When I got my hands on a copy of On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century, I knew I'd be reading it. I assumed I'd be whipping through it (which, yes, is always my assumption).
I was wrong. I actually read it rather slowly, and it was like chocolate melting slowly on my mind as I soaked it in and resolved to reread it someday.
The book is a conversation between Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis) and Rabbi Abraham Skorka. They consider a variety of topics in 29 chapters, from abortion and euthanasia to God, the devil, and atheists. They discuss guilt and prayer, death and divorce, women and politics.
Did you ever sit nearby while your parents or other adults had important conversations nearby? I catch myself as the conversation-holder now with my nieces or children around. And I remember how that listening shaped me, forced me to think and reason, taught me the value of dialog (as opposed to debate).
This book is a written version of that back-and-forth, and when it's done, you have a real sense of Pope Francis's voice, of his grounding, of his love.
I had zero interest in some of the topics until I started reading their conversation. I found myself highlighting as much of Skorka's comment as I did Bergoglio's.
I can’t emphasize enough how wonderful a read this book is. It made me consider the true function not only of having dialog but also of reading this sort of work or listening to the back-and-forth of wise and learned people. It gave me a sense of who Pope Francis truly is. He's a man with friends and he's not afraid of facing the tough topics head-on and talking about that.
A highly recommended addition to your home library and a book that would make a great gift for just about anyone in your life.
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Copyright 2013, Sarah Reinhard
About the Author
When she’s not chasing kids, chugging coffee, or juggling work, Sarah Reinhard’s usually trying to stay up read just one…more…chapter. She writes and works in the midst of rural farm life with little ones underfoot. She is part of the team for the award-winning Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, as well as the author of a number of books. You can join her for a weekday take on Catholic life by subscribing to Three Shots and follow her writing at Snoring Scholar.