Life is a journey. We’ve all heard that before. Carving out a career path. Finding that special someone. Building lasting friendships. Exploring the wonders of the world.
What about religion? Many people today reduce it to rules and regulations. Even those who do opt for religion often fight against long-held beliefs. What if dogma was a map for that journey? What if truth was a path to real and lasting happiness?
That is the adventure Father Dwight Longenecker can take you on in “The Romance of Religion: Fighting for Goodness, Truth, and Beauty.” It was a joy to read, as Father Longenecker wields wit, humor and the beauty of language as he takes the reader on a captivating journey through the greatest adventure of our lives.
From Cyrano de Bergerac to Reepicheep and from Tevye to Superman, Longenecker unfurls the meaning of the romantic hero and embarking on a quest. It’s about discovering something greater than ourselves, undergoing transformation and finding the extraordinary
(namely God) in the ordinary. Father Longenecker addresses the mounds of opposition to embracing the romantic view and traces the connection to Christianity, in pagan myths and romance novels, and in superhero stories and fairy tales. He ultimately leads the reader to a choice, one that we all have to make over and over again: Who do we say that Jesus is? And what does that mean for our lives?
Even practicing Catholics can lose sight of this journey. We can so easily fall into the trap of stoic respectability and tediousness that Father Longenecker scorns in the introduction. This journey is not passive. We have to fight for it, and the fight, while messy, gives us life and leads us to the source of life.
This is a thought-provoking and inspiring read. I highly recommend it.
Jennifer Rey is a former Web editor at OSV.
For more summer book reviews: Swing into summer reads