The Right Coast

April 04, 2005
Weigel on John Paul
By Tom Smith

Not surprisingly, the best thing I have read on the Holy Father's death so far.

As you may know, George Weigel is the author of the massive biography of JP, Witness to Hope.
I'm listening to the abridged version on tape, which is a sensible way to go if you're not in the market for a very thick biography at the moment. There is much to recommend the book, though some may find its slightly haigiographical tone offputting (though how do you write a biography of someone who probably is a saint, without making it sound like the biography of saint?).

Just a couple of things the book has made me think about. First, the role of historical consciousness and national identity in resistance. A big part of reminding Poles that they were human beings during the Nazi and Soviet occupations was reminding them that they were Poles, with their own history and faith. Conversely, the Nazis and Soviets were very keen to wipe that memory out.

Second, a lot of stuff on the Pope's philosophical background. Unfortunately, a find a lot of phenomenological talk completely obscure, and I gather that was the tradition John Paul wrote in.