Two by Peter Kreeft

Two by Peter Kreeft

I just finished reading Best Things in Life. Very enjoyable, as I’ve found every one of Peter Kreeft’s books that I’ve picked up so far.

The Best Things in Life is a Socratic dialogue, literally. Socrates shows up at a modern college campus, Desperate State University, and engages two students, Peter Pragma and Felicia Flake, in series of discussions. If you’ve read Plato, you’re familiar with the question and answer format. Peter is, as you might have guessed, a hard-nosed materialist. He’s trying to decide whether to major in business or pre-med, based mostly on which will make him more successful. Felicia is your typical pothead, new-agey type into sex, drugs and rock and roll. The dialogues are entertaining and witty but also very good introductions to some of the most basic philosophic questions. 

This book would be perfect for any college student or for more mature high schoolers. Or really for any adult interested in making up for a lack in philosophic education. Though the philosophic concepts were not new to me, I thoroughly enjoyed the dilogues for the way they explored ancient ideas in a modern context, for the characterization, and the good writing.

Another Kreeft book I read recently is Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death With John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley. This book takes its inspiration from the odd coincidence that Kennedy, Lewis and Huxley all died on the same day. It imagines the three of them meeting in some sort of celestial way station before heading off to their eternal destinations and having a friendly chat about religion, God, life after death, etc.

For Kreeft’s purposes the characters are based on the historical men; but each is also used to represent a particular philosophical viewpoint: Lewis as a Christian theist, Kennedy as a modern secular humanist and Huxley as an Eastern pantheist. The real focus of the dialogue is on the positions these men represent rather than on portraying them accurately. It’s definitely a work of philosophical speculation, not biography, though Kreeft does draw on biographical details and especially on Lewis’ writings.

This book provides a good, accessible outline of the Christian response to both secular humanism and to eastern pantheism, but even more to the sort of new-agey spirituality that draws on eastern roots. Another perfect read for high schoolers, college students and for those looking for answers as well as those who think they already know the answers. I left it with my mom when we went to Texas and she’s looking forward to reading it.


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