Section I – Opening Remarks

Click here for the series introduction and Part 1: “Finding God in the Blood and Guts of Birth and the Big Bang” by Fred Tribuzzo

Part 2: “A Search For An Authentic Life” by Alec Ott

Part 3: “Life-Changing Literature” by Chris Queen

Part 4: “To Know The Truth About The World” by Jon Bishop

Part 5: “The Long Road To Becoming An Essential Author” by David M. Swindle

Section II – Dialogue

Part 6: “If You Love Western Civilization, You Will Love God” by Fred Tribuzzo

A recent Sunday Mass reading struck me and stayed with me because it hit home on a private level. I thought of it again after re-reading Jon Bishop’s personal take on Andrew Klavan’s biography. In relation to Klavan’s life, Jon wrote of his own spiritual wanderings and frequent mental anguish at night during high school. I relate to this mainly in the area of suffering from anxiety, which also played a part in Klavan’s struggle with mental illness.

This leads me to the reading that struck me so. It’s from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 4, verses 6-9:

Do not worry about anything, but in everything

by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,

will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. *

St. Paul exhorts us to “…not worry about anything… let your requests be made known to God.” This simple truth reminds us that we always have recourse with God and that anxiety need not impact our lives at all, ever. While this is easily and often forgotten by believers (myself very much included), it is also a sad fact that non-believers have no such avenue of relief at all, ever. They must necessarily shoulder everything in their lives on their own. The weight of the burden can be overwhelming and leading to depression and sometimes mental illness, as suffered by Klavan.

It is also a warning that should we stray away from God again, we will take back again all our problems and worries on our own. And if we leave God, we will also leave behind that peace that “surpasses all understanding.” When I am reminded of this, I wonder how I could ever possibly stray away — it would be far too difficult to live my life in this way, full of my anxieties and burdens.

But I could stray away quite easily, I also realize. The world and life with all its problems can come at us, at times even on a moment-to-moment basis. Thus, I must be constantly reminded of God’s word by reading it, which I do on a daily basis either by attending Mass or keeping up with the Daily Readings for Mass (most graciously sent to my email box by the United States Conference of Bishops each morning). Klavan’s journey had him reading the Bible and other great inspirational books of Western Culture. And Jon reminds us as well of the importance of great spiritual reading, listing his own favorites, Merton and Augustine.

Klavan’s bio, and Jon’s reaction to it, both recalled to me the importance of exposing ourselves to good thoughts and ideas in our spiritual journey. We can so easily be led astray with dark ideas and trashy entertainment. St. Paul, in that same passage quoted above, continues his divinely inspired advice:

Finally, beloved,

whatever is true, whatever is honorable,

whatever is just, whatever is pure,

whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable,

if there is any excellence

and if there is anything worthy of praise,

think about these things.

Keep on doing what you have learned and received

and heard and seen in me,

and the God of peace will be with you. *

I believe that such attributes of honor, justice, purity, and excellence may be found in the great works of Western Literature that Klavan read, and in his own biography. It is worthy reading, as Jon so rightly points out. We are well advised to add it to our list of reading, for spiritual and entertainment value alike.

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* The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Photo by Tyler Neyens