Hederman turns a pithy phrase, and the temptation to splice together a review made up entirely of his own words is difficult to resist. A monk of Glenstal Abbey in Limerick for over thirty years, Brother Hederman studied in Paris under the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas and has lectured on philosophy and literature around the world. ''Desire,'' he writes ''is the gap between what I am
and what I want
.'' It is a vacuum, an empty cave at the base of our consciousness we must ''crawl into, and make sense of, if we are ever to come to terms with who we really are.'' One part psychology, philosophy, biology and literary illustration, Hederman's exposition is a bold and thoughtful examination of how we love, or stifle love, as humans imperfect but also divine. More particularly, it is an examination of the ways desire informs our love -- either destroying us with its insatiability (love not as love but as lust) or allowing itself transformation from ''the good for me'' to ''the good in itself'' (a borrow from Aquinas). Here he is clear: transformation cannot occur apart from renunciation. Renunciation is the ''act of love,'' the practice that allows the other the privilege to be and let be. Devoting an entire chapter to physical intimacy, Hederman underscores the body's requisite place in personhood, the geography by which ''loving surrender skin to skin is a ritual'' making ''humility easier.'' Our task as lovers is to learn to dwell at humility's frontier, to stay desire's road and walk it with care and precision, for only in the humility of our desire can we stand and be readied for God's active presence.
An Eighth Day View:
Forget what you've read about romantic, peaceful love. The way we really love each other, and the way God loves us, is messy, chaotic, and unpredictable. The author traces this crazy love through literature, popular culture, and religious history in this reflective, wise book.