Simcha Wood's Reviews > Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion

Man Is Not Alone by Abraham Joshua Heschel
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Oct 15, 2011

it was amazing
Read from August 20 to October 15, 2011

This is not the sort of book one reads and then shoves back on the shelf to collect dust. It is, instead, one of those rare works which will constantly call the reader back, if only to glance over a page or two. Heschel's book is subtitled A Philosophy of Religion but it might have as accurately been subtitled A Poetics of Religion. Heschel is very much the philosopher poet.

Heschel is the sort of theologian the modern world needs. He is a deeply religious man who has no illusions about the difficulties of accessing faith and the ability to sense God. This is not the sort of theological work that is going to bother providing "proofs" for the existence of God. God is, after all, the Ineffable. Like the very weirdness of our existence itself. Heschel is not interested in proving God's existence - and would likely consider such an act to be rather pointless - instead he meditates on what this existence means for us as self-aware beings. Without driving a particular dogma or doctrine, Heschel makes a case for the need to live a life based on something more than the small vanities that constantly entice us to focus on the small and trivial details of existence.

That said, this is the sort of book that defies any easy summation or synopsis. Heschel is a deep, complicated thinker and this book is a deep, complicated book. Heschel is a truly gifted writer, and he conveys his ideas in an easily accessible prose. But it is these ideas, nuanced and convoluted, that demand more than a single read. Man is Not Alone is the sort of book that the serious reader will never feel he has thoroughly completed.
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