Saturday, April 16, 2005

Death on a Friday Afternoon by Richard John Neuhaus

Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross

The book is in the form of a reflection of meditation. I hope speed-readers (I often wish I were one) will find themselves slowing down and maybe even putting the book aside from time to time just to think about the mystery. The book is not entirely meditative, however. Arguments are also advanced, and there is some vigorous wrestling with traditional doctrine--"doctrine" being just another word for "teaching"--about the death of Christ. And there are stories about people today who in their troubles find themselves, as they say, at the foot of the cross. Sometimes they find themselves there in anger, sometimes in joy, but always in a deeper awareness of the mystery of their lives within the mystery of life itself

And so it is. Sometimes his "wrestling" with doctrine overwhelms the meditation, as in his defense of the hope that all will be saved, or in listing the (traditional but speculative) virtues of Mary. More often he wrestles with what it means to be a sinner, and how terribly far from God we are even at our best; and how unexpected and yet central Jesus' sacrifice was.

Never mind the warts. Go read it. Slowly.

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