Book Club Channel
The Saving Power of Sex: An Interview with Christopher West
I'd say that pretty well sums up the last few years of my life. In some ways, I think I had become "too secure" in the healing I had received through John Paul II's teaching. As a result, I convinced myself that I had some sort of "strength" to offer the Church and the world. The Lord, in his mercy, has been helping me see that all I really have to offer is my weakness. The TOB is a message of how God's grace is sufficient for us, and how God's power is made perfect in our weakness. That's been the wisdom of the TOB that I've been taking to heart. We carry a treasure in fragile, earthen vessels. And the only thing we have to boast in is our weakness.
Often, the best book ideas come while you're writing a book. Have you started the next one?
You're right. I think the final chapter of At the Heart of the Gospel is the most important. It's called "The New Evangelization and the Way of Beauty," and it certainly got the ideas flowing for my next book. In this chapter I chart a course for reaching the modern world with the Gospel based on a recent document from the Pontifical Council for Culture called The Way of Beauty. Evangelization must be an encounter with created beauty that leads to Uncreated Beauty, to God. Beauty "creates a fertile terrain to listen and dialogue" with the culture, says the Pontifical Council for Culture. It helps us "to get in touch with many of those who face great difficulties in receiving the Church's teachings, particularly regarding morals." An "essential function of genuine beauty," as Pope Benedict wrote, "is that it gives man a healthy 'shock,' it draws him out of himself, wrenches him away from . . . the humdrum--it even makes him suffer, piercing him like a dart, but in so doing it 'reawakens' him, opening afresh the eyes of his heart and mind, giving him wings, carrying him aloft."
For a few years now, I have been working with a team of seasoned artists and musicians developing a live event called Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing. Our goal is to proclaim the Gospel through beauty in a way that appeals to the hearts of men and women formed by contemporary culture. Pope's Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI have all stressed that the Church needs artists to fulfill her missionary task, and we are taking that very seriously. My next book, which carries the same title as the event itself, is based on the presentations that I've developed for these events. It's inspired by Christ's command to "go into the main streets and invite everyone to the wedding feast." It's scheduled to be one of Random House's feature publications this fall.
Visit the Patheos Book Club to read more—including an excerpt—from At the Heart of the Gospel.
Deborah Arca joined the Patheos team after more than ten years managing programs for the Program in Christian Spirituality at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Deborah has also been a youth minister, a director of Christian Education and music/theatre programs for young people and has served as a music director for worship and special retreats.