If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know that I have a deep love for the Theology of the Body and Christopher West's take on it, and a fascination with longing and hunger (I just searched all my posts for the word "ache" and discovered it appears many, many times, in no less than 10 posts). So, I excitedly bought Christopher's new book, Fill These Hearts, just two days after it came out in January and am so happy to share it with you today.
In keeping with his gifts and his scholarly background, most of West's books take a theological stance on love and sex. In the introduction to this one, though, he says that he intends to step back from a solely religious outlook and to engage the world and the culture more, the better to counter their many false goods and to explain how even the sentiments felt and choices made in the secular world point to something greater. "This book," he says plainly, "is about desire." The desire every single human person feels to be loved and seen, the desire for intimacy, and the desire for more than this life, whether one recognizes it or not.
Fill These Hearts is centered, then, around who we are, complete and full with our aches. The book moves on to describe how our desires point to our design as men and women created for God, and our destiny to live in communion on earth and in Heaven. Three D's, if you will. So Theology of the Body, but in a way I'd never considered before: in the light of examining what we're most longing for and why we sometimes ignore these longings or settle for less, the culture made sense to me in a new way--West presents the choices people tend to make in response to their desires as either starvation, fast food, or a true feast, and it feels so accurate. It's why so many misinterpret the Church's teachings on sexuality as repressive or prudish, or why some struggle with repression in their own hearts. It's why rejecting chastity and devaluing sex can seem so easy and appealing. It all comes down to our woundedness and our hunger for love.
I have to admit that sometimes, I'm too quick to judge those who fear vulnerability or who buy into the culture's lies about love, masculinity, and femininity. Reading this book, though, softened and humbled my heart in so many ways. I think it provides such an amazing insight into human nature and motivations, and though it does deal with love and sexual desire, it places desire so squarely in the context of Heaven, not just earth, which is a constant reminder to me that everything beautiful in this life is just a tiny taste of what's to come in the next, God willing I get there. What's more, because this book is so accessible, with its frequent references to pop culture and its general candor, I think it could be such a powerful, perspective-changing resource for introducing someone to the Christian life with an honest, truthful vision of who we are, why we feel the ways we do, and what we're meant for. We need to remove our fig leaves, this book says, and all of the worldly things it's easy to hide behind, so that we can truly know ourselves before God. "We need to be loved in our nakedness: warts, blemishes, and all," says West. I'm amazed.
Have any of you read this yet? I'd love to hear your thoughts!