Tuesday, April 19, 2005


This is what's currently on my bedside, er, table. Since I have a futon-cum-air cushion for a bed, technically what I have is a bookrest beside me. I read PJP2's Crossing the Threshold of Hope in high school, and this best seller is now what I'm reading. However, the cover of my copy is different (Asian release?). It uses the photo I used in my Farewell, Father blog (see below, April 2). Moving slowly for now because it's back to work and we are expecting guests.

Allow me to quote a review of the book by Jamie Doward of The Guardian (March 13, 2005):

"How much longer can Karol Wojtyla's suffering continue? It is a question asked almost daily as the world awaits the news that Pope John Paul II has died. Just when the frail pontiff seems to have no energy left, he defies the pessimists and rises from his hospital bed to reassert his influence over the Catholic church.

It is timely, then, that as camera crews wait on standby for news of his death that he should choose to publish a modest reflection on his life. Running to just 224 pages, Memory and Identity: Personal Reflections could never do justice to a life that has spanned the Nazis' invasion of the Pope's native Poland to the current situation in Iraq.

But what this short memoir will do is allow John Paul II to establish a dialogue with scholars long after he is dead. Each short chapter covers a key theme that has emerged during his lifetime, from the horrors of totalitarianism to the reunification of eastern and western Europe.

There are discussions devoted to the nature and limit of evil, freedom, patriotism; the nation state; the Enlightenment and Europe. As he attempts to use his memoir to square Christianity with modernity, thinkers as diverse as Descartes, Marx and Sartre are name-checked.

This does not make for an easy read and sometimes the memoir resembles a manifesto, the last act of a king determined to guide his subjects once he is gone. As the Pope observes towards the end of the book: 'Humanity is called to advance beyond death, even beyond time.' On this, we can all agree."

Here's hoping I can finish this soon. I have a 30-book backlog as of this month. Sigh. Now, more than ever, I really wish there were like 8 or 10 of me, each "me" doing something else. Now, wouldn't that be swell!

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