By Reid Oslin
Prof. Peter Kreeft (Philosophy), noted Catholic apologist, author of more than 40 books, quoted widely on C. S. Lewis and on J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, remains as prolific as he is provocative. He was featured recently on a PBS program, "The Question of God," contrasting the worldviews of Lewis and Sigmund Freud. Kreeft also is producing a philosophy series for Ignatius Press that takes a Socratic approach to the Great Books, maintains a web page showcasing his writings and lectures, and is finishing a novel.
Chronicle caught up with him this past week for Kreeftian commentary on politics, on his latest projects and on the Red Sox. Some excerpts:
On faith and politics, and whether a political leader should check his faith at the cloakroom door: "A faith that one checks at any door is really a pagan faith, not a faith in the one God who created everything and whose mind and will is therefore the source of all truth and goodness everywhere in the world, even in politics, but a pagan or polytheistic faith in many gods, or in one of many gods - perhaps one of 175 million.
"The legitimate and fruitful debate is just how the connection is made, and how clear it is, and how distinctive. Obviously there is not going to be a distinctively religious, or distinctively Christian, or distinctively Catholic, answer to every political question. And Catholics rightly differ about all sorts of important political questions. But not about whether there is any such connection. Can you imagine St. Thomas More checking his religion at the door of King Henry's throne room?"
On what he's working on now: "I'm writing a series of introductions to important, short, and fairly simple Great Books of philosophy by having Socrates meet their authors in Purgatory (their purgatory, his Heaven) and give them something between a Socratic cross-examination and an Oxford tutorial on their books. So far Machiavelli (The Prince) and Marx (The Communist Manifesto) are published, and Sartre (Existentialism and Human Emotions) is next; then Descartes (Discourse on Method), Kant (Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals) and Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents), at the rate of probably one a year.
"I'm also finishing up - I hope - a novel I've been working on for almost 15 years, on the connection between Jesus Christ, dead Vikings, Islam in the art of body-surfing, Jewish mother substitutes, post-abortion trauma, Russian prophets, the demon Hurricano, sassy black feminists, deaf and dumb rubber dancers, the Palestinian 'intifadah,' the mystical lure of the sea, the sea serpent, two and a half popes, the Unified Field Theory, the disguises of angels, the dooms of the Boston Red Sox, the perpetual identity crisis of Catholic universities, the apocalypse, and just a few other things. It begins when blood drips from the sword of St. Michael the Archangel in the Gasson Hall rotunda."
On the Red Sox and whether their winning the Series would signal the End Times: "The clearest apocalyptic sign conceivable would be a seventh game World Series win by the Cursed Sox. That would indicate not only a change in the cosmos but in the Creator. Can any New Yorker even imagine God ceasing to be a Yankee fan? We are indeed the Chosen People of baseball, chosen to suffer and be the sign to the whole world. If the unthinkable ever happens, everyone will be as confused as a robot in an electrical storm. We simply would not know what to do.
"It is no accident that there are more philosophers per population in Boston than in any other city. For philosophy is the love of wisdom, and wisdom comes through suffering, and we have our beloved bleeding Red Sox."