Friday, January 23, 2009

Vanity, suffering, love and hope

Peter Kreeft's newest book is Three Philosphies of Life, represented by three Old Testament books. Ignatius has put "Three Ways of Living," the introduction to the book, online. Some excerpts:
.... When you have read all the books in all the libraries of the world, when you have accompanied all the world's sages on all their journeys into wisdom, you will not have found three more profound books than Ecclesiastes, Job, and Song of Songs.

These three books are literally inexhaustible. They brim with a mysterious power of renewal. I continually find new nourishment in rereading them, and I never tire of teaching them. .... A classic is like the morning, like nature herself: ever young, ever renewing. No, not even like nature, for she, like us, is doomed to die. Only God is ever young, and only the Book he inspired never grows old. ....

There are ultimately only three philosophies of life, and each one is represented by one of the following books of the Bible:
  1. Life as vanity: Ecclesiastes
  2. Life as suffering: Job
  3. Life as love: Song of Songs
No more perfect or profound book has ever been written for any one of these three philosophies of life. Ecclesiastes is the all-time classic of vanity. Job is the all-time classic of suffering. And Song of Songs is the all-time classic of love. ....

The essence of Hell is not suffering but vanity, not pain but purposelessness, not physical suffering but spiritual suffering. Dante was right to have the sign over Hell's gate read: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

Suffering is not the essence of Hell, because suffering can be hopeful. It was for Job. Job never lost his faith and his hope (which is faith directed at the future), and his suffering proved to be purifying, purgative, educational: it gave him eyes to see God. That is why we are all on earth.

Finally, Heaven is love, for Heaven is essentially the presence of God, and God is essentially love. ("God is love.') ....

Joy is the mood of love, young love, new love, "falling in love". That is the wonder in Song of Songs: that the beloved should be; that life should be; that anything, now all lit by the new light of love, should be--as mysterious a glory as it was to Job a mysterious burden. [more]
Three Ways of Living | The Introduction to "Three Philosophies of Life" | Peter Kreeft |

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