Boston College Professor Peter Kreeft , 70, was interviewed recently by the Boston Globe (Expressing love when we're still able by Rich Barlow) on his new book, Before I Go : Letters to Our Children About What Really Matters (Rowman & Littlefield).
I’ve read several of Kreeft’s works including, Heaven: The Heart's Deepest Longing (1989), C.S. Lewis for the Third Millennium : Six Essays on the Abolition of Man (1994) and A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews With an Absolutist (1999) and have met him once in person. I have nothing but high regard and confidence in his work. I’m sure his latest book will not disappoint either. He certainly writes in a popular and enjoyable style for so-called “ordinary folk” like myself.
Anyway, his responses to some questions in the Boston Globe interview are well-worth remembering. Hopefully I will be able to give the same responses “off the cuff” someday as well!
Q. You start the book saying you wish you'd been a wiser and more present parent for your children. What regrets do you have as a parent? A. Like most parents, we had good will but not the expertise we wish we had. Back in Victorian days, the father was the paterfamilias who would lecture at the dinner table and have absolute authority. Nobody wants to return to that, but we don't have an adequate substitute, so we muddle around.
Q. You find much wisdom in your church. Is there any area in which you think the church misses the boat?
A. One of the reasons I became a Catholic when I was in college is my discovery of the astonishing gap between what the church teaches and what she practices. Her practice has been extremely spotty - she hasn't lived up to her ideals very well at all - and yet her ideals have remained the same and consistent and faithful and very high.
Q. Are there ideals the church holds to that you think are wrong?
A. No. The church claims to be the authentic voice of Christ and his apostles on earth. If that claim isn't true, it's arrogant and blasphemous. If it is true, well, you eat all the food that Mother Church puts on your plate. Which does not mean it's a complete meal. The church never claims to give you all the answers.
Q. In the book, you say trusting God is essential to getting to heaven. Do you ever look at the world's tragedies and doubt God?
A. Who doesn't? Doubts are the ants in the pants that keep faith moving. It's similar to our relationship with other human beings. The decision to trust them is a gamble, and we can lose if we're wrong. God doesn't give you a guarantee.
What really matters? ... We all need to be reminded from time-to-time (or taught anew if we forgot or were never taught in the first place). Sometimes we need the calm meditation on this topic that only a book form can give.
Anything that can remind us (or teach us) that God is not a monster is something that the world needs to hear and take to heart. That this "message" comes from a mind and heart like Peter Kreeft is all the more worthy!
Related post: Charles Malik (1906-1987)