James V. Schall, S. J.

  Georgetown University, DC, 20057-1200

  www.moreC.com/schall

 

William Rossner, S. J. Lecture, Delivered at Rockhurst University, Kansas City, Missouri, February 28, 2002.

 

                                            WHAT MUST I READ TO BE SAVED?       

 

AIt is this same disciple who attests what has here been written.  It is in fact he who wrote it, and we know that his testimony is true.  There is much else that Jesus did.  If it were all to be recorded in detail, I suppose the whole world could not hold the books that would be written.@

                                                                                                                                 B John, 21:24-25.

 

AFor this reason anyone who is seriously studying high matters will be the last to write about them and thus expose his thought to the envy and criticism of men.  What I have said comes, in short, to this: whenever we see a book, whether the laws of a legislator or a composition on any other subject, we can be sure that if the author is really serious, this book does not contain his best thoughts; they are stored away with the fairest of his possessions.  And if he has committed these serious thoughts to writing, it is because men, not the gods, >have taken his wits away.=@

                                                                                                       B Plato, The Seventh Letter,344c.

 

ABooks of travels will be good in proportion to what a man has previously in his mind; his knowing what to observe; his power of contrasting one mode of life with another.  As the Spanish proverb says, >He, who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry this wealth of the Indies with him.=  So it is in travelling; a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge.@

                                                                                 B Samuel Johnson, Good Friday, April 17, 1778.[1]

I.


We are familiar with the incident in the Gospel of the rich young man who asked Christ what good he must do to be saved.  Christ responded to him that he must keep the commandments.  This the young man had done from his youth, a fact that Christ recognized in him.  Christ added, in words that still force us to distinguish between Aobligation@ or Aduty@ and something more and different from it, that, if he wanted to be perfect, what he should do was to sell what he had, give it to the poor, and come follow Him.  The Gospel records that the young man did not follow this proposal, rather he Awent away sad,@ for, as it says in striking explanation, the young man Ahad many riches@ (Matthew 19:16-23).  We might suggest that this rich young man was one of Christ=s conspicuous  failures along with, say, Judas, one of the thieves, the scribes, Pontius Pilate, Herod, and some of His home-town relatives.

Notice that Christ did not tell the young man to become an entrepreneur so that he could create wealth to help the poor, though there is nothing wrong with this avenue.  Nor did Christ Aimpose@ a more perfect way on him.  It was up to what the young man himself Awanted@ to do with his life  Yet, even on reading this famous passage, a passage that John Paul II refers to again and again when talking to today=s youth, we have the distinct impression that the rich young man, and perhaps the world itself, missed out on something at his refusal.  If Aideas have consequences,@ so, possibly more so, do choices, even refusals.  We can suspect that the young man=s talents, without his riches, were needed elsewhere, perhaps later with Paul or Silas.  Indeed, Paul was subjected to pretty much the same process, but he decided the other way, for which we can still be thankful as we read his Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Thessalonians, to Titus and Timothy.


This memorable account of the rich young man reminds us that not only is the world less when we do evil, but even when we do less than we are merely invited to do.  It makes us wonder whether the world is founded in justice at all, in only what we are to Arender,@ in what we Aought@ to do.  Such a world would be rather dull, I think.  The highest things, while not denying their acknowledged worth, may be grounded in something quite beyond justice.  An utterly Ajust world@ may in fact be a world in which no one would really want to live.  The fact that God is not defeated by evil or even by a lesser good helps us to realize, with some comfort, I confess, that we do not find only justice at the heart of what is.  The great book that teaches this principle, above all, is C. S. Lewis= Till We Have Faces, a book not to be missed.

The title of my remarks today obviously plays on these words, Awhat must I do to be saved?@  I ask rather, to be provocative, Awhat must I read to be saved?@   I do not intend to suggest that Christ had his priorities wrong.  When I mentioned this title to a witty friend of mine, she immediately wanted to know whether any of my own books were included in this category of books Anecessary-to-get-to-heaven?@  I laughed and assured her that indeed the opera omnia of Schall were essential to salvation!  The irony is not to be missed.  We cannot point to any single book, including the bible, and say that absolutely everyone must actually read it, line by line, before he can be saved.  If this were to be the case, few would be called and even fewer chosen.  Heaven would alas be very sparsely populated.  But I do think that between acting and reading, even in the highest things, there is, in the ordinary course of things, some profound relationship.  Acting is not apart from knowing, and knowing usually depends on reading.

