"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Desire Giveth and Desire Taketh Away

I once had a professor, whose lovely temperament I knew to be immune to be temptations to sadism, nonetheless try to get me to read Lonergan. And then when I got hired at the University of Saint Francis, my predecessor as departmental chairman, David Fleischacker, was another Lonerganian who suggested we read Method in Theology together. At no point have I ever been able to see what the attraction of Lonergan is: having to read him feels like a forced march through a sweltering and tangled jungle. As I've long thought, for a Canadian he writes like a Teuton--prolix, leaden, and lethal. Those who are into Lonergan seem to be all in; and for the rest of us, his attractions remain recondite. But that could be just me.

Nevertheless, I am genuinely looking forward to reading a new book that draws on Lonergan to treat a topic I am increasingly preoccupied with, viz., desire (as I've noted in talking about Freud, and more recently Sarah Coakley's work). The new work is Randall S. Rosenberg's, The Givenness of Desire: Concrete Subjectivity and the Natural Desire to See God (University of Toronto Press, 2018), 288pp.

About this book the publisher tells us the following:
In The Givenness of Desire, Randall S. Rosenberg examines the human desire for God through the lens of Lonergan’s "concrete subjectivity." Rosenberg engages and integrates two major scholarly developments: the tension between Neo-Thomists and scholars of Henri de Lubac over our natural desire to see God and the theological appropriation of the mimetic theory of René Girard, with an emphasis on the saints as models of desire. With Lonergan as an integrating thread, the author engages a variety of thinkers, including Hans Urs von Balthasar, Jean-Luc Marion, René Girard, James Alison, Lawrence Feingold, and John Milbank, among others. The theme of concrete subjectivity helps to resist the tendency of equating too easily the natural desire for being with the natural desire for God without at the same time acknowledging the widespread distortion of desire found in the consumer culture that infects contemporary life. The Givenness of Desire investigates our paradoxical desire for God that is rooted in both the natural and supernatural.

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