Sitting Down with Pope Francis: On Heaven and Earth

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When I got my hands on a copy of On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century, I knew I’d be reading it. I assumed I’d be whipping through it (which, yes, is always my assumption).

I was wrong. I actually read it rather slowly, and it was like chocolate melting slowly on my mind as I soaked it in and resolved to reread it someday.

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The book is a conversation between Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis) and Rabbi Abraham Skorka. They consider a variety of topics in 29 chapters, from abortion and euthanasia to God, the devil, and atheists. They discuss guilt and prayer, death and divorce, women and politics.

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Did you ever sit nearby while your parents or other adults had important conversations nearby? I catch myself as the conversation-holder now with my nieces or children around. And I remember how that listening shaped me, forced me to think and reason, taught me the value of dialog (as opposed to debate).

This book is a written version of that back-and-forth, and when it’s done, you have a real sense of Pope Francis’s voice, of his grounding, of his love.

I had zero interest in some of the topics until I started reading their conversation. I found myself highlighting as much of Skorka’s comment as I did Bergoglio’s.

I can’t emphasize enough how wonderful a read this book is. It made me consider the true function not only of having dialog but also of reading this sort of work or listening to the back-and-forth of wise and learned people. It gave me a sense of who Pope Francis truly is. He’s a man with friends and he’s not afraid of facing the tough topics head-on and talking about that.

A highly recommended addition to your home library and a book that would make a great gift for just about anyone in your life.

Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.

Copyright 2013, Sarah Reinhard

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