Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rock Star Philosopher

I became a fan of Peter Kreeft after listening to his podcast on why women cannot be priests in the Catholic Church. He synthesized the issue brilliantly and made clear something that had never really made sense intellectually in my mind. Aside from his brilliance, I also loved the way that he expressed himself - frankly and straightforward without being pompous.

Since then I have been a Kreeft addict.

When I found out that the postulants were reading Kreeft's book Catholic Christianity for our class this semester on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I was thrilled. I even had a dream shortly after getting the book that Kreeft was actually teaching the class. I was overwhelmed with excitement. But when he came in the room everyone was rudely talking as he tried to teach. Finally, I stood up and yelled, "Hey everyone, maybe you don't realize but this is Peter Kreeft, he is like a rock star! I want to hear him teach!"

The next day I laughed every time my dream came to mind, apparently my subconscious was aware that my love of all things Peter Kreeft had become an obsession.

When our real professor, Dr. Gresham, (who is also an amazing professor even though he is not Peter Kreeft), told us that Peter Kreeft was going to speak at Washington University, I almost jumped out of my seat. I looked around excitedly while the other postulants good-naturedly rolled their eyes.

Thankfully, Cheryl also wanted to go to the talk so I had a partner in crime and we set off to see Kreeft speak the next week. When we arrived, the parking lot was overflowing and we were directed farther down the street. Since we were running late I anxiously looked around for a spot and Cheryl said a quick prayer to St. Paul. Within minutes we saw a perfect spot.

Thanks St. Paul.

Then we scurried off to the talk that was being held in the chapel. When Kreeft came out, I actually felt like I was seeing an actual rock star. But forget Beck, Morrissey and Tori Amos. I'd rather see Peter Kreeft any day. All his talk was lacking was the pyrotechnics and dry ice.

Kreeft gave a talk chock full of information and ideas. Breezing through it as if everyone is as smart as him, Kreeft talked about a variety of topics. My pen could not write fast enough.

But, one point he made really stuck with me. He was talking about the need for evangelization by the laity. He exhorted the audience that evangelizing should be the primary goal of the layperson in the Church.

But he cautioned, we are never going to attract people to the Church if we do not know Jesus. Knowing Jesus is the most important key to evangelization. If we do not know Jesus, it is useless. How can we attract Protestants to the Church if we know Jesus less than they do, (which sadly is often the case)? Kreeft said, "If we do not put the fire in the fireplace of our own parishes, people will look for the fire elsewhere." He concluded that the Church will never be one until Catholics grow to know Jesus better so we can attract our brothers and sisters back.

Following his usual method of giving talks, Kreeft skipped from theme to theme, following rough notes but mostly being inspired by the Holy Spirit. He challenged the audience and there were a few moments when I noted people actually squirming in their seats. But by the end, people seemed thoroughly satisfied with Kreeft's breath of fresh air personality, his honesty and frankness minus the negativity that can often come along with that type of personality.

During the questions, I debated whether or not to stand up. In the end, I did not. But if I had, I would have asked him, "How can we become saints?" This in the end, is the most important thing according to Peter Kreeft - to know Jesus and to become saints. The solutions to all of the Church's and the world's other problems lie in that.

I have a sneaking suspicion he is right, (and I am not biased or anything).

For more Peter Kreeft, I recommend listening to his podcast on beauty, it is one of my favorites and very Pauline.

In Jesus,



Cheryl said...

According to the guy behind Dr Kreeft's website, "[Dr. Kreeft] frequently says there's no spiritual technology. You just love God with all you are."

And he sent me links to his podcasts which covers this topic which I sent you in another email.

tagnes said...

i love that you emailed the web guru behind kreeft's web site. that is so cheryl.