Thursday, July 16, 2009

Theology For Beginners

This is my second reading of Theology For Beginners -- mostly because I can barely remember the first. What I do remember was at the time (probably sometime between '02-'04) it didn't seem a book 'for beginners'. This time, perhaps due to the reading I've done in the interim, it was much easier to understand. It's still very theoretical. Theology, after all, being 'the study of' God -- the most impenetrable mystery of all time -- it now amazes me Mr. Sheed has made this book as accessible as he has.

There were many things I liked about this book including the explanation of spirit/soul/body and their relationship(s) to each other. The whole spirit-soul 'thing' actually made sense after reading this explanation, spirit being not only a key word, but the key word. It 'is the element in us by which we know and love, by which we therefore decide.' Souls, on the other hand are marvellous and they animate the bodies, the life-principles, of all living things including plants and animals. So my cat has soul, but not a spirit, if I understand Mr. Sheed correctly. However, the human soul not only animates the body, it has powers of its own, powers utterly outside the possibilities of matter. (p. 62)

And then there were other pearls of Wisdom scattered throughout which I tried to collect (highlight) and add to memory, such as:

- . . . evolution and creation. These are answers to two totally different questions. Creation answers the question why does anything exist, why isn't there nothing? Evolution is a theory as to how the universe did develop once it existed. Upon how it came to exist, evolution sheds no light whatever. (p. 58)

- We are born without sanctifying grace. That is what is meant by being born in original sin, which is not to be thought of as a stain on the soul, but as the absence of that grace without which we cannot . . . reach the goal for which God destined man. (p. 80)

- It is by the saints, and not by the mediocre . . . that the Church is to be judged. A medicine must be judged not by those who buy it but by those who actually take it. (p. 116)

Theology For Beginners is really very basic theology. For some it will just whet the appetite. For others, it will saturate. Whichever is the case, as Mr Sheed says in his Foreword, 'you cannot love someone you do not know. You cannot love God well if you know Him poorly.'

"While it is obvious that an ignorant man can be virtuous, it is equally obvious that ignorance is no virtue." ~~Frank Sheed

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