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God and the World: A Conversation With Peter Seewald Paperback – August 1, 2002
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About the Author
Pope Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant theologians and spiritual leaders of our age. As Pope he authored the best-selling Jesus of Nazareth; and prior to his pontificate, he wrote many influential books that continue to remain important for the contemporary Church, such as Introduction to Christianity and The Spirit of the Liturgy.
Top customer reviews
Benedict is a brilliant scholar and thinker, and given the chance, can explicate a nuanced and obscure thread into the most eloquent, informative revelation. In God and the World, though, the questions are driven by Seewald, sometimes creating a disconnect in the Pope's far-reaching understanding. I found this interrupting of the Pope's train of thought to be distracting to my own, after a while. Lots of good "bits," but strung together without Pope Benedict XVI's profound connectivity. Still worth the price.
The book is worth reading by anyone, and a must reading by a Christian Catholic. It sheds a lot of light on the elaborate (and controversial) philosophy of the church. The real draw back is the friendly attitude of the interviewer, he just lets the Cardinal off the hook so readily (and there are a lot of hooks), at times you can see the Cardinal stretching things beyond reasonable limits, or taking refuge in the "beyond reason mysteries".
This approach when mixed with some logical "fortifications" is a recipe for explaining anything in any direction.
I remember Pope Benedict XVI recently criticizing the approach of following abstract reason all the way when dealing with morality and I admired his point of view that this might lead into disastrous conclusions, but after reading the book I realized that the opposite is also true. The evolving story of Mary the mother of Jesus as mentioned in this book is a case in point; the little, blessed and humbled lady of the Bible should feel appalled when she realizes that the church is still pushing her up along the way to be elevate to a goddess status through a similarly unrestricted "churchly" approach.
In the first section, the Prologue, Seewald continues in a vein similar to the earlier book, asking questions that are both academic and personal, discussing issues of faith, vocation, mystery and belief. Ratzinger speaks of his personal devotion and prayer practices, which include traditional forms of standard communal prayer (noontime Angelus, Vespers, Compline) as well as his own personal prayer practices, such as reciting a prayer before rising in the morning. He gives an account of how this kind of practice strengthens and reinforces itself, saying that 'the organ of sensitivity to God can atrophy to such an extent that the words of faith become quite meaningless.'
Seewald directs the questions in a format that might serve as a guide to following a systematic theology - while this is not Ratzinger's systematic theology by any means, one can see the philosophical and theological consistency even in the answers to the question-and-answer format. He speaks of God, creation, Christology, scripture, sacraments, ecclesiology, and more. These are done in creative but traditional ways - for example, the section of Christology (speaking of Jesus Christ), the conversation falls under broad headings of Revelation, The Way, The Truth, and The Light (as separate sections). He also explores issues of Mariology and the significance of the Cross.
The sections on the sacraments and the future are both firmly grounded in a sense that they need to be connected to the happenings in this world. Ratzinger looks forward to a resurgence of the spiritual in Christianity, and this perhaps taps into one of his namesakes, the St. Benedict who was an early pioneer in the development of monastic community and spirituality.
Interestingly, given Ratzinger's selection of papal name as Benedict XVI, this interview (the third in-depth interview with Seewald) was conducted at a Benedictine Abbey, the famous Abbey of Monte Cassino.
There are many books that can give good insight into the thinking of the new pope, but this book is a key text to show both his recent thinking, as well as his responses to crucial questions of concern in the current situation in the church and in the world.
Most recent customer reviews
There are so many things that are wonderful about this book; it is hard to know where to begin.Read more