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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommend - Books gave answers to my aches for love, pain of loneliness, unsatisfied longings, January 8, 2013
This review is from: Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing (Hardcover)
It is hard not to resort to language that most people will probably perceive as hyperbole. But I don't seem to have a better way to express this than to say this book is life changing. The song, "looking for love in all the wrong places & in too many faces" runs through my mind as I think about why I would recommend this book to people I care about. "Perspective" is a good word. This book provides a perspective as to what makes me "tick"- Why I seem to be busier than ever, doing more things, with more people, but never really escape the sense of being unsatisfied and in that sense, lonely. With the context as to why I, (or any human) is full of desires that never seem to be truly fullfilled, this book provides a roadmap to understand and experience those same desires, but in a context that gives me hope for their fullfilmment. I dont think I will ever eat pizza, drink a beer, listen to a song, watch a movie, approach sex or God in the same way. That's it! The best way to describe this book is it is an "Eye-Opener"! You won't look at things the same way after this book. There are few books that have ever done that for me. Perhaps "Wild at Heart" by John Eldridge or "Purpose Drive Life". But this book seems even deeper, more to the 'root' of what life and all my desires are about and it was done without ever being "preachy"- more of a tour guide, adventure approach by the author. I rarely write reviews (this is my 3rd/4th ever), so I hope this helps some people discover this book.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Banquet of Desire, January 29, 2013
This review is from: Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing (Hardcover)
"The burning, yearning for "what is real" is incorporated into our design." Imagine reading a book that talks about our innermost desires and that the truth of our design is to find that desire. Well, Christopher West does an outstanding job in explaining the true meaning behind our desires. His latest book called "Fill These Hearts - God, Sex and The Universal Longing is a clear and easy to read book about desire, entwined with pop culture and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Yes, that is right pop culture and the Catholic Church all in the same sentence and the same book!

Christopher West shows us how God intended us to be set free. How freedom comes from living out our intended design. That when we have eternity as a destination our path along life is much easier. When we live our lives for the purpose our bodies and souls were created for we then truly are free. Free to love, free to enjoy this heaven on earth that God has given us. This book will have women cheering because they are finally being understood and if we as women are truly honest with ourselves we were created to be just that "women". Not people trying to behave like men and trying to imitate man, but truly women imitating Jesus with love and nurturing -with desire and passion. Men will read this book and get a better understanding of their role in life. They will find that with desire for the correct destiny, they can become true men who seek to protect and bring forth life.

Christopher West does an excellent job in allowing the reader to examine many of their own heartfelt feelings. He encourages us to take a real honest look into our souls and use our God given bodies to become what we were created for - people with passion, people with desire and people with a purpose.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fill These Hearts: Theology of the Body for a Wounded Culture, January 29, 2013
This review is from: Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing (Hardcover)
Style
While Christopher West has written many books and has found success as an author, he is also a dynamic speaker, and Fill These Hearts certainly reads like he's speaking to you. The tone and style is very straightforward and the text isn't overly encumbered with footnotes and the like, though the notes in the back are helpful for tracing some of his thoughts. The conversational style makes the work easy to read through and, frankly, difficult to put down.

Content
Throughout the book, West uses a threefold approach. He is attempting to help wake his readers up to the desires they have within their hearts, if only they would realize they were there. He uses a lot of lyrics from popular music and also mentions a few scenes from movies along the way, trying to show us that, even though we sometimes forget it, we all carry within us a deep longing for fulfillment.

Saint Augustine famously wrote that "Our hearts are restless, O lord, until they rest in thee." This book is Christopher West trying to appeal to the same restlessness which resides in the heart of modern men and women, and his use of analogies and stories along the way helps make it clear that, despite our best efforts to deal with those desires, we are never truly satisfied.

My favorite feature of the book, which runs throughout, is his constant repetition of the idea that if we will pay attention to our deepest desires, they can help show us our design. And once we are aware of that design, we can follow it to our destiny.

Another great and helpful feature his the analogy of the wedding feast that he uses. He says we are all hungry for satisfaction and that our souls won't be at peace until we know what to do with that desire. The world gives us three options, which he describes as follows:

The starvation diet/Stoicism: trying to ignore our desires for fulfillment, stifling them and pretending they don't exist. In regard to sexuality this would be Victorian puritanism.
The fast food diet/Hedonism: realizing we have deep desires, but not willing to guide those desires, we attempt to satiate our desires by indulging in unhealthy and degrading types of pleasure, all the while falling short of true happiness.
The banquet: The joy we can experience if we acknowledge our desires, and properly order them toward that rich food and drink which God wishes to lavish us with.

Why This Book?
Christopher West and a number of authors have written books trying to take John Paul II's massive and very difficult Theology of the Body to a wider audience. And each attempt to do so has been extremely helpful in generating interest in the original material and has also made some progress in creating a movement of young people trying to live the positive value of chastity. What makes this book different is that it really is reaching out to not only young people, but an entire culture. And as West notes, he is a student not just of theology, but of the culture. Throughout this book you'll find quotes from U2, Mick Jagger, Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Johnny Cash, and more.

In many cases, the important theological and philosophical points that West is striving towards are presented more as common human experiences. I particularly like, and think all young people will intuitively respond well to the fact that West shows our human desires to be a positive value. Of course this doesn't mean our desires require no discipline, but he strives throughout to take a healthy look at our desires and to acknowledge that they can clarify our design, and ultimately lead us to our destiny.

