Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Recommended Reading

My good friend and theologian superior, Andy Guffey, after enumerating a number of recommended texts on his blog charged some friends with the same task. As I thought of which books I would want on my list I remember that a good friend from high school had requested five books to read and I offered the following titles:

The Fountain Head by Ayn Rand
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Walden by Henry David Thoreau

These now anachronistic suggestions all have a teenage flare for the dramatic - and I must add - secular. Now in seminary my reading list has changed much. Some of these books I have had for years, others I have just read in recent weeks. I shall limit myself to the top five.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I was given the Little Prince as a graduation present. While backpacking Europe I used the book as a devotional, reading a page a day. As with C.S., Saint-Exupéry was able to distill the importance of Christianity into simplicity. Simply a story of a little prince who loved a rose, and cared for a sheep.

The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser
My first theology book. I read it during my first volunteer year while serving in East St. Louis. It sparked my desire to know God. Rolheiser talks of 'Christian essentials' and the need for serious Catholic Christian reflection of contemporary life which is often at the whim and want of modern, secular culture.

Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis
The first science fiction series to be considered properly as Literature. The three books, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, The Hideous Strength comprise the history of the Christian creation, fall and redemption. This series is allegory at its best and most beautiful, though it often if forgotten among the other C.S. Lewis classics.

The Goodness of God by D. Stephen Long
After reading this book I knew I wanted to enter seminary and study under Dr. Long. It was the first time I began to understand that theologies could, in fact, be 'systematic'. After reading the book I found to my surprise that the testimonial on the back cover none other than my undergraduate advisor at DePaul University, Dr. Michael Budde.

Resurrection and the Moral Order by Oliver O'Donovan
Oddly, this is the only book that made my list that I have read while in seminary. Resurrection, much like Long's Goodness of God was a systematic exposition of an Augustinian Evangelical. His interest in rescuing foundational principles, while still not falling into Natural Law is helpful, and his insistence on the vindication, but not full redemption of creation is insightful.

I must mention that after reviewing the list, it is as much an anthology of my faith journey as anything else. Thanks go to Siobhan O'Donoghue for introducing me to both Rolheiser and Saint-Exupéry, Audrey Krumbach and Phil Erwin who placed Dr. Long's book in my hand, and finally my current advisor, Dr. Waters, for imperialistically requiring me to read O'Donovan.

A Poem of Love

As my life is still ebbing with little time for creative thought I simply share a beautiful poem by Pablo Neruda this week.

'The Question'

Love, a question
has destroyed you.
I have come back to you
from thorny uncertainty.
I want you straight as
the sword or the road.

But you insist
on keeping a nook
of shadow that I do not want.

My love,understand me,
I love all of you,from eyes to feet, to toenails,
all the brightness, which you kept.

It is I, my love,
who knocks at your door.
It is not the ghost, it is not
the one who once stopped
at your window.
I knock down the door:
I enter your life:
I come to live in your soul:
you cannot cope with me.

You must open door to door,
you must obey me,
you must open your eyes
so that I may search in them,
you must see how I walk
with heavy steps
along all the roads
that, blind, were waiting for me.

Do not fear,
I am yours,
I am not the passenger or the beggar,
I am your master,the one you were waiting for,
and now I enter
your life,
no more to leave it,
love, love, love,
but to stay.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Prayer of Peace

This week I share a poem and prayer entitled, "Peace" by Gerard Hopkins circa 1918.

When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I'll not play hypocrite
To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?

O Surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,
He comes to brood and sit.