Heaven by Peter Kreeft
Below were some excerpts that made me pause and reflect for few minutes upon finishing this ‘heaven’ book written by popular philosopher and apologist, Peter Kreeft. It was an awesome book,but not everyone would find it awesome as each of us has different ‘taste’ of what heaven is. There you go:
What do we want? A political saviour? A superstar? A Superman? If so, Jesus is not our answer. He does not fit our expectations. ‘He is the great iconoclast….The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins.’ Our hearts are too small for him. He gives us more than we want, and he wants us to want more than we want so we can want what he gives us. Is it perhaps a new birth, a new being that we want? Divine life? The seed that will grow into being ‘perfect as my Father in heaven is perfect’? If that is what we want, Jesus is our answer. It is to this desire that he says, ‘Seek and you shall find…all who seek, find.’ All other things can be sought and not found: money, pleasure, power, fame, health, peace, security, or worldly success. Only God is guaranteed. All who seek him find him. But only those who seek him find him: ‘You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the Lord.’
Finding him is heaven. Seeking him is heaven’s door. Not finding him is hell, and not seeking is the door to hell. The road to hell is not paved with good intentions but with no intentions, with ‘I don’t give a damn’ or ‘the hell with it’. (Page 47,48)
As C.S. Lewis puts it, ‘Joy is not a substitute for sex; sex is very often a substitute for joy. (Page 105)
Romantic love is an infinite passion because it is an unconscious longing for the infinite God who is love. (Page 107)
Why does this person fall in love with that person and not another? Why does just this face, whose eyes, move us as lovers, work wonders in our heart, seem to be one we were born desiring? Why do we recognize the beloved’s beauty as what we were looking for all our lives? Why does Romeo fall for Juliet, of all people? Antony for Cleopatra? What in the world does Joe see in Mary? Nothing in the world. But what in heaven does Joe see in Mary? That’s it: What in heaven? (Page 107)
Spirit is essentially dynamic, and its joy flows out in three directions: back to God in gratitude and rejoicing, out to others like a watering fountain, and into our own soul and body as a sort overspill. Joyful feelings and thoughts, even pleasure and health, result from Joy; and this is a foretaste of heaven. ( Page 134)
Teilhard de Chardin also sees ‘ the heart of the problem’ as an image problem: ‘Man would seem to have no clear picture of the God he longs to worship.’ It is because a joyless person can only picture a joyless God.
Perhaps one reason excitements like gambling, violence, alcohol, and promiscuity are often temptations to the ethical and conventionally religious person is that his or her life is full of peace but not of joy. It lacks the ingredient that is in joy but not in peace or happiness: passion. Such a person is rarely tempted by avarice, selfishness, or lust for power, the desire to control one’s life. The need is to yield to ecstasy- if not to God, then to an irrational passion. (Page 141,142)
We act out our perceived identities. Tell a kid he’s lovable and he’ll act lovable. Memento mori, said the medieval maxim: Remember death, and then you will not sin. But the biblical meaning of this is not: Remember that if you sin you will be punished after death. It is: Remember that you have already died to sin, to old self, to Adam; remember who you are, and you will not sin. (Page 188)
Unless we fight, we do not fail. Unless we fail, we do not know our need. Unless we know our need, we’re not in the market for God’s grace. (Page 193)
With our feet on the earth, we breathe the air of heavenly joy. It’s not something we work up or read a book about; it’s something we’ve been given. The present of heaven is presented to us in the present, and there’s no time like the present. In fact, there’s no time but the present. It’s here, and the only thing we can add, the only thing God wants from us, is our desire for it, our yes to it. The ‘it’ is a him; his name is Jesus.
What do we want? Infinite joy. Very well, here he is. Now what? Just say yes. Is that all? Yes. Keep on saying yes, like Molly Bloom at the end of Ulysses. Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. (Page 199)
Paul in Romans 7: ‘I do not understand my own behaviour. For the good that I would do, I do not, and the evil that I would not, that I do.’ (Page 223)
‘For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?’ (Page 256)
According to the most practical of all religious authorities, Jesus Christ, only the virtuous, only the pure of heart, can see God. For the instrument with which we see God is ourselves, our hearts. Our wills, our loves. By loving, we keep the instrument clear, the mirror bright, the temple ready for the Lord who has promised to come suddenly and visit his temple with the weight of his glory. His yoke is so easy, his burden so light, that the thing that weighs infinitely more than the whole world, namely, the weightless that we do not even carry it, it carries us, like the wind carrying the stream. All we have to do is to say Yes. ( Page 164, 165)
To sum up this book that I had read: Finding Jesus is heaven, and heaven is my heart’s deepest longing.