Pax,

Luke
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Calls out to our Deepest Longing, January 14, 2013
This review is from: Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing (Hardcover)
A raw explanation of our heart's deepest longing, our deepest desire, our greatest love story: God Himself. Through music, art and Sacred Scripture, West weaves in the great spiritual truths of our faith, taking the old with the new, using insightful images and sounds from our ancient traditions along with our tainted culture that cries out for our hearts to be filled. He draws out our heart's longing and points us on the yellow brick road, leading us to the gates of Heaven. His writing, theologically driven, is a showcase, putting our hearts on the line, exposing the raw desire of our greatest longing: God.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really, Really Good, January 12, 2013
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This review is from: Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing (Hardcover)
I've enjoyed all of Christopher West's books, but this one is the most genuine, in my opinion. You don't have to be Catholic, or even Christian. I've been struggling with some serious doubts, and I found it to be tremendously healing and thought-provoking. Read it - you won't be sorry.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mr. West makes a difficult subject easy to understand, March 11, 2013
This review is from: Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing (Hardcover)
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Book, January 8, 2013
This review is from: Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing (Hardcover)
A wise and beautiful exploration of the Theology of the Body. West is conversant in popular culture as well as theology, and he writes in a very direct yet graceful style. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fill These Hearts: A Geeky Review, February 20, 2013
This review is from: Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing (Hardcover)
Christopher West's "Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing" is, in essence, a book about desire. No, it's not about the empty, selfish desire that's advertised by much of our media today. It is about the most desperate desires that are found in the hearts of people around the world....and how they should be oriented in order to fulfill our need to feel joy, pleasure, and all other wonderful feelings that are meant to be but a taste of things to come. As West points out, we tend to follow one of two extremes when it comes to desire. We either follow the "starvation diet" or the "fast food diet. We tend to either deny desire altogether or gorge ourselves on it." Both of these approaches have their pros, but they also have quite a few cons. As West brilliantly points out, both approaches are wrong and doomed to fail in one way or another. Even so, we normally don't even consider the possibility of another, more fulfilling option that has been tried and tested by many mystics before us...an option that allows us to truly experience desire as it should be experienced.

As a Catholic who has read Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body," I thought that I had read all I needed to read regarding sex and desire as they are meant to be experienced. I was wrong. "Fill These Hearts" contained the same message as "Theology of the Body," but in a more down-to-earth manner. Essentially, this book is about orienting our desires in a manner that allows us to unite ourselves with God. Using pop culture references, his own experiences, and quite a few great quotes by saints and sinners alike, Christopher West explores the subject of desire in a way that just about anyone can relate to.

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who, like me, is on the path to marriage. I would also recommend it to anyone who is still in the dating scene or considering a serious relationship. It will certainly help you avoid many of the mistakes that my fiancé and I made over the years. Many of these mistakes are almost ingrained in us from the beginning due to skewed messages of love that we are fed by everything from seemingly innocent Disney movies to the smuttiest of magazine covers. We are, in a sense, almost set up to fail in a world where divorce rates are so high and where so many of us are stuck in relationships that are failing to make us truly happy. The book contains some pretty powerful messages and will certainly inspire you to orient your desires in a way that will not only enrich your life and improve your relationships, but also draw you closer to God.

The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was offered a copy of Christopher West's "Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing" for review. This review was originally published on The Catholic Science Geek blog.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound insight into human desire, February 1, 2013
By 
kevin p. connolly (malverne, new york United States) - See all my reviews
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West gives readable understanding to the profound teaching of Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body. I was mesmerized. I most highly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book!, April 21, 2013
By 
J. Short (West Virginia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing (Hardcover)
Have you ever read a book that was so profound you couldn't put into words what you just read? That happened to me with Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but considering I was to write a review, the thoughts of what to write swam in my head because how do I decide an area in which to focus, and in fact I've stalled in writing this review because I kept hoping I could write a review worthy of this book, but I doubt that is possible. With three sections of this book, Desire, Design, and Destiny, Christopher West takes us through a journey of what it means to have desires as a Christian. The desires aren't limited to just those of a sexual nature, but ultimately whatever we desire -- fortune, fame, love, is satisfied when we are content with God alone.

The author has made a project of making Pope John Paul II's "Theology of The Body" accessible to a wider audience as he takes the hefty theological issues and explains them to the layman. Not only is he gifted at doing this, his writing is beautiful, giving hope as well as strengthening faith. His illustrations are ones that the average person can understand, using pop culture as examples to sometimes make his point. It's rare I've seen a book have references to the Peter Gabriel, Switchfoot, and Saint Therese of Lisieux.

One of my favorite parts of the book was where Christopher West discusses grace verses license. Just because we CAN do something, does that mean we SHOULD? Sometimes that's a hard line to differentiate. An example of this is a couple decades ago I attended a Christian college where we were not to go to movies. Yet, there was a 99 cent theater down the road. I heard every argument as to why it was okay to watch a movie -- from "We are allowed to watch them once they are on VHS" to "I'm not a member of this denomination so I don't have to follow that rule." I admit, I saw a Disney flick at the theater, and yes, I would have been in trouble if caught. Yet, for all of us who broke this rule, I remember eating pizza with the yearbook staff and our editor who was already ordained in another denomination saying, "Just because I can walk into a theater doesn't mean I will. I signed a statement like every other student, and while enrolled, I will not go to a movie." That man may have been young, but he understood the difference between grace and license as well as what the honor of his word meant. Just because we are able to do something doesn't mean it's the best thing for everyone involved. Twenty years have passed and I still think about him and the fact that he chose what was best based on that situation.

This book was excellent, and even while reading it the first time I knew it would be a book I would keep and reread. I rarely read a book more than once, so that alone tells the quality of the content and writing of this book. It's something I'd recommend all Christians read. While it's geared towards Catholics, I am Protestant and can't say enough about how great this book is.
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Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing
Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing by Christopher West (Hardcover - January 8, 2013)
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