Much like The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, Simon's illuminating book richly and insightfully probes the vagaries of human love through perceptive discussion of the works of theologians, philosophers, and novelists including Flannery O'Connor, Leo Tolstoy, William Kennedy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Eliot, and Isak Dinesen. 214 pages, softcover from Eerdmans.
Often what passes for love is a product of self-deception and wishful thinking. Genuine love, according to philosopher Caroline J. Simon, must be based on knowledge of reality, and Christianity affirms that reality includes not just who people are but the unfolding story of who God intends them to be.
Taking the use of narrative seriously, The Disciplined Heart draws on works of literature to display a Christian understanding of love in its various forms: love of self, love of neighbor, friendship, romantic love, and marital love. Using instances of love and its counterfeits in novels and short stories by such authors as Flannery O'Connor, Leo Tolstoy, George Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Simon constructs an account of love's joys and obligations that both charms and instructs. Learned, astute, and elegantly written, The Disciplined Heart is a groundbreaking work at the intersection of theology, philosophy, and literary analysis.
Caroline J. Simon is provost and executive vice president at Whitworth University, Spokane, Washington.
-- Publishers Weekly
"A penetrating and illuminating glimpse into the vagaries of human love."
"Caroline J. Simon's book is not only a lucid philosophical examination of love but also an important contribution to contemporary philosophical and theological discussion of narrative. It is accessibly written and will appeal to a broad general audience; but it will also be of interest to specialists concerned particularly with the influence of Anders Nygren in Protestant theology and with discussion of both love and narrative in such philosophers as Martha Nussbaum and Iris Murdoch. Readers will appreciate Simon's perceptive discussion of fictional works by Flannery O'Connor, Leo Tolstoy, William Kennedy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Eliot, Wallace Stegner, and Isak Dinesen, as well as her discussion of correspondence between Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright. The book is a delight, both for Simon's insights and for her pointers to others who have participated and are participating in a lively conversation about love and friendship. "
"This is a wise book, written in an engaging dialogue with some of our best novelists, philosophers, and theologians. Simon's profound reflections about the light that love sheds by the fire it carries deserve a wide audience."
"Caroline Simon has given us a wonderful book. She anatomizes our various loves in a way that is challenging, richly insightful, and at times disturbing. The Disciplined Heart invites comparison with C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves, and in some ways surpasses it."