Concerning books and getting to heaven, however, let me note in the very beginning that, statistically, most of the people in the history of mankind who have ever been in fact saved were what we today call Ailliterate,@ good people who did not even know how to read, let alone write and write books.  While Christianity does not at all disdain intelligence, quite the opposite, it thrives on it, still it does not simply identify what it means by Asalvation@ or Athe gaining of eternal life@ with education or literacy, in whatever language or discipline.  In the long dispute over Socrates= aphorism that virtue is knowledge, Christians have generally sided with Aristotle, that fault and sin are not simply ignorance.  Multiple doctorates, honorary or earned, will not necessarily get us to heaven, nor, with any luck, will they prevent us from attaining this same happy goal.


No doubt, throughout its history, the Christian missions in all parts of the world, not necessarily excluding the noble state of Missouri or that anomaly where I live, the District of Columbia, have historically been concerned with precisely literacy as a way to make the Lord known and to make human beings more fully what they already are by nature.  For human beings, the fullness of being ought to include the fullness of knowledge.  None the less,  the drama of salvation does not bypass anyone simply because he is uneducated, or only has a B.A. from some out-of-the way college in Iowa, where I was born. 

Just as there are saints and sinners among the intelligentsia, so there are saints and sinners among those who cannot read and write.  Christoph Cardinal von Schönborn remarked that Thomas Aquinas was the first saint ever canonized for doing nothing else but thinking.  Yet, within the Christian tradition more than a suspicion exists that the more intelligent we are, the more we consider ourselves to be Aintellectuals,@ the more difficult it is to save our souls.  The sin of pride, of wilfully making ourselves the center of the universe and the definers of right and wrong, is, in all likelihood, less tempting to those who do not read or who do not have doctorates in philosophy or science than it is to those who read learnedly, if not wisely.  The fallen Lucifer was of the most intelligent of the angels.  His first sin was in the order of thought.  No academic, I think, should forget Lucifer=s existence and his sobering story.  It is not unrelated to a modern academic..

II.


When we examine the infinitive, Ato read,@ moreover, it becomes clear that a difference is found between being able to read and actually reading things of a certain seriousness, of a certain depth, not that there is anything wrong with Alight@ reading.  Indeed, the sub-title of one of my books, Idylls and Rambles  -- though again, need I remind you, a book not necessary for salvation! B   is precisely ALighter Christian Essays.@  The truth of Christianity is not inimical to joy and laughter, but, as I think, it is ultimately a defender and promoter of them, including their literary expressions.  I have always considered Peanuts and P. G. Wodehouse to be major theologians.  In truth, it is the essential mission of Christian revelation to define what joy means and how it is possible for us to obtain it, that it is indeed not an illusion.  The first thing to realize is that joy is not Adue@ or Aowed@ to us. 

J. R. R. Tolkien, in his famous essay, AOn Fairy-Stories,@ even invented a special word to describe this essence of Christianity.  We are not, as it sometimes may seem, necessarily involved in a tragedy or a Acatastrophe@ but precisely in a AEucatastrophe.@  The Greek prefix Aeu@  B as in Eucharist B  means happy or good, the notion that, in the end, contrary to every expectation, things do turn out all right, as God intended from the beginning.[2]  This is why in part the proper worship of God is our first, not our last task, perhaps even in education.  In Josef Pieper  B an Anthology, a book not to be missed, Pieper remarks further that joy is a by-product; it is the result of doing what we ought, not an object of our primary intention; ultimately, it is a gift.[3]


AFaith,@ St. Paul told us, Acomes from hearing,@ not evidently from Areading,@ though this same Paul himself did a fair amount of writing.  We presume that he intended us to read it all.  It seems odd to imagine that he wrote those letters to Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, and Ephesians with no expectation of results.  When Paul remarked that faith came by Ahearing,@ he probably did not mean to say that it could not come Aby reading.@  We do hear of people who, as they say, Aread themselves into the Church.@  Chesterton, I think, was one of these.  In classic theology, it is to be remembered, however, that, unless we receive grace, itself not of our own fabrication, we will not have faith either by hearing or by reading or, in modern times, by watching television, itself perhaps the most difficult way of all! 

