Thursday, February 03, 2005

Lent Approaches-What Counts for Meaningful Spiritual Reading

The truth is that I have stopped doing anything special for lent. I tend to just increase bible reading, that sort of thing. This year, I'm thinking of dabbling into a bit of spiritual reading. The problem is I have a very low tolerance for much of what is out there. I have a low threshhold for what I think is BS. If it has a whiff of BS, I'm out.

So i fall back on one of the few people I actually love to read, John Henry Newman. So I think I'll read his stuff for lent. The question is to blog or not to blog it and if so, then where? Why "where" you ask? I actually have a John Henry Newman blog that I haven't done too much with and if I write anything on Newman, I like to keep it all in one place.

I tend to like, common sense and less "pious" spiritual reading. It has to be grounded in scripture and it has to be free of overtly Catholic trappings. I don't know why. If it focuses on patristic personalities or is about their theological views or spirituality, then I can do it. I would gladly read Augustine's confessions or any of the early Church father's works. So for instance, Disputations guy mentioned Hugo Rahner's Our Lady and the Church. That's a book I've read and could read.

I've tried Fulton Sheen and it just did not take. Thinking about it though, I think I could read certain works from the French school of spirituality. St Francis de Sales was part of that school and it is the tradition that brought us St Louis de Montfort. But there is a particular theologian in that French school that I really like, an Jesuit Oratorian by the name of Berulle. He is probably the most influential figure in Catholic theology you never heard of. Now, that's an exciting idea.

I think I like punch, I like spiritual certainty, confidence in one's own understanding of God to the extent that one is willing to speak with conviction about it. I don't like "searchy" type books. I want a definite position that i can agree with or disagree with. Even in cases of disagreement, I get excited by the interaction and internal dialog that ensues. Also, being a glutton for punishment, I emjoy difficult prose. Why say something in two sentences when you can say it in a more convoluted manner in five sentences, a la Newman?

C S Lewis? I have never gotten past the first two chapters of Screwtape letters. I love the Great Divorce and could read that over and over again (BTW, I love Pilgrim's Progress), I don't like over-hyped books, so I have never laid eyes on Mere Christianity. I do like some other things he has written.

I am leaning towards Berulle and Newman. Why not both? Why not.


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