I know I've already done at least 7 blogs, but I feel obligated to explain that this is the "seventh blog" as assigned. Blogger is acting weird right now. Cursor not keeping up with typing. Hem.
Anyway as I mentioned in response to Annette's last blog, we've really outgrown our title ("descent into hell" or "hellmongers"). I thank God for this! No longer is it like the early hell of blogging, trying to figure out what we should be saying or how to interpret one another's posts. I came close to estranging some people and my heartfelt thanks to all who forgave my clumsy exhortations.
Getting past early preconceptions, and learning to really read every word of every blog has been invaluable. We probably all have a tendency to take amateur writing less seriously than we take Dante, but I have found that several times my fellow bloggers uncover crucial insights. I am excited every time I look at our blog, because I know I am going to hear real and honest perspectives... it's not often that people just get together to talk about God, the universe, hell, heaven, earth, etc. and it's even rarer to see it done in an open forum. Usually it's centered around some assumed 'basic truth' or geared towards proving a lesson. That can be nice, but I much prefer this form. We're basically a collection of strangers hashing out our ideas about theology and philosophy, with no purpose in mind. No one is trying to sell anything! No one feels obligated to buy!
The overall movement of my own writing has been towards a more intimate self-disclosure, and I think it also reflects a deeper interest in my co-bloggers. In my last post, I asked some questions out of sheer curiosity, not because I wanted 'answers' so much as to say, 'these are the questions that I think about', and 'what do you think'? In a sense, I've let go of some of my need to intellectualize. I still believe that authority is in place to provide guidance, but I also want to know what all the other pilgrims are thinking about. I think when I've opened myself up to other people's ideas, they have never let me down. I have been especially impressed by Annette's last few posts. In the beginning I thought maybe you couldn't be bothered to put your whole heart in it (like me) but lately I've been blown away. Everyone who has posted has been brilliant and I think it's a sign of our letting our guards down that the posts just keep getting better. I'm not much of a 'free-writer' myself, and it's been hard at times to be on-topic, whatever that may mean. My type-A need for 'form' and 'structure' remains, but I am grown more comfortable with rambling, as this blog demonstrates. I also am keener to post, because, as I've said, Paradiso is much more interesting than anything before. I thought Purgatorio blew Inferno out of the water, and likewise Paradiso is more stunningly enchanting. I love the visuals here, because it's all light and movement, and the concreteness of Hell irritated me even while it fascinated me.
I think as a group our ideas have got better as we left Hell behind and moved on to better things. In my response to Annette's last post I said it was as if we were in Purgatorio, chanting back and forth, sending out our songs for one another's benefit. Yes, it continues to be difficult, not least because finals draw nigh, but we seem to be working together, or at least with something other than just getting the assignment done in mind. I think also that our very ideas have become more interesting. With Hell, we tended to be angry or disgusted or perplexed, but now it seems the posts are clearer, more intense and fuller. This is something worth thinking about, I guess. In canto XXIX of the Paradiso, it says "Christ did not say to His first congregation, 'Go and preach twaddle to the waiting world' ". I think our blogs reflect our grown interest in seeking out truth, what we can accept, and eliminating the cultural twaddle (great word, eh?) A lot of what Dante says is twaddle, not least of which is his version of the geocentric universe, but we aren't talking about the twaddle anymore. I kind of felt like the Brunetto Latini discussions were twaddle; it's a cultural issue, and not important to the overall message of Love. (In fact, it's Dante's twaddle more than it is ours). To quote Dante again, "If all that mortal man may know through mortal teachings were as firmly grasped, sophists would find no listeners there below." I take this to mean that if we understood easily everything we can potentially understand, we would not be interested in philosophy. There would be no need for philosophers if each of us did not desire enlightenment, and feel the need for help attaining it. Is it just me, or are we feeling this now? The desire (love) for Truth is innate, and it sends Reason to help guide us to Truth?