There are many, no doubt, who have heard but who have not believed.  Paul tells of those, including himself, who at the stoning of Stephen, put their hands over their ears so they could not hear what he was saying.  Alcibiades tells of doing the same thing so that he would not hear the persuasive words of Socrates.  Christ said to St. Thomas the Twin, Ablessed are those who have not seen but who have believed.@  Every time we read this passage, we are conscious that we are among those blessed multitudes who have believed but who have not seen.  And even our hearing, say in preaching, say in Sunday sermons, usually comes from someone who has previously read, and hopefully read well.

The Apostle John affirms at the end of his Gospel, a document itself full of the word, AWord,@  B in the beginning was the AWord,@ AWord@ made flesh B   that he in fact wrote the words that we read and that his testimony is true.  He also intimates, reminiscent of Plato, that there are many things that are not recorded in books, even in all the books in the world.  Yet, as the Church teaches us, what little of these things that the Lord taught and did that have in fact been handed down to us is sufficient for us.  Sometimes, it is sobering to reflect that the entire corpus of the New Testament covers a mere 243 pages in the English Revised Standard Edition.  We, those of who are fortunate enough to be literate, do not have to be Aspeed readers@ to finish the New Testament many times over during our lives, even in the course of a few days.


Whether all the books ever written in this world are contained in today=s libraries, or on the on-line facilities, I doubt.  But a tremendous number of them are.  One of the main problems with the very title of these comments has to do with the sheer amount of books available to read, and yes, to re-read.  I am fond of citing C. S. Lewis= famous quip that if you have only read a great book once, you have not read it at all.  This pithy remark, of course, brings up the problem of what is a great book and why great books are really Agreat.@  And even more, it asks whether great books exist that are not called great?  Ought we to spend all our time, after all, on so-called Agreat@ books?  Leo Strauss once remarked that, in the end, the famed great books contradict each other, a fact that has led many a philosopher and many a student into relativism under the very aegis of philosophic greatness.  There are, as I think, Agreat books@ that are not considered Agreat.@   

In the web site of the Library of Congress, it informs us that in 1992, the Library accessioned its 100 millionth item.  It added that the Library contains books in about 450 languages.  I have friends who can handle fifteen or twenty languages.  The current Pope seems to be one of these.  But I do not know anyone who can handle 450 different languages.  That takes a rather large committee. No doubt considerable numbers of books have been added since 1992, and I do not mention the books in the British Museum or the Vatican Library, or the great French, German, Spanish, American, and Italian libraries, as well as others throughout the world.   I do not know if there is some mythical person who is given the Riply Abelieve-it-or-not@ fame of having read the most books of any man in history.  But whoever this man might be, we are aware that he could have read more books than any man in history and still not know much, not know the important things.        


I like to tell the story of when I was about eighteen in the army at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.  I went into the post library, with time on my hands.  I looked at all the stacks of books there, but I realized that I did not know what to read or where to begin to find out.  It was a kind of revelation to me of that famous Socratic dictum of Aknowing what I did not know.@  Yet I knew, that , however logical, one did not go to the first book under the letter A and begin to read systematically all the books till one reached AZ.@  First of all, it could not be done in one lifetime, even in a fairly small library, and secondly it would have promoted a mental hodge-podge. 

At the beginning of the Summa, St. Thomas tells the young student that there is an order to learning and knowledge that makes it possible to distinguish the important and the unimportant things.  No library, I might add, is constructed on the order of St. Thomas= Summa which, I suspect, might tell us something about the limits of libraries, however good they might be.  Again, we are not well advised to take some encyclopedia and begin with articles under AA@ and read to those under AZ.@  The order of knowing is crucial to us.

There is a famous quip that claims that Aany man who says that he has read all the writings of St. Augustine is a liar.@  And if we take St. Thomas, remembering that he had no computer and that he had at most twenty six or twenty seven years of life during which he could write anything before he died in 1274 A. D., we still find it almost impossible to believe that he actually wrote what he did, something itself clearly dependent on what he also had read.  It is a constant recommendation of mine that students go over to the Library and look up on the shelves the folio opera omnia of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, just to consider what sort of life one would have to lead in order to write, let alone understand, such a vast amount of work.  Too, the students should reflect on what very different kinds of life from each other that these two great intellectual saints lived.  Moreover, we shudder to think where we should be had, like the rich young man, Augustine or Aquinas chosen some other form of life, which they no doubt could have.   


