I first heard of Terrence Malick’s film, “A Hidden Life,” several months ago. Probably I read about it in a newspaper article about the Cannes Film Festival at which Malick’s film caused some discussion. I am not exaggerating when I claim that for months I had been waiting for the film to appear in this country.
Something strange and wonderful happened in my life in relation to my previous column. Just before writing that column, I had lunch with some people in service professions.
I have just come back from having lunch with some people who are in service professions. Knowing that I planned to write a column sometime today, I half-jokingly asked them what I should write about in the column. I was not planning to have a deep conversation but was merely curious about what they might say.
Faith & Thought
Recalling the many Christmas columns that I have previously written, I was momentarily concerned that in writing this one I might repeat myself. Almost immediately I put the concern out of my mind. How could I not repeat myself?
Recently in a philosophy class at St. John’s University, a student asked a question that caused me to be silent for a few seconds. Usually I love to receive questions and often find that they stimulate me to explore new areas of philosophy, and the dialogue that develops between me and the questioner can provide an educational experience for me, for the questioner and for the other students in the class.
I cannot recall whether a special experience I had took place while I was praying or while I was preparing a homily about prayer. The experience was a vivid insight into a truth that I already knew.
Having learned that a priest I greatly admire had written a book, I eagerly looked forward to obtaining and reading a copy. When Msgr. Dennis M. Regan’s “Free and Holy Where You Are: The Daily Life of a Catholic” arrived in the mail, my first reaction was that I wondered if the book had a good title. The format of the book is a collection of two- or three-page essays, a format that I usually don’t find attractive, and so I was concerned that I might not like the book. My concerns disappeared quickly as I read the text. Msgr. Regan has written a marvelous book, and the title is perfect.
Anyone who has read the previous four columns in which I have commented on David Brooks’ “The Second Mountain” knows how much I like this book. I believe the book, which is informative, provocative and inspiring, is a wonderful gift that Brooks has made available to readers. I am hoping it is read by many.
There are several reasons I am enthusiastic about David Brooks’ new book, “The Second Mountain.” One is that Brooks seems to have embraced a philosophy I teach students at St. John’s University, the philosophy of personalism.
Two topics that caught my attention and have kept my interest during the many years in which I have been teaching philosophy are the meaning of commitment and the meaning of freedom. I have found that insights into commitment lead to insights into freedom and insights into freedom lead to insights into commitment.