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|Format: DRM Protected ePub|
Publication Date: 2013
Fill These Hearts is a book about desire. Not trivial wants or superficial cravings, but the most vital powers of body and soul, sexuality and spirituality, that haunt us and compel us on our search for something. Weaving life-altering lessons together from classical and contemporary art, pop music, movies, and the Christian mystical tradition, popular theologian Christopher West explores the ancient but largely forgotten idea that the restless, erotic yearnings we feel in both our bodies and our spirits reveal the cry of our hearts for God. Along the way, West blows the lid off the idea of Christianity as a repressive, anti-sex religion by demonstrating that Christ came to stretch and inflame our desire for love and union to the point of infinity.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
CHRISTOPHER WEST is on the road constantly, speaking about the Theology of the Body. He also is a research fellow and faculty member of the Theology of the Body Institute and regularly organizes young adult conferences on the subject of love, faith, and relationships. His books are used in adult education and marriage preparation courses. He is also one of the most sought after speakers in the Church today, having delivered more than 1,000 public lectures on four continents, in more than a dozen countries, and in over 200 American cities. He resides in Lancaster, Pa.
"Well done! Christopher West has done a masterful job of confronting the inherent dualism lurking in much of modern Western theology, exposing the deepest longings of the human soul as an authentic yearning for union with God."
Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack and Cross Roads
"Fill These Hearts is a cultural balm. Christopher West writes with great love, of great love, drawing readers into His Sacred Heart."
Kathryn Jean Lopez, nationally syndicated columnist and editor-at-large, National Review
"Christopher West has a great gift for theological exploration. In this book he weaves lessons from classical and contemporary art, pop music, movies and the Christian mystical tradition to explore the ancient idea that the yearnings we feel in our bodies and spirits reveal the cry of our hearts for God."
Nicky Gumbel, vicar and bestselling author of Questions of Life
"Drawing deeply from the well of the Theology of the Body, Christopher West explains that the Faith is not simply about following a code of conduct but about Beauty. The beauty of the human body, the beauty of our culture and the beauty of the whole cosmos are all a reflection of this same Beauty. This is the mystery that needs to be proclaimed joyfully for all to hear for it holds the key to joy in this life and the next, for each of us. Above all, West writes with this joy."
David Clayton, Artist in Residence and Fellow at Thomas More College
"Christopher West is a gifted and effective evangelist with a passion for tackling one of the greatest obstacles to belief today: the heresy that Christianity is a joyless, rule-bound religion. Not so, argues West, in this timely, powerful book. Drawing upon Scripture, the saints and the glimmers of truth in pop culture, West reminds us that Christianity is essentially a love story, and Christian sexual ethics exist to help us fulfill, not repress, our deepest desires. For anyone who has ever doubted that Christs call to purity of heart is good news, Fill These Hearts will prove a surprising and consoling read, one with the potential to change your life as well as your mind."
Colleen Carroll Campbell, author of My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir
"In Fill These Hearts, Christopher West explains the nature of desire, freedom, and love, including erotic love. He does so as a believing Catholic, yes. But if you come to this book with the typical prejudices aimed at what Catholics believe about these things, you are likely to be shaken to your very core. Be warned: this book is unlike any other youve ever read. It holds up the spirit of our age as expressed in modern, presumed "secular" idioms like rock n roll and popular movies and places it under the searchlight of the most fundamental understandings of human nature. What emerges is a book that is as knowing about the modern world as it is about the teachings of Christ and the mystic-saints who have followed him throughout the ages. In fact, West brings these phenomena together in a way that has never been done before, and does so without a false note on either score."
John Waters, columnist, The Irish Times and author of Lapsed Agnostic
JeanieKearney, NEAge: 25-34Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5February 21, 2013JeanieKearney, NEAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 3For Catholics, "Christopher West" is Pavlovian for "Theology of the Body." If you're not Catholic, Theology of the Body is Pope John Paul II's first major teaching of his papacy; his "vision of human sexuality, marriage and family life." I had not read West before and I even needed help there to describe what "Theology of the Body" is. And I didn't realize Theology of the Body was that old!
In Fill These Hearts, West likens the ideal union between a man and woman to that of God and us, his people. West points out that the Bible begins and ends with this comparison. The first and last human words spoken in the Bible are the groom's desire for his bride (Genesis 2:23), and the bride's desire for her groom (Revelation 22:17,20), respectively. West says, "Being a Christian...means learning how to direct eros toward that which truly satisfies: the 'nuptial union' of Christ and the Church."
My favorite part of this book is when West describes "stoicism," which I sort of knew existed but had never heard or seen described. I like it because it's exactly the point I wish everyone could hear. West says:
"[T]he general message hanging in the air for a lot of people raised in Christian homes was this: Your desires (especially your sexual desires) are bad, and they will only get you in trouble. So you need to repress, ignore, or otherwise annihilate them. But follow all of these rules and you'll be a good, upstanding Christian citizen. This is not Christianity.... This is lifeless legalism."
(Sound familiar?) West continues, "I'm convinced that this stoic brand of religion is responsible for the fact that large numbers of people raised in Christian homes in the western world have abandoned their faith as adults." I'm convinced, too!
Says Mr. West:
"The stoic tries to avoid the pain of desiring more than this life has to offer by choosing not to want so much, by shutting desire down. As a stoic, I'm afraid of the thirst in my soul to the point of not wanting to open it up. Life's easier that way, and I can feign a certain peace: nothing really troubles me, and nothing really excites me either.... Stoics are usually very well meaning and are rightly concerned about how desires can be impure and misdirected. But rather than working to redirect desire toward its proper end, they shut desire down in favor of a 'dutiful life.'"
Of course, West gives equal space to stoicism's opposite and the ideal. He uses food-related terms: the starvation diet (stoics), fast food (addicts), and the banquet. He describes them like this:
Starvation Diet: "Pleasure is an evil to reject" and "If it feels good, it must be sinful."
Fast Food: "Pleasure is an idol to indulge" and "If it feels good, do it."
The Banquet: "Pleasure is an icon that's meant to point to heaven" and "If it feels good, it's meant to be a preview of coming attractions."
What I like most about this book is that West so well describes the Church's approach toward sexuality: That is, something the Church celebrates and promotes rather than represses or discourages as you so often hear from people who have an ax to grind when it comes to Catholicism. For that reason I wish everyone would read this book, but you know the sad truth is that those who need to read it most will never even know about it. That's why we need to be effective at passing on what we've learned when the moment strikes. Maybe the next book I review should be about evangelism. For now? Onto the parish library shelf this one goes.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.