Context” portion of this show, for the Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon lesson 25, will also be posted separately on Tuesday, 11 June 2024.

The Interpreter Radio Show is broadcast on Sunday evenings from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640.  Or, if you prefer (or have no alternative), you can listen live on the Internet at ktalkmedia.com.

Come, Follow Me — Study and Teaching Helps (2024): Lesson 24, June 10-16: Alma 5-7 “Have Ye Experienced This Mighty Change in Your Hearts?”

Editor’s Note: Four years ago, Jonn Claybaugh began writing the Study and Teaching Helps series of articles for Interpreter. We now have these wonderful and useful posts for all four years of Come, Follow Me lessons. Beginning this year we will be reposting these articles, with dates, lesson numbers, and titles updated for the current year’s lessons. Jonn has graciously agreed to write new study aids for those lessons that do not directly correspond to 2020 lessons.

Massacio painting of the Trinity
Masaccio’s “The Trinity” (painted between 1425 and 1428) in the Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, near the train station (which is named for it: “Firenze Santa Maria Novella”) and not very far from where I’m typing at the moment.  (I can hear the trains.)  The Father stands, entirely naturalistically, behind the Son, while the Holy Spirit is represented by a white dove. The three are quite distinct.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)  I noticed at least four or five similar paintings in the Accademia this afternoon.

I like this, from Princeton University’s Robert George.  May his tribe increase:  “Why I’m celebrating fidelity to God, family and country this month: Fidelity Month needs happy warriors to spread the word about a positive and uplifting project”

Posted from Florence (Firenze), Italy



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