Guarded By Mystery
Meaning in a Postmodern Age
Clearly we have entered an era of heightened interest in spirituality. The proliferation of books, music, and paraphernalia espousing the way of the spirit is a striking phenomenon. Everywhere there is a new willingness to admit that the categories of rational thought, the authority of science, are no longer adequate to the task of making sense of our lives. A search for meaning has become pervasive.
Equally striking has been the rise of experiential religion. Evangelical and fundamentalist churches are the fastest growing denominations worldwide. This is no accident, for they respond exactly to the failure of the modern forms of life. The modern ethos, for all its technological prowess, is experienced as an abyss of misery and confusion. The only way out is to leap over the entire modern perspective to locate oneself within the security of a divinely revealed faith.
The difficulty, according to author David Walsh, is that neither the new age religions nor the old-time religions have enabled us to leap out of the modern world. The discovery of a source of meaning beyond that world does not automatically clarify all meaning within it. Finding a way to link the modern rational order and a spirituality pointing beyond it is what this book is about. Guarded By Mystery is a contemporary meditation on a problem that has been at the core of the human condition. It is intended for all who have been perplexed by the disconnection between the two worlds in which they live. Walsh explains how their experience of spiritual openness is meaningful within the modern world. He shows how that world is itself dependent on the same sources of spiritual illumination they have discovered within themselves.
David Walsh is professor of politics at The Catholic University of America. He is the author of numerous works including, After Ideology: Recovering the Spiritual Foundations of Freedom, The Growth of the Liberal Soul, and The Third Millennium.
"[Walsh] writes about the spiritual quest in a time dubbed 'postmodern,' meaning that the older rational securities have been shattered. Walsh ranges widely—from literary criticism to politics and art—in lifting up the luminous hints of the transcendent in the everyday. A most thoughtful reflection that should have a broad appeal."—First Things
"At the beginning of a new century and new millennium, we can be grateful for such a wise and experienced guide as David Walsh as we explore the promise and pitfalls in our historical moment. Of most particular note is his intelligently hopeful understanding of the liberal democratic tradition and the ways in which modernity, after a century of catastrophically wrong turns, may now be fulfilling its aspiration toward transcendence. As he convincingly argues, the mystery to which contemporary thought is increasing open is not a threat but our surest guard."—Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, editor in chief, First Things
"An engrossing read . . . a superb tract for the times that is just made to order. . . . Walsh's book is an apologia for the reality of God and for God's grounding of human existence on both the personal and socio-political levels in a postmodern time."—Prof. William M. Thompson, Duquesne University
"Written for a general audience, yet informed by the wisdom of the ages and enlivened by an elegant gift of language, David Walsh's searching meditation on the heights and depths of human existence is a philosopher's illumination of reality of rare beauty and power.
It ranges from politics to faith to the arts to find glimmers of hope and unsuspected sources of succor for a time out of joint. It celebrates the individual human person, as imago Dei, the abiding glory of creation. And it explores liberty, the prize of personality and of
political order alike, through which we are uniquely drawn to meaningful partic
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