The story of how the works of Aristotle or Augustine were saved for posterity is itself another of the scary accounts of how, even though they wrote what they did, we almost lost what they wrote after they wrote it.  Indeed, we did lose much of what Aristotle wrote, not to mention Cicero and other important thinkers.  The very dialogue of Cicero that changed the life of the young Augustine, as he tells us in The Confessions, is lost.  We do not have it in the Library of Congress.  I was once on a division of the National Endowment for the Humanities that considered grants to libraries for the physical preservation of books and newspapers.  It is astonishing over time how fragile our output of books and papers is even with great preservation efforts.  And of course all our current Aon-line@ facilities, in which most of today=s writing and publishing first appears and indeed in which it is preserved, depend on a continuous supply of electricity, not to mention computers.  These latter technologies seem to defy both time and space in enabling us to send our latest thoughts around the world or across the street in an instant.  The question always remains whether we have anything to say and whether what we say is true or not.

III.      

On a web site one day, I came across the name of a Hong Kong movie director by the name of John Woo.  Though I had never heard of him, he evidently must be a famous director for, in several entries, he is referred to as Aa god among directors.@  This is no mean encomium.  Reading further, I found a short comment of Woo himself about his film heros.  Evidently Woo, something of a philosopher, wanted to get at the essence of why his heros are so popular.  AThe killer is the man,@ Woo explains, Awho does bad things, but he wants to be good.@  Needless to say, this is a variety of the Robin Hood theme, if not Lucifer himself. 


But I was struck by the precise words in this passage.  The killer admittedly does bad things, like, I suppose, killing people.  If there were no Abad@ things to be done, that is, no distinction between bad and good things, the killer evidently would not have the attraction that he does.   No one doubts that Abad@ things have their own obscure attraction.  Unfortunately today, killing certain classes of people, like unborn babies and certain of the elderly, is not considered by everyone to be a Abad@ thing, or perhaps it is just one of those Abad@ things we Amust@ do.  However, if we Amust@ do a Abad@ thing, it is difficult to classify it as evil or ourselves as free.  Necessity is not a moral category, nor an accurate description of the inner workings of a free being.

I have unfortunately never seen a Woo film.  But notice the peculiar way that Woo explains the outlook of the killer of men.  No doubt he does Abad@ things, so Woo apparently still retains some distinction between the good and the bad.  I do not know if Woo makes less successful films on non-killer-types.  But the killer, even in doing bad things, still Awants@ to be Agood.@  What could this Awanting@ imply?  This paradoxical situation could mean either that the killer would like to reform the life that leads him to kill, so he retains the intention of the good, or that goodness depends on his Awants@ or Achoices,@ not on his deeds.  This latter is closer to the sin of Adam and Eve who wanted what it was to be good or evil to depend on themselves and not on nature or God.

What must I Aread@ to be saved?  What I will call here Athe Woo principle@ is actually vary old, already found in Plato.  This finding is why we must read him, especially if we watch Woo movies.  Socrates, as we read, maintained in the Crito that it was never Aright to do wrong.@  Given a choice between death and doing wrong, we should choose death, as that is not clearly wrong if we suffer it from the hands of another.  It is better to Asuffer@ evil than to do it.  No wonder the Holy Father has praised Socrates and seen his death in relation to that of Christ.


On the other hand, I require each of my students to read what is probably the most immoral expository book in the history of political philosophy, the one that states this AWoo principle@ in its modern classic form, even though Plato had already formulated it.  It is also a most famous and enticing book.  Students are much attracted to it and by it.  Many students, indeed, I have noticed, are very charmed by it.  I am charmed by it myself.  We are naive if we think that the difference between good and evil is always easily recognizable, let alone easy to choose between even when we do recognize it. 

This book, of course, is Machiavelli=s Prince.  One of the young companions of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Peter Ribdanera, wrote a book called, Anti-Machiavel.  Leo Strauss, in his famous book Thoughts on Machiavelli, called Machiavelli simply Aa teacher of evil.@  Now, Machiavelli can, in one sense, be looked on as a handbook.  The book originally was given as a gift to the ruler of Florence, almost as if perhaps he did not himself know how to rule.  It sketched how a prince would sometimes, perhaps often, do bad things in order to keep in power.  So long as we think it is a good thing to stay in power no matter what, then Machiavelli=s advice becomes a lesson in how to do it, especially on the Ano-matter-what@ part of his advice.  Evidently, in such a view, what makes good men to be bad princes is the restriction on their actions imposed on them by the classical distinctions of good and evil.  The prince, liberated from these restriction, presumably, would be a more Asuccessful@ ruler, if not a better man.


