The Autobiography of 'Isa Ben Adam. "On the connections between Jesus Christ, Muhammad, dead Vikings, sassy Black feminists, Dutch Calvinist seminarians, large mother substitutes, armless nature mystics, Caribbean rubber dancers, three popes in one year, Cortez, Romeo and Juliet, the wandering Jew, the sea serpent, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the demon Hurricano, Islam in the art of body surfing, the universal fate wave theory, the Palestinian intifada, the fatal beauty of the sea, dreams of Jungian archetypes, the dooms of the Boston Red Sox, abortion wars, the great blizzard of '78, the wisdom of the "handicapped," the ecumenical jihad, the psychology of suicide, the disguises of angels, and the end of the world."
[In the publisher's words:] This is the damnedest novel you'll ever read. It's more an autobiography or a rumination on the state of man's soul from an exciting and fascinating writer. I can only compare it to reading 'The Brothers Karamazov' the second time, after you realize that the whole center section on the teachings of Fr. Zosima is the central core of the novel or, if you have a larger capacity for crap than I have, reading Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' without becoming a cult member. It is belles lettres, metaphysics and physics combined, psychology, theology, and spirituality as related by a beguiling story-teller. It is like reading the last few pages of Hegel, without the suffering that it took to get there, or finally seeing the whole grand structure of Thomas Aquinas, when the theory of everything and the synthesis that ties all of life together become visible through the maze.
[In the author's words:] I have written almost sixty books, but this one is very different from all the others. For one thing, it took 20 years. I had to wait patiently for it to grow, like a tree. I was not in control of it; it kept changing, as I watched at it and let it do what it did, like an animal out of its cage.... Ocean is about connections: In the sense it is my Theory of Everything; it shows in a story the surprising, invisible, yet powerful connections among things. Philosophy, science, and theology can state, define, and argue for those connections, but story is more convincing because it presents them, shows them. That's why story is more powerful than philosophy in convincing us. (How many Romans were converted by Christian theology? How many by the Gospel story?) No philosopher was able to convince me that "we are each responsible for all." But Dostoevsky did: he showed it in The Brothers Karamazov.
Peter J. Kreeft (Ph.D., Fordham University) is professor of philosophy at Boston College where he has taught since 1965. A popular lecturer, he has also taught at many other colleges, seminaries and educational institutions in the eastern United States. Kreeft has written more than fifty books, including The Best Things in Life, The Journey, How to Win the Culture War and, with Ronald Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics.
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