Monday, February 22, 2010

Peter Kreeft

Friday night I had the privilege of eating dinner with Peter Kreeft, one of the great Christian philosophers of our day (pronounced Krayft, as in "Beethoven"). Pictured below...Me, Pete, Alex, and Dan.
Here's what I learned from the conversation:

Kreeft came across as a black and white guy, which I didn't fully expect. Alex, a brilliant guy in his own right, and Kreeft discussed how hard we should be on Karl Marx. Kreeft put the deaths of 100 million people on him, while Alex encouraged us to learn something from what he had to say. They also got into a similar discussion about Rousseau, who I know little about.

When I asked Kreeft what he thought about the new atheist movement (Hitchens, Dawkins, etc), he dismissed them and their arguments as unoriginal. "If you want to read a real atheist with consistent arguments, read Nietzche." I asked what modern books are must reads if we want to understand modern thought and he dismissed them all. He basically said that although they are marketable and appeal to the masses, they don't hold a candle to the philosophical rigor of previous thinkers. He said there's nothing quite as brilliant as Locke and Kant, and modern minds just can't appreciate it.

I disagreed with him.

I said, "I'm pretty sure that the contemporaries of Locke and Kant probably had a hard time reading them as well. When I read "Critique of Pure Reason" and "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding" in college, they were almost unreadable. It's said of Kantian philosophers that they are angry people." Alex had my back with Kant, saying that even Germans read Kant's translated essays in English, because they are so difficult in German. But Alex wasn't much help on defending Locke, because he's an expert on him.

Kreeft basically said, "Your generation watches too much TV and doesn't have the mental capacity for it."

He's probably right.

I should wrap this up so I can get back to the Olympics...

Other things I found interesting:

He had never heard of Mark Driscoll.

He hates computers.

He thinks part of the hope for unity in the church is a "charismatic experience." He said the last 3 popes were all baptized in the spirit and performed exorcisms.

He said he's Catholic, not Jesuit, "The Jesuits are like Yankee fans, there are a few good ones."

Regarding Lent fast... "Last year I gave up alcohol, but I found times where some Scotch would've been nice to wash down a bad taste in my mouth. So this year I've gone to increasing alms to the poor. This has made more sense."

Why Evangelicals are often quicker to embrace him than Catholics... he said he always tries to emphasize "Mere Christianity", as C.S. Lewis did.

He thinks preaching should be more narrative and story based than systematic and expositional. "Who wouldn't choose Matthew over Romans?" he asked.

He called his spiritual life, "messy and unorganized, just like everyone else's."

Overall, this guy is brilliant and did a masterful job speaking at our Veritas forum. I could count all the "and um you knows" on no fingers. Filler words were noticeably absent. Every word was profound and perfectly placed. It was an honor to hang out with a man that we will look back on as one of the greatest Christian thinkers and most prolific writers. Period.


Anonymous said...

Phenomenal speaker. His love of Bach and Camus won me over...

James Pusey said...

Not a spiritual comment, but upon first glancing at your photo I though Peter's left hand was YOUR left hand, in some kind of awkward sidehug embrace...

Anonymous said...

Jesus seems pretty black and white too--he wasn't going around saying "we have something to learn from the pharisees". I wonder if speaking in black and white terms excludes the obvious point that we can learn from everyone--even soloman learned from an ant!

clarkitect said...

I find it funny he hates computers. The only reason I know of Peter Kreeft and his speaking engagement is because of computers.

Ed Noble said...

What a great opportunity! I love his um, you know, like lack of filler words.

man said...

I went to salt company loved the message but didn't like the way the speaker intepreted the scripture by saying that it was ok to drink alchahol proverbs 31 verse 4 states that it is not even remotely ok to drink wine or liquor so I didn't really like the way the word was twisted so to speak