"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).

Monday, August 2, 2021

Whence Cometh and Wither Goeth Human Desire?

My 2019 book Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Ridding the Church of Abuses of Sex and Power is very much indebted to the work of the Spanish priest and psychoanalyst Carlos Dominguez Morano's book Belief After Freud, which every Christian should read, Catholics especially. It is an incredibly challenging book at just the moment when the Catholic Church needs to be challenged, and in the areas he highlights. 

His next book to make an appearance, late last year, in an English translation is The Myth of Desire: Sexuality, Love, and the Self (Lexington Books, October 2020), 254pp. I have a copy and will get around to blogging about it one of these days. "Desire" seems to be one of those topics rising slowly but steadily up the lists of publishers today in the worlds of spirituality and psychology. It will be interesting to see where this goes and where it winds up....

Later this year we will have another book on the topic of desire, though its title does move me to some anticipatory skepticism insofar as it seems to follow the poor poppets of popular psychology today in chasing after fads and desperately trying to copyright certain talismanic phrases in the hopes of cashing in big. One such fad currently on an upward trajectory involves sticking the prefix "neuro" in front of all sorts of things. I would be the first humbly and gratefully to recognize how much we still have to learn about neurology and the brain, but sometimes this "neuro" fad seems overly eager to appear "scientific" and also lazily to find a way around the perennial brain-mind problem, and more broadly the challenges of a proper hermeneutics of science. 

But let that pass and consider The Soul of Desire: Discovering the Neuroscience of Longing, Beauty, and Community by Curt Thompson (IVP Academic, October 2021), 248pp. 

About this forthcoming title the publisher tells us this:

We are people of desire. In The Soul of Desire, psychiatrist Curt Thompson suggests that underneath all our longings is the desire to be known―and what's more, that this fundamental yearning manifests itself in our deep need to make things of beauty, revealing who we are to others. Desire and beauty go hand in hand. But both our craving to be known and our ability to create beauty have been marred by trauma and shame, collapsing our imagination for what God has for us and blinding us to the possibility that beauty could ever emerge from our ashes. Drawing on his work in interpersonal neurobiology and clinical practice, Thompson presents a powerful picture of the capacity of the believing community to reshape our imaginations, hold our desires and griefs together, and invite us into the beauty of God’s presence. The Soul of Desire is a mature, creative work, weaving together neuroscience and spiritual formation to open up new horizons for thinking not only about the nature of the mind, but about what it means to be human.

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