In The Romance of Religion: Fighting for Goodness, Truth, and Beauty; Father Dwight Longenecker takes the reader on a journey to discover their faith in ways that they may have never pondered before. Is faith for the romantic? The dreamer sees things in more than just black and white or the reality of solid objects they can see and touch. Yes…that is exactly what it takes to be an avid believer and Fr. Longenecker makes the case in this excellent book. Father takes on many aspects of religion in a defense of religion reminiscent of Chesterton and C.S. Lewis.
The chapters of the book detail what it means to be a believer in religion and a Creator greater than ourselves. One such example is where he superbly sets science on its ear. He discusses how materialists believe in the unseen when it comes to scientific thought but refuse to believe in religious matters as if they were imaginative child’s play. “he himself believes in a wonderful, mysterious, invisible world…..he tells me about radio waves and microwaves and X – rays and gamma rays, and I learn that all forms of energy can be changed into other forms….Then he tells me that light is very mysterious and it behaves as both s particle and a wave at the same time….and that this is a deep mystery even he cannot understand or explain.. I must accept everything he tells me about his invisible world., the mysterious powers he believes in, and the seemingly irrational behaviors of these invisible powers. I can’t understand why he disbelieves in angels and demons. While I accept with delight all the wonderful tales he tells me about his invisible beings and mysterious realms of power, I am sad that he scorns my own account of similar encounters.”
In another section of the book Father Longenecker touches upon what it means to be a warrior. Not in the sense of going to physical war but spiritual battle. This section is really superbly done and acts as a beacon call to all Christians today. I particularly liked how he compared the opposite sides on the value of life. He clearly showed how the unbeliever, the person who puts value on the material and shrugs off the spiritual realm, thinks. This approach in the end has a powerful effect. This section of the book is a call to arms against today’s society. A society which chooses to not defend against anything because it has taken the approach that whatever is good for you is acceptable and whatever is good for me is acceptable. Thus life becomes another object that can be easily disposed of as if only a distraction.
There are many other topics covered within the 216 pages of this book and I can only touch upon a few that stood out to me. Father Longenecker stated in the book that: “It is the work of the poet and the priest to wrest new meaning from words and to make new connections that break open our hearts so the light can get in.” His book does exactly that. He takes us on a deep exploration on what religion is by using words to paint an unforgettable portrait. He does a commendable job looking at both sides of the subject, believers and unbelievers and what makes each tick. This is an accessible book to most but one that will take some time to digest due to the broadness of the topic. For me and for you it is time well spent. ____________________________________________________________________________________________
I received a copy of this book for the review from the publisher Thomas Nelson. If you would like to learn more about the book or purchase a copy click on the title in the review above.