In the course of this book, Machiavelli tells us, with some paradox, that all armed prophets succeed and all unarmed prophets fail.  At first sight, this teaching will seem quite logical until we remember that Machiavelli himself was neither a prophet nor a prince.  If this is the case, that he was a minor diplomat and not a prince, it seems paradoxical that he thought his own unarmed life was worthwhile.  Moreover, the prince for whom he wrote the book probably did not much need his advice or even welcome it.  Machiavelli hints that his real foes are men who did not write books, namely, Socrates and Christ.  Both Socrates and Christ were, moreover, unarmed prophets, as was Machiavelli himself.  But Machiavelli did write a book.  Neither Socrates nor Christ wrote one. 

What, then, can Machiavelli mean when he says that Christ and Socrates were Aunsuccessful.@  Socrates needed Plato to write about him.  Christ needed the Evangelists and Paul.  Evidently, what Machiavelli thought he had to undermine was not the armed prophets, but the unarmed prophets.  Who was Machiavelli=s audience, then?  Was it Lorenzo, the prince?  It hardly seems likely.  By writing a charming book, Machiavelli sought to entice generations of students and students-become-rulers.  These readers encounter something that, if they follow its principles, will not save them.  Machiavelli wrote to turn the souls of potential philosophers away from Socrates and Christ.  Unless he could manage this Aconversion,@ the world could not be built on his Amodern@ political principles.  To follow Machiavelli=s tract, we must cease to be interested, as was Socrates, in immortality, or like Christ in first seeking the Kingdom of God.

Do I think The Prince to be one of the books that we must Aread@ to be saved?  I do indeed.  The knowledge of what one ought not to do is not a bad thing.  It can be, but as such, it is not.  It is good to know the dimensions of what is persuasively wrong.  We ought to encounter disorder in thought before we encounter and especially before we duplicate it in reality.  It was Aristotle, I believe, who remarked that virtue can know vice, but vice does not know virtue.

III.

What must I read to be saved?  When classes were over last spring, I received an e-mail from one of my students who had arrived at his home.  He wrote:


I have found something interesting while talking to my friends here at home....  Many of my         peers have fallen into the trap of moral relativism.  They have accepted education as a means to an end.  It is very disheartening.  I was wondering if you had  ... any ... suggested readings for this subject of the relativism of my generation?  Many of my friends feel that religion or spirituality is a private thing, and one ought not question another=s belief system.  Everything is personal and therefore out of the realm of criticism.  I think someone wrote something about how that affirmation of morality, religion, and ethics as a >private= enterprise, is in itself a moral statement.

No doubt the students among this audience will recognize the sentiment expressed here.  It reminds me of the famous passage in Allan Bloom=s 1986 book, The Closing of the American Mind, AThere is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.@[4]  ADoes this relativism have a history?@ we wonder?


In 1959, The Newman Press published an English version of Jacques Maritain=s The Sin of the Angel: An Essay on a Re-Interpretation of Some Thomistic Positions.  The book was translated by William Rossner, S. J., to whom these lectures are dedicated.  Rossner wrote a Preface to this book, dedicated to the Amembers of the theology and philosophy faculties at Rockhurst College.@  Rossner contrasted Maritain=s more familiar style in his Reflections on America with that of The Sin of the Angel.  The Sin of the Angel, Rossner thought, enables us to zero in on the essential nature of sin apart from any confusion that comes from passion or our bodily existence.  AFor the sin of the Angel is found to be fundamentally,@ Rossner wrote, Aa life of self above all else.@  Though, ironically, I think there are some problems connected with Maritain=s thesis in this little book having to do with whether angels could have sinned had they not been offered a higher grace, the fact remains that one of the things we need to read to be saved is precisely about sin and evil, what and why they are.  Sin and evil are bad enough in themselves, as it were, but to think wrongly about what they are is perhaps even more dangerous

In a two-frame Peanuts, Sally is shown sitting upright in a formal chair staring at the TV in front of her.  From the TV she hears the following announcement: AAnd now it=s time for..@  In the second scene Sally, with determination, points the TV changer, which looks like a gun, at the machine and firmly announces:   ANo it isn=t!@  The last thing we see is a printed Aclick.@[5]  Sally shoots point blank to kill the monster before her.  I cite this colorful little snipet in the context of Awhat must I read to be saved@ because it makes the graphic point that we each must simply shut things off in order to come into some possibility of knowing what all that is is about. 


