Christopher West has once again given us a book that presents points from Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, in an approachable, easy to read book. Saint Augustine said “Our life is a gymnasium of desire.” The question becomes what do we do with our desire?
From the first pages of Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing, the author opens with an interesting point that human longing or desire is not limited to only romantic love or sexual desire. This eros is the desire within us that seeks love and ultimately the eternal love of God . As Christopher states , “Part of that longing for completeness is in fact our sexual identity. A male’s body makes no sense of itself and the same for the female’s body. Together they are complete and the ultimate answer to that inner longing.” Was this a random evolutionary act or the fact that a loving God is trying to tell us who we are by creating us this way? This book attempts to explain that.
The book itself is divided into three parts “Desire, Design and Destiny.” I found the most interesting part to be the first part. When it comes to addressing these longings Christopher points out that we have three choices or “gospels” as he calls them.
1 – The Starvation Diet Gospel. Based on the heresy of Jansenism this “gospel” believes in ignoring the desire and hoping it goes away. These followers are stoic choosing to avoid the pain of desire by effectively trying to shut desire down. This leads to death by malnutrition so to speak.
2 – The Fast Food Gospel. This “gospel” pursues non-committed, pregnancy free, sexual indulgence with the end result of immediate gratification. Those who follow this are addicts who gorge themselves to appease their desires. In the end this poisons our system with “unhealthy food”.3 – The Banquet. This is the ultimate prize where in the end we fulfill our destiny knowing we will obtain the true happiness of eternity with God. These followers are mystics in a sense, who deal with daily pain of desire knowing the reward that comes in the end.
Throughout the book Christopher uses sound theological evidence from Popes, Saints and Scripture. He also intermixes musical references from cultural icons like U2, Bruce Springsteen and John Mayer at the beginning of each chapter. Additionally he sprinkles movie references throughout. This in no way takes away from the book but instead roots it deeply in our modern world.
This is the first of Mr. West’s book I have read, I hope to change that as it was a very well written book. It was easy to read and comes in at 176 pages in length. I know that Christopher is well versed in the Theology of the Body and it shows in this book. If you have any interest at all in John Paul the Greats Theology of the Body this book would be an excellent choice.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.