Wisdom and Wonder
How Peter Kreeft Shaped the Next Generation of Catholics
Edited by Brandon Vogt
Ignatius, pp. 208, $17.95
Review by Douglas LeBlanc
Brandon Vogt, senior publishing director of Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, credits philosopher Peter Kreeft of Boston College for his conversion, and he has gathered 17 other essays for this overdue festschrift.
“I think it’s hard to find another figure in American Catholicism who has influenced more conversions to the Church over the last three decades than Peter Kreeft,” Vogt writes. “If he’s not this generation’s premier Catholic convert maker, he’s certainly among the top two or three.”
The book’s authors include Tyler Blanski, who grew up Baptist and became an Episcopalian before committing himself to Catholicism. Blanski’s essay, the briefest and among the most focused, praises Kreeft’s focus on helping his readers say “That’s right” rather than browbeating them into sighing “You’re right.”
Matthew Warner pays tribute not only to Kreeft’s teachings but also to his frequent style. Warner imitates the Socratic dialogue Kreeft used in such books as The Unaborted Socrates, The Best Things in Life, Socrates Meets Freud, and eight other titles.
Bobby and Jackie Angel, in describing how their courtship was affected by their shared love of Kreeft’s writing, say how was not very responsive when Jackie praised his books that had influenced her thinking. “Only when I asked Dr. Kreeft to sign my copy of I Surf, Therefore I Am, his book on the spirituality of surfing, did he come alive,” Bobby writes.
And Jackie responds: “Bobby stole his attention with that silly surfing book.”
Wisdom and Wonder has one persistent flaw: poor editing led to confusion about correct punctuation when quotations are involved.
Don’t let that stop you, though. Kreeft is a treasure, not only for Catholic converts but for any Christian who appreciates clear writing that makes the wisdom of the ages more accessible to modern readers.
Douglas LeBlanc, copy editor of The Living Church, lives near Charleston, South Carolina.