I first heard of Joseph Pearce in 2011 when I came across a copy of Literary Converts in a Catholic bookstore. I was captivated by his study of the spiritual lives of some converts to the Catholic faith who were also among the great names in the English literary world. I met him for the first time in January of this year when he was the keynote speaker at a Tolkien Conference hosted by my parish. The conference explored the Catholicism of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I was quite impressed with his intelligence and wonderful sense of humor, but also his great humility. For all of his literary and speaking accomplishments, he is in many ways just an average fellow who loves his wife and children dearly and tries to serve Christ and His Church with the great gifts he has been given.
If we were to name some of his considerable accomplishments, we would learn that Joseph Pearce is the author of best-selling biographies of major Christian literary figures, such as Shakespeare, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, and Oscar Wilde. His biography of Alexander Solzhenitsyn won the coveted Pollock Award for Christian Biography. He is editor of the St. Austin Review (www.staustinreview.com), executive director of Catholic Courses, series editor of the Ignatius Critical Editions. Pearce is also a writer in residence and an associate professor of literature at Ave Maria University in Florida.
But, the subject of this post is not about my admiration for Joseph Pearce as a writer, but about his brand new book, Beauteous Truth: Faith, Reason, Literature & Culture, which explores the connection between the Good, the True and the Beautiful. The book makes the important connections between faith and reason and between theology, philosophy, history and literature. Drawn from his numerous essays in the St. Austin Review and other publications, Pearce’s new book deftly gives an overview of Western Civilization from Homer to Tolkien, and highlights the importance of the great figures of the Catholic cultural revival. Modern man is clearly lost and Beauteous Truth offers a means to cut through the surrounding fog and help us understand that we were created by a Heavenly Father who loves us and we are made for Heaven, not this world. I love the book and strongly encourage you to buy a copy for yourself and one for a friend. Trust me, they will thank you.
Looking to gather additional author insights for my post, I reached out to Joseph Pearce for a brief interview about Beauteous Truth.
Joseph, what led you to write Beauteous Truth? The book is a collection of some of your past excellent essays and articles, but was there a catalyst that led you to put this book out at this particular time?
“The book was really inspired by the example of great Catholic writers of the past, especially Chesterton and Belloc, whose articles for newspapers, which constituted the bulk of their work, were subsequently published in volumes of essays. If it wasn’t for the fact that these essays were collected in single volumes, later generations would not have been able to read them. As a beneficiary of the great wisdom to be found in the essays of Belloc and Chesterton, I have more reason than most to be grateful that they were preserved for posterity through their being collected in this manner. I make no claim that my writing deserves to be seen on a similar level to that of these illustrious writers (of course!) but I do hope that many of the essays that I’ve written over the years will find a new readership through their being published in this new volume. I should also add that they have been arranged thematically in such a way that the book does not resemble a collection of unrelated essays, thrown together in a haphazard manner, but forms a coherent and cohesive whole.”
Your book reads like a road map of sorts that draws on faith, reason, culture and literature to make the case for God. Is modern man lost? Is the world at a “cultural crossroads” desperately seeking the illumination of Christ, as one of your reviewers stated?
“Modern man is indeed lost and in the case of nihilistic post-modern man is hopelessly lost. Lacking hope, purpose or meaning, he is sinking into the Slough of Despond and is desperately in need of rescue. The union of faith and reason to be found in Christ and His Church is the only way out of the quicksand of modernity. My book looks at how faith and reason are present in the goodness, truth and beauty of Christian civilization.”
I loved your book and found it to be nourishment for both my head and my soul. What is your greatest hope for the other readers of the book?
“I am gratified and greatly encouraged to learn that you have found my book nourishing intellectually and spiritually. It is indeed my hope that those who read the book will be both educated and edified, that they will grow in knowledge of the faith and reason that underpins any true understanding of reality and that their hearts will be lifted in gratitude for the great gifts of civilization that we have been given and lifted in praise for the One from whom all goodness, truth and beauty flows.”
Beauteous Truth is widely available in Catholic bookstores, B & N, Amazon and through St. Augustine Press.
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