Category Archives: Books

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.

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Finding Joy (God) in Reading

Heaven books

Therefore, I proclaim that the library is the greatest tranquil secular mega-mall in the planet earth.Period.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
-Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!-

When we pray we speak to God;but when we read,God speaks to us.
-St. Jerome-

What Religion Really Means

I felt good as it took me less than 3 weeks finished reading the book, ‘The Case for God’ by Karen Armstrong. Of all the books that I’ve read, this book ranked the toughest and hard to digest so far. She suggests that if we draw creatively on the insights of the past, we can build a faith that speaks directly to the needs of our troubled and dangerously polarized world. I feel blessed with my true faith and will learn more about it. Not only that, I begin to develop sense of respect for all the religions in today world. As Karen said, religion was never supposed to provide answers to questions that lay within the reach of human reason; it helps us to live creatively, peacefully and even joyously with realities for which there were no easy explanations and problems that we could not solve. However, it requires a great deal of effort and cannot succeed if it is facile, false, idolatrous, or self-indulgent. Overall, she concluded it well what religion really means as the extract below which I taken from the epilogue:

From almost the very beginning, men and women have repeatedly engaged in strenuous and committed religious activity. They evolved mythologies, rituals and ethical discipline that brought them intimations of holiness that seemed in some indescribable way to enhance and fulfil their humanity. They were not religious simply because their myths and doctrines were scientifically or historically sound, because they sought information about the origins of the cosmos, or merely because they wanted a better life in the hereafter. They were not bludgeoned into faith by power-hungry priests or kings: indeed, religion often helped people to oppose tyranny and oppression of this kind. The point of religion was to live intensely and richly here and now. Religious people are ambitious. They want lives overflowing with significance. They have always desired to integrate with their daily lives the moments of rapture and insight that came to them in dreams, in their contemplation of nature, and in their intercourse with one another and with the animal world. Instead of being crushed and embittered by the sorrow of life, they sought to retain their peace and serenity and in the midst of their pain.

They yearned for the courage to overcome their terror of mortality; instead of being grasping and mean-spirited, they aspired to live generously, large-heartedly and justly and to inhabit every single part of their humanity. Instead of being a mere workaday cup, they wanted, as Confucius suggested, to transform themselves into a beautiful ritual vessel brimful of the sanctity that they were learning to see in life. They tried to honour the ineffable mystery they sensed in each human being and create societies that honoured the stranger, the alien, the poor and the oppressed. Of course they often failed. But overall they found that the disciplines of religion helped them to do all this. Those who applied themselves most assiduously showed that it was possible for mortal men and women to live on higher, divine or godlike plane and thus wake up to their true selves.

To listen to her voice, you can go to this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/documentaries/2009/07/090714_theforum_120709.shtml