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This American Babylon

March 13, 2009

My copy of Richard John Neuhaus’ American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile arrived yesterday. It’s so strange to see him referred to in the past tense on the jacket. How could this new work, so vital, not have a living author anymore? The mind understands but the heart rejects the information. Neuhaus lives!

Interesting cover: I thought that Amazon had mistreated the book. That’s the point. The metallic sheen and title looks scraped and dirty. Very effective, almost too much so.

•••

I couldn’t sleep last night so I got up at 3AM and took a peek. I know I’m going to love this book even though I still miss him dearly. I could really use his guidance during this difficult time. From the first couple pages:

Exile suggests alienation, but this book is not an exercise in the literature of alienation that was so popular a few decades ago….

I write… for those who accept, and accept with gratitude, their creaturely existence within the scandal of particularity that is their place in a world far short of the best of all possible worlds. This world, for all its well-earned dissatisfactions, is worthy of our love and allegiance. It is a self -flattering conceit to think we deserve a better world. What’s wrong with this one begins with us. And yet we are dissatisfied. Our restless discontent takes the form not of complaint but of hope. There is a promise not yet fulfilled. One lives in discontented gratitude for the promise, which is to say one lives in hope.

Hope: discontented gratitude for a promise unfilfilled.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 14, 2009 10:10 am

    Thanks for this – did not know it was available yet. I’m on it.

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