Book Notes: "Faith and Reason"

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I failed the only philosophy class I ever took.

Though questions of existence, purpose, reason and happiness burned in my heart and mind the self-directed course-by-mail offered no friendship in my quest for truth. And so, I dropped the class after the allowable date and headed for the beach with my besties. However, I continued to read and discuss philosophy, craving (and sometimes finding) companions along the way. In Faith and Reason- Philosophers explain their Turn to Catholicism, by Brian Besong and Jonathan Fuqua (Ignatius Press), I find those longed-for friends of the mind. You can too.

Conversion Stories of the Mind

Do you love to hear people’s stories of trials, temptations, critical junctions, failures and finally redemption? This book is full of them – but with a twist. This is the mental journey of passionate people. The circumstances of where and who help to shape the scene but the hero of these stories are the questions and the answers. In this book each author takes me by the hand to shows me explicitly what he (or she) was thinking, where his doubts lay, what emotional difficulties were playing on him and how vice biased his mind. I felt right at home and easily could relate to many of their struggles. It also held many gifts for me since they had pursued the questions farther than I have. These are people who have done their due diligence in attending to the pain of the mind to know the truth.

Faith and Reason: Ignatius Press

Personal and Conversational Style

Although, my summer temptations of sand, sun, and fun were too much to overcome my desire to analyze Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” or drink in Leisure: The Basis of Culture with Josef Pieper, the authors of this book make the topic fun and conversational. Their mental ups and downs are riddled with relational stories with girlfriends, parents, and students. For them, this is not a purely academic endeavor; it is life.

Reveals the Scientific Problem

A few of the philosophers in Faith and Reason went through years of being atheists and so, from the inside out, they are able to unearth some of the tension points between the Catholic world-view and the modern atheist outlook which currently threatens much of society everywhere. This books particularly excels in addressing the problem of materialism (the atheistic belief that everything only boils down to matter). A handful of the ten philosophers show that modern atheism and many scientific impulses since the enlightenment disregards an entire branch of reason – metaphysics – as a means of discovering truth and focuses only on empirically knowable data. However, the metaphysical foundations are what hold up that measurable, quantifiable discovery and are discernable by reason. Those foundational reasons are also what lay the foundations for openness to revelation and faith.

Answers Protestant Objections

Most of the philosophers also had to personally overcome internal resistance to becoming Catholic because of Protestant objections. Is the Catholic Church what she claims? What does she claim? Peter Kreeft expounds on quick clips answering ten of his biggest fears of Catholicism, while others take a longer approach regarding the Bible, authority, Mary, and the Eucharist. All of the authors offer substantial apologetics with takeaways for you while merely trying to explain their journey.

Good for Parents of Older Teens

As a mom of young teens, I am aware of the destructive messages being sent to my kids – somehow simultaneously subtle and forceful.

Many college and high school classes (from secular and Catholic institutes) rip open a Pandora’s box of doubt leading to despair. Most people don’t know where to go with the questions that arise. Others accept the mental landscape of confusion and distrust as the new norm and fail to purse the truth, turning instead to the practical living of their day to day. They may not even recognize the violence that has been done to the foundation of truth.

The conversion stories in Faith and Reason cover many of the ups and downs experienced in classes from science, to English to history. I hope to refer back to these passages for clarity and relational guidance as my kids and I discuss atheism, materialism and Protestant roadblocks to staying Catholic. When they get older, there are sections I’ll share with them to read.

Do you have a son or daughter entering college? This book is not the essential reading of “how to get along with a roommate” or “campus safety” but it may very well help your child get along in the room of her soul and deliver safety through a punch in the stomach to that stalker of the mind on campus.

Incredible Resources

The footnotes in Faith and Reason are worth the price of college admission. When these high caliber philosophers turned to our Lord in the faith, they happened upon incredible books. In personal ways, they mention those authors who most moved them and they specify how. Sometimes, the footnotes include a well though-out argument clarifying a point of apologetics that was not part of their conversion story but is necessary for the reader to understand. The resources mentioned hold years and years of follow up study – should you have the time and inclination. However, for me, the quick read satisfied and clarified much of the confusion I didn’t even know I had. I believe I have a firmer footing in reality and the faith because of my journey with these philosophers.

You Too Can be a Philosopher Turning to the Lord

We all want the truth. We all want to turn to the Lord. Faith and Reason can help you to do that — to till the soil of your mind so that it can be fertile for the growth of your faith.

Visit our Book Notes archive.


Copyright 2019 Carrie Soukup

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About Author

Carrie Soukup writes at GraceFinders.com, compelled by St. Therese, Brother Lawrence, and St. Ignatius to help others connect intimately with God in and through the craziness of life. She has served as a curriculum writer, campus minister, high school theology teacher and retreat director. On a great day, you can find her hiking or cycling with her husband and four children.

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