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The Order of Things Paperback – October 31, 2007

4.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"After reading James V. Schall's The Order of Things, I have been sorely tempted to give up teaching and simply tell my students to read Schall. This little work is a virtual ratio studiorum of higher education in the finest sense. Its wisdom towers over the current intellectual scene with a common sense sanity that is intoxicating. It is Schall at his best." -- -- Peter A. Redpath, Professor of Philosophy, St. John's University<br /><br />"Father James V. Schall is one of the few renaissance men still among us. His knowledge of various areas of reality and human endeavor is encyclopedic. Dealing with important abstract ideas, he is able to put flesh on them so that the ordinary reader can grasp easily what he is getting at. Schall is the apostle of truth and reality, since he is always reminding the reader to consult that which is." -- -- Kenneth Baker, S.J., Editor, Homiletic & Pastoral Review<br /><br />"Here is a book about everything, the subject which just happens to be the most neglected in our narrow-minded, short-sighted world. Fr. Schall takes on heaven and hell and everything in between. And his clear-thinking sparkles in his clear-writing. A painless and praiseworthy way to sweep out any confusion and muddled ideas that may be lurking in your head." -- --Dale Ahlquist, Author, Common Sense 101: Lessons from G .K. Chesterton

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (October 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586171976
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586171971
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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First, full disclosure: I have long been a fan of Reverend Schall.

This ambitious book, in under 250 pages, tackles many of the biggest questions surrounding our existence and our obligations. In a time of atheist chic, Rev. Schall takes a serious look at why things are the way they are. He weaves together many classic ideas from Plato to Aquinas to Tolkien and Lewis. And, his writing is accessible to someone without a philosophy degree, but merely a deep curiosity about existence and reality.

Counterintuitively, the author starts with the macro perspective -- The Orderly and Divine -rather than starting, like Lewis' "Mere Christianity" at the personal level. As his focus narrows, the higher-order ideas and lessons wrap neatly around the more personal.

An absolutely delightful read. The material is not easy, but is presented in clear and enjoyable prose. The greatest challenge, however, is less in the understanding of Rev. Schall's points than in the acceptance of them in one's life.
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Format: Paperback
Like the previous reviewer, I am a fan of Fr. Schall. He is the wise type of professor I always enjoyed but rarely found. This book is not an easy read, but it certainly is well worth reading because of its wisdom encompassing subjects ranging from political philosophy to aesthetics, in terms of both faith and reason. Fr. Schall is equally comfortable quoting both Plato and Peanuts and many of the great minds of the Western tradition to show that reality has an objective order that is divinely ordained. This order begins with God and extends to creation and all its aspects-angels, humans, plants and matter, law, ethics, science, knowledge, beauty, etc. The ascent of the order leads to God via the mind knowing and contemplating truth, goodness and beauty in all their varying aspects of being. The book is also a profound meditation of philosophical anthropology discussing the human being in all his relationships-self, others, city and state, good and evil-to explain how goodness and love enhance the order of reality while evil alienates and creates disorder. Ultimately, he shows that that both the material and immaterial orders of realty point to God's love for humans and that our ultimate destiny and happiness is the origin of all order, God himself.
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Format: Paperback
Fr. Schall's text is quite a distillation of the central idea that there is an order to things and that this order is part of a unified whole when viewed from the foundational building blocks of the Godhead. I picked this text up because it seemed to providentially be placed in my path in several different locations in my local bookstore which I had visited only with the desire to find books to later purchase online more cheaply. I am glad that I picked this book up immediately.

Although it is merely 234 pages, "The Order of Things" is a dense, but approachable, read which takes on a panoply of considerations in order to see the overall direction of the Creator, His cosmos, and the parts therein (particularly man). It is difficult to lay out the fullness of Schall's presentation in a short review since he pulls from many philosophical, theological, and cultural sources to address and consider a great variety of topics related to order. However, in short, it can be said to be an arrow which strikes the heart, having passed through the Godhead into the world and then into humanity. Schall's considerations are centered on that order which is the dynamic ordering of love in the Trinity, even if that is only implicit in much of the text. His exposition of order (and its contrast to disorder) is not one of a static nature but one which draws its unity from the initial consideration of the Triune God.

This is a book that one can revisit many times (and I intend to do such over time). I highly recommend it as a veritable smorgasbord which touches the depths of the soul.
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Schall is a great essayist and in this book we are given nine essays and a conclusion on "order" from "The Orderly and the Divine" through "The Order of Mind" to "The Order of Beauty". As with Schall's other works, these essays are peppered with references to the great philosophers of the past such as Socrates, Plato and Aristole - thus through Schall one gets in touch with modest effort with the world's patrimony. I will quote some passages from Schall just to show good he is and make some comments where appropriate.

The Orderly and the Divine

"Our laughter depends on our seeing the incongruity of things. We see inconcongruity only when we simultaneously see the congruity of things"

"As Aristotle told us in a famous passage, we should strive with all our might to know not merely mortal things but the highest things"

"If we keep company with "dvine and orderly things", there is some chance that we should likewise reflect this company in our souls, in our lives, in our families, in our cities"

"Thomas Aquinas, recalling Aristotle, said in a famous passage that "it is the nature of a wise man to order things".

"Our longing for knowledge is beyond our control we simply want to know. We are moved by the wonder of the world. We are beings who want to know, we seek to know the what is of everything we encounter including ourselves"

"The very good of his mind is to know and manifest this order"

"The mind wants to know that this thing is not that thing. It strives to distinguish. It seeks to know and manifest the differences among other things, including human things. The human mind implicitly assumes there is order among things because it looks for it".

"The order is a willed order.
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