When I finished this splendid book, I looked for information about the author, the book itself not offering much. Father Mansini teaches theology at Saint Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana, a Benedictine institution. I hope his students recognize how lucky they are.
One rich vein of philosophy focuses on matters of everyday experience that are of enormous significance, but to which we are never likely to devote more than ten consecutive minutes of uninterrupted attention. Mansini takes up the subject of promising and rotates it for our instruction and delight, always in the governing context of "the promise God makes to us in Christ."
So "this book is about promises, and why we should keep them"especially what Mansini calls "life promises," such as marriage vows and the vows of a priest, promises of a kind that seem to be broken far more often today than in the past.
Why is that? We get a quick tour of modern philosophy's versions of promising, in which Thomas Hobbes and Friedrich Nietzsche are exemplary figures. If a promise is rightly understood as a "device to conquer time"what a wonderful phrase!and if many people nowadays suppose there is no eternity in which fidelity will be fulfilled, perhaps promising doesn't make much sense.
That's a grim prospect. But it's all the more reason to choose differently and to keep our promises, remaining confident that God will keep his.
Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Promising and the Good is available from Amazon.com and other book retailers.
More information is available from Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University.
More about Guy Mansini is available from his faculty page at Saint Meinrad.
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