Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fighting the Noonday Devil

Fighting the NoonDay Devil: and Other Essays Personal and Theological
R. R. Reno, Eerdmans, 2011, 108 pp., ISBN 978-0-8028-6547-2, $16.00 (paperback).
This is the author's version of a work that was submitted/accepted for publication in the following source:
Catholic Library World, Mar 2012, Vol.82 Issue 3, p210.
Reno, professor of theology at Creighton University, senior editor at First Things, offers a collection of essays ranging from attending his daughter’s bat mitzvah, working in the oil fields of Wyoming, climbing the mountains in the Alps to engaging Pope Paul John II and Pope Benedict on the crisis of modern education. The common theme is the emphasis on the particular and material nature of life. For example, the first essay, “Fighting the Noonday Devil,” Reno disputes the idea that pride is the “cardinal sin and primary barrier to faith” (1). Instead, he asserts that the Christian tradition often thought that “acedia” (sloth) was the more dangerous sin. Reno notes that sloth is not “mere idleness or laziness;” it can be also “a dullness of the soul that can stem from restless, distracted activity” (3). Reno applies this idea to the “intellectual spirit of dispassion and coolness that grows out of the idea of critical distance”(5). This idea describes how modern man does not want to make a commitment. Father James V. Schall has spoken on modern’s man despair of truth itself.
Reno’s experience at his daughter’s bat mitzvah also emphasizes the materiality of life. The practice of circumcision is physical. The person bears the marks of commitment in their own body. Living out this commitment also separates. Reno speaks of his daughter’s trauma of not having her father at her side. He was on the outside because he was not Jewish. Reno emphasizes in this essay that God took on human flesh in Jesus Christ. He also notes the dangers of dualism and Gnosticism.
These essays are thoughtful, well-written essays that have something important to say. They are both autobiographical and reflections on some of the author’s experiences. It is recommended for college and seminary libraries.

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