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Crossing the Threshold of Hope by John Paul…
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Crossing the Threshold of Hope (1994)

by John Paul II

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A great international bestseller, the book in which, on the eve of the millennium, Pope John Paul II brings to an accessible level the great theological concerns of our lives. He goes to the heart of his personal beliefs and speaks with passion about the existence of God; about the dignity of man; about pain, suffering, and evil; about eternal life and the meaning of salvation; about hope; about the relationship of Christianity to other faiths and of Catholicism to other branches of the Christian faith.

With the humility and generosity of spirit for which he is known, John Paul II speaks directly and forthrightly to all people.
  StFrancisofAssisi | Jul 11, 2019 |
Pope John Paul presents his ideas about faith. He is curiously silent about having any communication whatsoever with "God", that is, any actual divine being. He is convicted by the tradition, and thinks the promise of eternal life gives us "hope".

The first chapter is "The Pope: A Scandal and a Mystery." This chapter unfolds little of either, but clearly positions both in the Papacy itself -- a "scandal" to logic and good sense, and in its displaced "father", a mystery and "sign of contradiction." [3]

Our author admits that the Church is changing in the face of discoveries of many recent documents from out of almost all previous ages of the Church, which offer proof that the Church has changed over time. For example, the interviewer points out "Recently in the Church, words have multiplied. {!?} It seems that in the last twenty years more 'documents' have been produced at every level of the Church than in the entire preceding twenty centuries." [178]

And "It must be admitted that this eschatological vision [set forth in the recent Lumen Gentium ] was only faintly present in traditional preaching." [182] He also notes an "insensitivity" to Hell in an afterlife, while "hells on earth" created in this century offer an even greater animadversion. [183] Last Things and eschatology has become "irrelevant to contemporary man". He admits that "the problem of hell has always disturbed thinkers in the Church, beginning with Origen and continuing in our time...Bulgakov and ...Balthasar." [185, without pausing over Origen's unitarianism and the Church persecution]. "In point of fact, the ancient councils rejected the theory of the 'final apocatastasis'."

In the face of paradox, mystery and perplexity, the Pope offers the comfort of silence: "The silence of the Church is, therefore, the only appropriate position for Christian faith." [186]

This work of personal explication is filled with jewels of truth. He clearly condemns the Nazi thugs who took over a great nation and conquered a great continent. But he visits no condemnation upon the wealth, the victory of the criminals who plundered and continue to plunder the vulnerable.

He does visit Auschwitz. This former Polish Bishop notes that Auschwitz is a ceaseless admonishment "constructed on principles of racial hatred and greed for power". He adds "Anti-Semitism is a great sin against humanity, that all racial hatred inevitably leads to the trampling of human dignity." [97]

{While true, that seems to leave the Jews exposed as victims. They suffered quite alone, in Auschwitz, and now while the injustice and thievery remains largely unrepaid, he recognizes them without restitution. Has "human dignity" been restored by justice, or is it still left in the Jewish blood and mud of the camp?} He notes the destroyed synagogues are not rebuilt. [97] Therefore, nor is human dignity restored.

The Papa answers many of the questions put to and indulged by him with paradox. For example, in a mystifying excursus through the "rays of fatherhood" in the father-son paradigm illuminated by the Trinitarian mystery of God Himself in history, Original Sin is the "real fact" which is "truly the key for interpreting reality". [228]

He summarizes his message of himself in the following paradox: "In order to set contemporary man free from fear of himself, of the world, of others, of earthly powers, of oppressive systems, in order to set him free from every manifestation of a servile fear before that 'prevailing force' which believers call God, it is necessary to pray fervently that he will bear and cultivate in his heart that true fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom."
  keylawk | Jun 24, 2019 |
I appreciate that he was attempting a conversation here, although the polemical style is one which does not engage me. He is arguing with a point of view which seems foreign to me. I appreciate, though, the complexity of the subject and his willingness to engage. The commitment to non-violence was evident; his insights were ones of a holy man. ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
This is the first of JPII's books that I've read and it's a bit difficult to transition from Benedict XVI's lyrical books on Jesus to this short question and answer format book by his predecessor. That said, the book reveals a lot of insight on several issues-- notably his high regard for the fruits that Vatican II would eventually bear and which we are just starting to see. Given that he was writing this eighteen years ago (when things still looked pretty dim), it impresses me that he was so consistent that the Council was a necessary and valuable step in Catholic thought and the evolution of ecumenism. I wouldn't use this as an introduction to Catholic thought, however-- it's pretty philosophical at times and a bit much to spring on someone who isn't already acquainted with the basics of Catholicism. ( )
  marti.booker | Dec 2, 2013 |
INDEX
  saintmarysaccden | Oct 25, 2013 |
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"Despite Messori straining every nerve to help ... the Pope emerges as the master of the flat statement, the bland certainty."
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679440585, Hardcover)

Fifteen years into his Papacy, and on the eve of the third millennium, Pope John Paul II goes to the heart of his personal beliefs and speaks with passion about the existence of God; about pain, suffering, and evil; about "salvation"; and about the relationship of Catholicism to other branches of the Christian faith. With the humility and generosity of spirit for which he is well known, John Paul speaks forthrightly to all people. (Religion--Roman Catholic)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:01 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Fifteen years into his Papacy, and on the eve of the third millennium, Pope John Paul II goes to the heart of his personal beliefs and speaks with passion about the existence of God; about pain, suffering, and evil; about "salvation"; and about the relationship of Catholicism to other branches of the Christian faith. With the humility and generosity of spirit for which he is well known, John Paul speaks forthrightly to all people. (Religion--Roman Catholic)… (more)

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