Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mesmerized by "Camus and the Minister"

I am reading a book by Howard Mumma called "Albert Camus and the Minister". It is one of the more interesting books I have ever read. In the book, Mumma, an American Methodist minister, recounts dialogues he had with famous existentialists, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre over a period of many years while he was pastor at the American Church in Paris beginning in the 1950's.

It is an incredible and credible exploration of the questions of life and how Christianity and Existentialism intersect and diverge in amazing ways. It is a beautiful presentation of these competing world views told by riveting dialogue and amazingly clear details!

Quotes from Camus:

"I am searching for something I do not have, something I am not sure I can even define"

" I am a disillusioned and exhausted man. I have lost faith, lost hope, ever since the rise of Hitler. Is it any wonder that, at my age, I am looking for something to believe in?"

"You know, I have made a great deal of money because I have been somehow able to articulate man's disillusionment with man... I spoke of the meaningless and uncertainty... this is the root of my despair."

"When I first met Jean-Paul Sartre, I agreed we should leave God out of the discussion, although I have always left open the possibility...but I now find (Sarte's) attempt to find meaning in life lacking. I am no longer satisfied with his answers."

As I continue in the book I find it fascinating to see the honesty and educational fire of Camus. I am less than impressed with Sartre. He seems fully pleased with his philosophy and unwilling to question it. Right now, Camus is teachable and Sartre is hardened in his pride. Camus is shy and Sartre loves the limelight.

The minister Mumma is equally impressive and up to the task. Ultimately, his liberal view of God's word will leave him powerless to offer real change to either. At some point, all the arguments must move to the heart and only God's Spirit can remove the veil.

To be continued......

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