Item description for Blaise Pascal (Library of Religious Biography Series) by Marvin R. O'Connell...
Overview During the great 17th-century French renaissance, one voice for God could not be stilled by the mocking intellectuals and ruling despots of the day: Blaise Pascal. The renowned scientist and poet rose above his frail health and violent times with a ringing call to repentance and salvation---a call that continues to be heard 'round the world today. Here is his remarkable story! 210 pages, softcover from Eerdmans.
Publishers Description Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), mathematician, physicist, inventor, and religious thinker was a man at odds with his time. The optimism of the Enlightenment and the belief among philosophers and scientists that the universe was both discoverable and rational made them feel invincible. Reason alone, declared the intellectuals, could discover a God of natural religion that was to replace the God of traditional Christianity. Pascal, on the other hand, was not so confident. In his Pensees, he wrote, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces fills me with dread." For Pascal, the universe was full of a mystery that went far beyond the powers of reason. Blaise Pascal: Reasons of the Heart, the latest addition to Eerdmans LIBRARY OF RELIGIOUS BIOGRAPHY series, captures Pascal's life and times with a chronicle narrative based on the published sources and Pascal's own works. Marvin O'Connell takes readers on an eloquent journey into Pascal's world, showing the passion that drove the man and the radical spirituality he sought in his own heart. In the process, O'Connell also illumines the social, political, and religious intrigue of seventeenth-century Paris, especially the winner-take-all struggle between the Jesuits and the Jansenists, with whom Pascal himself was allied. Written in an enjoyable style accessible to all, this meticulously researched biography will acquaint readers with the life and thought of Blaise Pascal, a remarkable human being and luminous Christian thinker.
Citations And Professional Reviews Blaise Pascal (Library of Religious Biography Series) by Marvin R. O'Connell has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 06/15/1997 page 80
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Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.36" Width: 6.7" Height: 0.6" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 1999
Publisher Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Series Library of Religious Biography
ISBN 0802801587 ISBN13 9780802801586
Reviews - What do customers think about Blaise Pascal (Library of Religious Biography Series)?
A Good Description of Pascal's Theology! May 3, 2008
Not a bad introduction to Pascal's life, but be forewarned: this is not a beginner's book. The author dives deeply into the details of Pascal's and the Jansenists' theology, so if you're just looking for the basic facts you're not going to like this one. Still, there's a good introduction into his thinking and writing here with a lot of historical and theological background included.
Reasons of the Heart Apr 17, 2006
Although in the beginning of the book the reader may be confused by the fact that the author explains many historical facts of the time, if bare with the author the reader shall find that this information is fully needed to be able to understand Pascal's life and efforts better. I thought that the book was very informing although could be a bit boring at times.
A Fine Intro to Pascal for Americans Jul 19, 2005
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662,) along with Michel de Montaigne, has always incarnated the French ideal of the introspective intellectual, the man of thought engaged with the vital questions of his time, the theorist of existence fearlessly involved in life's choices. He has been a key figure to Christian and secular thinkers alike, both for his deep psychological insights into man's inner workings-his own-as well as keen analysis of what goes into said man's options. Pascal is to French culture what Jonathan Edwards and Carl Jung, rolled into one, are to American culture.
Pascal's dense, rich analytical prose has been a decisive influence in the language of personal expression, in French and therefore in all language. Existentialism and psychoanalysis owe much to Pascal, who was, himself, a passionately committed Christian moralist. Largely ignored in the 18th Century, and known only to a few French intellectuals in the 19th, Pascal came to the fore in the 20th: the century of the conscious and the subconscious.
Marvin Richard O' Connell writes a præternaturally clear, entertaining, unpretentious short biography, suitably aware of the necessities of the dumbed-down, but never condescending. Ethical controversies in 17th Century France are eminently complicated to non-specialists, but O' Connell manages to keep things going with utmost confidence and gusto; no mean feat. He avoids the severity of French intellectual prose, but never sounds banale. A fine contribution.
BlueJay54 on Blaise Pascal ??? Please Jan 30, 2003
Bluejay54 You Had Me interested at the beginning with your comments. You sounded reasonably intelligent until I came to your comment:
Mind you, one should not expect to learn this from a Christian writer and a Christian publishing house, but Pascal's natal astrology chart clearly illustrates the problems and paradoxes that he faced in life: Venus in Cancer squaring the Moon's Nodes and opposing Mars in Capricorn, with healing Chiron in Taurus, and a Stellium (Jupiter conjunct Saturn conjunct Uranus) in Leo. No wonder Pascal felt so torn by fame-and-fortune seeking of his keen mind, yet was irresistibly drawn to a fiery fundamentalism and an ascetic life-style!
Christianity, Pascal--NO God Himself--can't be Viewed, Explained, argued Logically, or Intelligently from "ASTROLOGICAL" Premises.
I did however find your comments, amusing, and commical.
What reasons? Nov 30, 2001
Make no mistake: this is *not* a book about Pascal the man, nor even a book about Pascal the (ascetic) Christian, but an excruciatingly painful book about the minutiae of Pasal's historical milieu and a long-winded discussion of the Jesuit/Jansenist dispute. I found the writing awkward in the extreme, with topical areas abstruse and singularly irrelevant to learning anything particularly useful about Pascal's life. (Well, given Pascal's later penchant for asceticism and renunciation of all pleasures--like enjoying steak dinners, the company of friends, or exercising his intellectual curiosity by inventing probability theory--at least that style was rhetorically appropriate!) Most of what *was" useful here can easily be found elsewhere. For example, when the converted Pascal visited his secular friends, he used to wear a belt studded with pins or nails on the inside so they poked him painfully in the waist, lest he enjoy their company too much. This fact I discovered in Guinness' introductory essay to Houston's "Mind on Fire" and *not* in the present book. In fact, I learned more about Pascal there and from on-line biographies that from this piece of work. Mind you, one should not expect to learn this from a Christian writer and a Christian publishing house, but Pascal's natal astrology chart clearly illustrates the problems and paradoxes that he faced in life: Venus in Cancer squaring the Moon's Nodes and opposing Mars in Capricorn, with healing Chiron in Taurus, and a Stellium (Jupiter conjunct Saturn conjunct Uranus) in Leo. No wonder Pascal felt so torn by fame-and-fortune seeking of his keen mind, yet was irresistibly drawn to a fiery fundamentalism and an ascetic life-style! But all Mr. O'Connell can do is muster up a bit of pity for poor Blaise's "restless heart [that] never quite purged itself of a lust for fame and worldly success ." Overall, the book did virtually nothing to illuminate the quote that inspired the title: "The heart has its reasons, of which Reason knows nothing," which was my reason for reading the book. Nor does it adequately explain other paradoxes: How could a genius like Pascal, fundamentalist or not, turn in a friend to the religious police for being a heretic? Why he was so bonded to his sister and why, with Cancer so prominent in his chart, did he never marry? Why his extremist embrace of original sin and human depravity? The book may have value or even be a big hit among believing Christians. But for a pagan neo-Vedantist yogi like me, this book shed absolutely no light at all on how a genius like Pascal wrestled with Ego to reconcile himself to Abstinence or (to paraphrase Kant) how he denied Reason in order to affirm Spirit. I'll have to find those reasons elsewhere....