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On Kreeft's "Bucket List"

I haven't seen it, but Rob Reiner's The Bucket List has not received great reviews. Despite that, the idea of getting things done before it is too late seems to be a growing trend. In today's New York Times, another movie that deals with mortality and how to spend our dwindling days, Amy Redford's The Guitar, is profiled.Boston College professor and philosopher Peter Kreeft has also jumped on this theme and titled his new book Before I Go. Granted, Professor Kreeft has not received a serious diagnosis recently nor does he have plans to "kick the bucket" anytime soon. It's just that he is 70 and wants to say what he wants to say, specifically to his children. An article from last week's Boston Globe mentions how most of the wisdom Professor Kreeft wants to offer to his four grown children comes from his Catholic faith.A devout Catholic, Kreeft is also a well-known scholar on the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. When asked why he decided to publish this book, since it is really only directed towards his children, Kreeft responds:

Because all children are very similar, and all parents are very similar, and all wisdom is very similar. What's true is true.

This is an interesting idea. I don't know that I would necessarily say that all children and all parents are similar, but having taken a class with Kreeft and having read a few of his books, it doesn't surprise me that he thinks this. In general, and especially on issues of morality, he is an absolutist. He says this about Catholicism:

One of the reasons I became a Catholic when I was in college is my discovery of the astonishing gap between what the church teaches and what she practices. Her practice has been extremely spotty - she hasn't lived up to her ideals very well at all - and yet her ideals have remained the same and consistent and faithful and very high.

When asked if "any ideals the church holds" are wrong, Kreeft replies:

No. The church claims to be the authentic voice of Christ and his apostles on earth. If that claim isn't true, it's arrogant and blasphemous. If it is true, well, you eat all the food that Mother Church puts on your plate. Which does not mean it's a complete meal. The church never claims to give you all the answers.

See the entire article for more of this interview. Looks like Kreeft can check "Leave book with thoughts on God and life for the kids" off of his bucket list.

About the Author

Marianne L. Tierney is a PhD student in theology at Boston College.



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Hello All,Those of you who are interested in the thought of Professor Kreeft might be interested in the following review I wrote of the abridgment of Aquinas' Summa Theologiae for Amazon titled "A Fine Abridgement That Should Be Used With Care":

On one of our wedding anniversaries years ago, I put a holographic will (if you write it in your own handwriting, it's legal, and it doesn't cost anything) in our joint safety deposit box, with a list of special bequests of stuff Raber would be likely to pack off to the Salvation Army unless he knew better.I also keep an updated list of when the kid and the cats need doctor visits, shots, and etc. And a separate list of where to find important documents, bank account numbers, etc. There are minute instructions for how I want to be cared for if I am unable to communicate (and two close friends have copies to make sure it gets done). And there are also directions for the wake (no booze, no singing "Danny Boy,") and funeral. After 9/11, I added a letter to my son, though it's nothing like Professor Kreeft's; I wanted to make sure my kid knew how much he's made my life funnier and happier, how worthwhile he is and what I admire in him.My husband found all of this intensely morbid, almost offensive, as if I'm nagging him from The Beyond. He'll be grateful, though, if I'm wiped out by a Peterbilt on the way to work someday.You never know how soon you'll have to kick that bucket.

I never cease to be amazed that people like Kreeft never seem to acknowledge something called the hierarchy of truths, or, as was pointed out when I was a kid, the difference between creed, code and cult.

I also recommend planning for your funeral! By this I mean working with who will most likely be the presiding priest and discussing your preferences in music and readings. And commit it to writing so that there is no questions when The Time comes.That idea was quite morbid to me 30+ years ago, but now that I am in my late 60's that is not the kind of morbidity that bothers me.

Kreeft does not lack self promotion with his own website plus 231 friends on my space. Marianne, you put him on the map in our circle which he ordinarily chooses such places as Ave Maria University. I hope he does not have any daughters as he is sure not an inclusivist.

Wow. That's quite a website. does he get his name to appear over the ocean?

Hello Cathleen (and all),>Wow. Thats quite a website.> kidding! I had not seen his web site till you alerted me to it.>How does he get his name to appear over the ocean?I could not tell you. I don't even know how to create a web site, even though before I entered academia I had a prior career in credit and direct marketing and was once quite literate in all things personal computer.I've suspected for some time that Prof. Kreeft is one of the best known professional philosophers in America and this web site confirms this. Kreeft has published many books that are directed to a very general audience and address subjects that are of great popular interest. His books are also circulated far more widely than the books of most other professional philosophers. I think he is even better known outside the philosophical profession than Alasdair MacIntyre. Offhand the only professional philosophers I can think of who are better known for being public intellectuals are Dan Dennett and Peter Singer. But I think I am safe in saying that Kreeft is a nonentity in the philosophy profession. (And just to be clear I mean no expression of my personal opinion of Kreeft's philosophical work. I think it would be improper for me to voice such an opinion in a public forum such as ours. All I mean is that professional philosophers ignore Kreeft's work in print and discussion. While I have studied some of Kreeft's work I have never seen it cited in any peer reviewed philosophical journal or book.)

Do grown children need a book of wisdom? If Kreeft is 70, I presume his kids are already grown. Writing such a book strikes me more as an exersise in egotism than anything else.I don't know, though. I haven't read Kreeft's book.However, at my age, I would rather receive from my parents a list of things they were thankful for in their lives, and perhaps even see my name counted among their blessings.

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