I first met Father James Martin, S.J., about 15 years ago. His reputation had preceded him. I had read some of his writings and I had heard about some talks that he gave. Not long after I met Father Martin I asked him to write a comment for the cover of a book I had written. He did, and after that, a friendship developed.
The truth that we must die to self must frighten me. Though through faith I can handle my emotional reaction, it strikes me that I should examine my reaction, reflect on it to see if I can understand it better, and perhaps use it to grow.
I teach several philosophy courses at St. John’s University in which I spend a number of classes on the topic of truth. At the start of my first presentation, I stress that what we will read and discuss about truth is one of the most important sections of the course. I believe that what I teach about the meaning of truth is true and I challenge the students to prove me wrong.
Reflecting back on my experience of my years of teaching philosophy, especially teaching about the mystery of the human person, I am very aware of how much my views of what it means to be a human person have changed. Lately because of what I am reading and teaching I am very aware of how much my view of freedom has changed.
The late Father Andrew Greeley frequently expressed in print his view that beauty can draw us toward God. It can act like a sacrament revealing God to us and drawing us closer to the Infinite Beauty who God is. I never disagreed with Andy’s insight but I don’t think I ever gave it as much thought as I should have.
One of the seven broken signposts that A.T. Wright studies in his new book Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World (New York: HarperOne, 2020, $27.99) is spirituality. It is one of the seven signposts that Wright doesn’t think are working in the contemporary world and which he thinks can be healed by embracing the vision that St. John presents in his gospel.
Anyone who has ever read St. John’s gospel probably recalls that the gospel has some beautiful statements about love. What I found so exciting about N.T. Wright’s reflections on love in his book Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World (HarperOne, 2020, pp. 198, $27.99) is Wright’s insistence that John’s gospel not only contains some beautiful insights into love but that the entire gospel is about love, God’s love for creation and our love for God and other persons.
“The word love, whatever its finer shade of meanings, is all about relationships. It is about being drawn out of myself toward something or someone else, in whatever way and with whatever short- or long-term aims or effects. It is about discovering that ‘I’ become more ‘myself’ when I am in relationship-even if that relationship might be, for a time at least, with a mountain, a horse, a sunset, a child, a sweetheart, a house, a hospital patient, colleague or a neighbor.
Shortly after reading a review of N.T. Wright’s new book, “Broken Symbols: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World” (New York: HarperOne, 2021, pp. 128, $27.00), I knew I had to get a copy.
At St. John’s University I start every philosophy course that I teach by encouraging the students to try to experience awe and wonder at some of the truths that we will uncover during the course.