Summer Reading

For over twenty years I have been writing the "Religion Book Notes" for Commonweal so it may seem a bit intrusive to recommend a book on this site but I have just finished Terry Eagleton's "The Meaning of Life" (Oxford University Press). The title may seem like a sketch for Monty Python but Eagleton not only thinks that one can talk about such lofty matters but does so in the face of both the modernists who lament the loss of meaning and the postmodenists who resist anything that smacks of metanarrative. Eagleton is one of the best literary critics writing today and his command of contemporary philosophy, literary criticism, and popular culture is not only impressive but lightly worn. I will not reveal what he thinks the meaning of life is but I will say that he thinks it may be found in something asserted in the New Testament. It is a little book both in its pocket size and brevity (187 pages). It is an accessible read and, as he says wittily, it is the only book on this topic that does not recount the story of Bertrand Russell and the taxicab driver. If you get that allusion, this is your kind of book.

Lawrence Cunningham is John O'Brien professor of Theology (Emeritus) at the University of Notre Dame.

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