I had mentioned to my friend, Professor Thomas Martin, at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, that we Amust get someone to the book to free him.@  Martin replied: AWe teachers are missionaries, a light in the dark electrical jungle, filled with blasting sound bites, strobe-lights and talking heads.  To pry students away from the various screens where they are spectators of life to the >examined life= is a challenge.@   What struck me about Martin=s remark about being surrounded by Avarious screens,@ was a mental walk through the campus where in fact we encounter screens of one sort or another almost everywhere.  The only salvation from being protected from reality by such screens is to become active readers and readers of things that can take us to the highest of things, the things of man and the gods, the things that are. 

So I am going to propose, with some rashness perhaps, a brief list of ten books that, when read, will perhaps save us or at least bring us more directly to what it is that does save us, faith and grace and good sense.  The writers of the books I select will all, I think, accept the proposition that saving our souls and saving our minds are interrelated.  We do not live in a chaos, though we can choose one of our own making. 

As some may know, in several publications I provide a somewhat variable list of ASchall=s Twenty-Five Books to Keep Sane By.@  I am perfectly capable of finding any number of Alists@ of ten books that would do the same thing that I have in mind.  Basically, I think that if there is something wrong with the way one lives, it is because of the way one thinks.  However, I am most sensitive to Aristotle=s observation that often how we live and want to live prevents us from clearly looking at what is true.  Our minds see the direction that truth leads and often we do not want to go there.  In short, there is no way around anyone=s will, but the shortest way is go follow Sally=s example, click off the screens that keep us in mere spectatorship and take up the much more active occupation of reading for understanding what it is all about. 

These are the ten books, for what they are worth:


1) Chesterton=s Orthodoxy; 2) C. S. Lewis= Mere Christianity, 3) E. F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed, 4) Fedyor Dostoveysky, The Brothers Karamazov, 5) Antoine St.-Exupery, The Little Prince, 6) Stanley Jaki, Chance or Reality and Other Essays, 7) Dorothy Sayers, The Whimsical Christian, 8) J. M. Bochenski, Philosophy  B an Introduction, 9) Etienne Gilson, The Unity of Philosophical Experience, and 10) Josef Pieper B  an Anthology.

My selection includes one Russian, two Frenchman, one Hungarian, one German, one Pole, and three English.  But, one might object, Awhat about John Paul II=s Crossing the Threshold of Hope?@  Read it.  What about the Bible, Plato, and Aristotle?  Read them.  And Augustine=s Confessions?  Never to be missed.  What about Schall=s opera omnia?  For heavens sake read them!

I do not want to Adefend@ my list against other lists.  I can make up a dozen other lists myself.  The only really long book in my list is Dostoyevsky, which takes some time to read.  Gilson=s book requires attention but it is manageable by most people.  The Jaki essays touch on the question of the sciences.  The others are short, easy to read.  All should be read many times.  The point about this list, however, as I see it, is that if someone reads each of the books, probably in whatever order, but still all of them, he will acquire a sense that, in spite of it all, there is an intelligibility in things that does undergird not only our lives in this world but our destiny or salvation. 

Again, there is a relation between what we think and what we do.  We can think rightly and still lose our souls, to be sure.  But it is more difficult.  The main point is that the intelligibility of revelation is also addressed to our own intelligence.  We need to be assured that what we believe makes sense on any rational criteria.  Lest I err, a reading of each of these books will point us in the right direction  B one that indicates at the same time how much we have yet to know, including the completion of God=s plan for us itself, but also how much we can know midst what often appears as a chaos of conflicting opinion.  But to obtain the impact of these readings that I intend, one does have to click off the screens and the noises that prevent us from encountering writers, often delightful writers, who so clearly wrestle with the reality of the things that are, including the ultimate things.


AIs that everything you have to tell us?@ someone might ask.  It is.  AWhere can I get these books, are not some out of print?@  The finding is part of the adventure.  There are libraries.  Amazon.com and used book stores exist.  ABut Father Schall, you are not being very practical....@  My job is not to be practical but to set you off on an adventure.  And it is an adventure.  Just click off the screen.  Try it.



[1]Boswell=s Life of Johnson (London: Oxford, 1931), II, 227

[2]J. R. R. Tolkien, AOn Fairy-Stories,@ The Tolkien Reader (New York: Ballantine Books, 1968), 68.

[3]Josef Pieper  B an Anthology (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989), 33-38.

[4]Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), 25.

[5]Charles M. Schulz, Could You Be More Pacific? (Peanuts Collector Series #8; New York: Topper Books, 1991.