Saturday, March 9, 2013

Catholic Monday: Fill These Hearts

Today in the Catholic Corner, I am reviewing a book by one of the quintessential authors on Theology of the Body, Christopher West. For those of you unfamiliar with Theology of the Body, it was a series of 129 lectures Blessed John Paul II gave which showed his integrated vision of the human person - body, soul, and spirit. They dealt with love, purpose of life, marriage, sex, gender, etc.

I must admit that this is my first time reading not only the author, but also the subject, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from Fill These Hearts. The first thing I noticed, though, was the precise organization of this book. Broken into three parts, "Desire, Design, and Destiny," Mr. West displayed a clear thought pattern of where he wanted to take you in this book. I appreciated the alliterative sections as it made the message of this book easier to remember. What exactly is our ultimate desire, design, and destiny? Union with God, of course.

Whether every person realizes it or not, we are all designed for Union with God and will not feel complete unless we are reunited with Him. We also desire love, from God and other people. As a Christian, I was taught about love a lot growing up. I was told that there are different types of love, including love of friends (philia), romantic love (eros), and unconditional love (agape). Agape is the one we are always told to aim for, but this book does a fine job defending and explaining eros, which when rightly directed is a  good thing. Yes, we can distort it and turn it into lust, but eros can also be an on-fire, longing type of love, which we should have about our eternal destiny of Heaven.

I also appreciated the personal stories that Mr. West shared in this book. When one becomes an expert on a subject, it is easy to depersonalize the subject and write a book in textbook format. However, the author's stories made me relate to him better and feel connected to him. He didn't paint himself as a saint, but showed us his self-portrait, warts and all.

I did have one big gripe with the book though, and that was that every chapter had a quote from a popular song underneath the chapter title. Did I recognize all these songs? Yes, but with the song choices, movie references, and other pop culture sprinklings, it felt that this book was tailored to a very specific audience and would be dated quickly, as songs and movies can quickly fall out of fashion with the next big song or movie. This means the book might not stand the test of time and could fade with this generation, which is a shame.

Overall though, this is a very well-written and informative book. It is easy to read, and made the subject matter less intimidating for someone who had no prior knowledge of it. I wish all the pop culture references would have been left out though. I don't think anything would have been lost from the book if they were omitted, and the message would have still been just as clear. So for all the pop culture references, I am giving the book 4 out of 5 stars. I understood them and appreciated them, but an older reader or younger reader probably would not have.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. Here are some helpful links related to the book.