Is Christianity a bland, domesticated religion, unthreatening and easy to grasp? Or is it the most exotic, unexpected, and uncanny of religious paths? For the mystics and saints -- and for Robert Barron who discovered Christianity through them -- it is surely the strangest way. "At its very center, " writes Barron, "is a God who comes after us with a reckless abandon, breaking open his own heart in love in order to include us in the rhythm of his own life." What could be more compelling?
I'd been wanting to read this for a while so was glad when Scott chose it for an upcoming Good Story podcast episode. This was written in 2002 when Robert Barron was a priest, before he really came to wide-spread Catholic fame as an online presence. It is like Barron in a nutshell — engaging, conversational, explaining to believers how to live that "strangest way" of the cross in our everyday lives.
Barron takes three pieces of literature and uses them as guides to each of the three paths necessary for a fully engaged Christian life. Brideshead Revisited launches the discussion of Finding the Center, Dante's Purgatorio takes us through Knowing You're a Sinner, and Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away engages us in Realizing Your Life is Not About You. Each path is woven through with a tapestry of philosophy, culture, and pop culture that deepen the conversation. Several practices for each path are recommended at the end of each section and these have their own rich discussions.
I found the book inspiring and enlightening. I have read and recommended several of Bishop Barron's books before but I'd say this is the key one of those I've read. Highly recommended.