Friday, April 18, 2014

The One-Minute Aquinas (Sophia Institute Press)

I have a confession to make. I have never read much of St. Thomas Aquinas. I tried early on after my conversion, but his writing was too deep and too abstract for me that I quickly set it aside and never returned to him again. I have another confession to make. I'm not terribly disappointed that I haven't returned to his writings. St. Thomas Aquinas was a brilliant saint, and regarded by many as one of the smartest men ever. However, I know I still don't have the patience to slowly read through St. Aquinas. Therefore, I had trepidations when I received The One-Minute Aquinas to review.

The One-Minute Aquinas is Dr. Vost's attempt to make St. Thomas Aquinas' writings understandable to the masses. Instead of using the line-by-line approach of walking through the Summa Theologica, Dr. Vost instead focuses on important questions Aquinas answered in his writing. Topics include, but are not limited to, salvation, the Trinity, sin, free will, and evil in the world. The beauty of this book is that you can choose to read it from beginning to end or simply skip to topics, which are of interest to you. I chose the latter approach.

One chapter that particularly caught my interest was "Your Soul and its Eleven Passions." Thomas Aquinas divided the passions into two main groups - "concupiscible appetite, fueled by love, whereby we have affinity for good and are repelled by evil; and the irascible appetite, which motivates us to remove difficult obstacles to the attainment of what we love." In the concupiscible appetite category are the passions of love, desire, joy, hatred, aversion, and sorrow. And in the irascible appetite category are the passions of hope, despair, daring, fear, and anger. The chapter then goes on to offer a remedy for sorrow and later it contrasts anger and hatred. In this latter subject, he shows how both anger and hatred are wrong, but states that "hatred is more incurable than anger." It really makes you think twice before you casually say that you hate someone.

Getting to the heart of Aquinas' writings and making them accessible for the average person is not an easy feat, but Dr. Vost does a fine job...and in under 300 pages! Included in this book are flow charts and tables to help better illustrate ideas more clearly than just reading through paragraph after paragraph of text. There is also a bit of humor in little asides called "Dumb Ox Box." Some topics in these boxes include "Is it a sin to be boring?" and "Is it a sin to drink wine?" Though I wasn't the intended audience for this book, I see the merit in this book and think that it will have mass appeal to seminarians, philosophy majors, or just those who want to better understand the Angelic Doctor. If I ever feel the need to try and read St. Thomas Aquinas, this is the first book I will reach for.

This book was provided to me for free by Sophia Institute Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, click here and hit Yes!