Pope Benedict XVI

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Can anyone out there recommend a truly compelling work by Cardinal Ratzinger? (I know that he has not yet had an opportunity to produce great work as a Pope.) I ask because I have now tried three different books and find that my eyes snap shut almost before I am out of the introduction. When I make my way into the body of the work, I find that I can't seem to follow the thread of thought, chain or reason, or logic of the piece. I drift in and out and end up wondering why I'm reading. I've had better success with the larger of the two interview books, the name of which escapes me. But Introduction to Christianity lulled me quickly into a pseudo-reading stupor so too with the book of essays about communion and ecumenism.

I'd like to see what everyone else sees to rave about, but honestly, at the present time I don't. Could be my choice of works, or could be that that door simply will not open for me. In that case tant pis. I know there are those who did not see the attraction of John Paul the Magnificent's poetry and prose and I would be hard pressed to explain it to them. But I'm thinking that I've just started with the wrong works and once I get a good leg up these books, forming part of a greater oeuvre will fall into their proper places.

So, any suggestions as to where to start?

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Steven, I've had the same problem. I tried Spirit of the Liturgy years ago, and, despit ethe best intentions in the world, got hopelessly bogged down around page 56.

I wonder if the thought that is being conveyed is too laden with the jargon of philosophy/theology to be readily followed by someone without that background, or is it all just a fault of the translator, who is not producing an English-language version that is "reader friendly."

I am thinking of trying The Journey Towards Easter, to see if it is any better.

Perhaps another way of approaching him is through his "Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year". The book is seems almost blog-like in its varied, post-sized meditations.

I would suggest, "In the Beginning," by Ratzinger. It's several homilies on the theme of creation: quite readable and accessible. Some things, like academic theology, are more difficult to read than others (Absolam Absolam by Faulkner is perhaps the hardest thing I've ever read, but it was worth it). When reading more difficult academic work, I often begin by taking notes in a notebook and outlining. I try to read at a time of day when I'm refreshed and to set modest limits for how much I can plow through in a day. Interviews are just about my favorite form of theological literature.

I have to say that I got bogged down in "Co-Workers". So far I'm having the best luck with "Salt of the Earth" which is another interview book.

His style of writing definitely isn't for everyone and as much as I personally enjoy it, I can equally sympathize with those who don't appreciate it . . . word of warning, if Introduction is not to your taste, don't pick up Truth and Tolerance; despite the title it can get very dry and philosophical at times. =)

Like Julie D., I'd definitely recommend Salt of the Earth or the sequel interview w. Peter Seewald, God and the World -- both convey his personality as well as his ideas (developed at greater length in his other books). Both also chart the spiritual development of Peter Seewald himself, who began a jaded and cynical journalist / lapsed Catholic and via his exchange with the Cardinal found his way back to the faith.

Dear Mr. Blosser,

Thanks so much for your reply. It is very helpful and meaningful coming from one whose admiration is so great. I have been enjoying (greatly, in fact) God in the World, although I don't really consider it Ratzinger (or Pope Benedict) so much as the work of another author exposing the thought of our present Pope--not that that is a bad thing--it isn't, but it is a different voice--the speaking voice, if you will. But I will look up the other as well. How is Milestones?





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 28, 2005 10:57 AM.

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