Book review: God Matters

God Matters

God Matters

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book for free in exchange
for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post
as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
God Matters
Peter and Charlotte VARDY

Pub. Date:
SCM Press

Nonfiction / Religion / Philosophy
received for review


This book counts for the following Reading Challenge:

     New author challenge


new eiffel 3

At a time when religion tends to disappear from the public sphere, the authors invite here to put again God at the center of reflection on man, truth, and the world. Their book is intended for students in philosophy or theology and anyone taking the time to think. The emphasis is on an accurate use of terms (religion , faith, belief) and the different approach to every facet of this issue in Christian and even pre-Christian centuries. A lot examples are provided, from the great masters of Hindu, Muslim and Jewish wisdom for example, from Christian spirituality, philosophy (from the first philosophers to Alvin Plantinga in particular, often quoted), from psychology, science and the world of arts (literature, cinema). Many quotes, sometimes quite long, come from modern and contemporary Protestant authors. The approach, very clear, intends to be very systematic and objective. Even topics such as miracles and near-death experiences are discussed. Each chapter ends with an excellent summary. One limit to the book: as for the world of Christian liturgy, only the West is taken into account, and the Eastern Christian centuries are completely ignored.

VERDICT: This is a good view of the topic if you need a refresher.


Growing awareness of the inadequacy of religion should make God matter more, not less. “Religion” is not the same as God.


God can be another way of saying “objective truth”, contemplating God a way of reflecting on the implications of reality existing independently of how we human beings see things.
p. IX


To believe in is an attitude which requires that one’s whole being changes.
p. 12


Perhaps human beings are animals, driven by the will to survive and reproduce, perhaps responsibility is a useful fiction and religion is the opium of the masses. Perhaps death is the end, life is ultimately meaningless, brutish and short. Perhaps man is the measure of all things and beauty, truth and justice are open to interpretation. Or, perhaps not. God matters. The choice over whether and what to believe is inescapable because it determines how we live our lives. Nothing matters more. This book encourages and enables students and general readers to ask fundamental questions about the nature and meaning of human life in an open, engaging but academically rigorous way. Centuries of scholarship in the Philosophy of Religion, from Jewish and Muslim as well as Christian traditions, are put in context and critically evaluated. Examples from art, film, and literature show the contemporary relevance of debates which have raged throughout human history. provides recommendations for further reading, a rich anthology of primary texts, questions for discussion and related activities. [Goodreads]


Peter Vardy

Dr. Peter Vardy (born 1945) is a British academic, philosopher, theologian and author.
Since 1999 he has held the post of Vice Principal at Heythrop College, London.
Vardy was originally a chartered accountant before becoming an academic.
He holds a Masters Degree in Theology (with distinction) and a Ph.D (on ‘The Concept of Eternity’) from King’s College London and has lectured in Philosophy of Religion at King’s and also at the Institute of Education, London on their Masters Degree in Education program.



Graphic Novels Short Book Reviews

Here is my final post with short reviews to cover all the books I read in 2012

Wrinkle In TimeA Wrinkle In Time
by Madeleine L’Engle/Hope Larson

published in 2012
392 pages

The world already knows Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, Calvin O’Keefe, and the three Mrs–Who, Whatsit, and Which–the memorable and wonderful characters who fight off a dark force and save our universe in the Newbery award-winning classic A Wrinkle in Time. But in 50 years of publication, the book has never been illustrated.  Now, Hope Larson takes the classic story to a new level with her vividly imagined interpretations of tessering and favorite characters like the Happy Medium and Aunt Beast. Perfect for old fans and winning over new ones, this graphic novel adaptation is a must-read. [Goodreads]


I am ashamed to admit I had never read A Wrinkle In Time, also excerpts. So I thought that would be a good introduction to it. It did not do anything to me really, and unfortunately the illustrations did not do much to attract me. I would have preferred more vibrant and detailed drawings. This will remain my only foray into this classic. But I guess if you love this all too famous book, you might be interested in having a look at what a graphic novelist did with it.

Action Philosophers volume 1 and 2Action Philosophers volume 2Action Philosophers volume 1
by Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey

published in 2006
92 and 94  pages

Action Philosophers details the lives and thoughts of history’s A-list brain trust in a hip and humorous fashion that proves that philosophy is not just the province of boring, tweed-enveloped professors. Action Philosophers Giant-Size Thing Volume 1 collects the first three sold-out issues of the smash-hit award -winning comic book series from writer Fred Van Lente and artist Ryan Dunlavey. [Goodreads]


This was a fun way to get reacquainted with some great philosophers, or rather great minds, as you have there some spiritual masters and some psychologists. I thought their basic theories were well summed up, and of course often in a very funny way. So if you are afraid of launching into philosophy, that’s a great springboard.
There are 3 volumes available I believe.
I include larger cover pictures, so that you can see the names of the authors featured in each volume.


I And Thou

I And Thou


Martin BUBER

168 p.

This book counts for

My Dewey Decimal Challenge

and for

The 2011 Non-Fiction Challenge


I and Thou, Martin Buber’s classic philosophical work, is among the 20th century’s foundational documents of religious ethics. “The close association of the relation to God with the relation to one’s fellow-men … is my most essential concern,” Buber explains in the Afterword. Before discussing that relationship, in the book’s final chapter, Buber explains at length the range and ramifications of the ways people treat one another, and the ways they bear themselves in the natural world. “One should beware altogether of understanding the conversation with God … as something that occurs merely apart from or above the everyday,” Buber explains. “God’s address to man penetrates the events in all our lives and all the events in the world around us, everything biographical and everything historical, and turns it into instruction, into demands for you and me.” Throughout I and Thou, Buber argues for an ethic that does not use other people (or books, or trees, or God), and does not consider them objects of one’s own personal experience. Instead, Buber writes, we must learn to consider everything around us as “You” speaking to “me,” and requiring a response. Buber’s dense arguments can be rough going at times, but Walter Kaufmann’s definitive 1970 translation contains hundreds of helpful footnotes providing Buber’s own explanations of the book’s most difficult passages [amazon]


Martin Buber (Hebrew: מרטין בובר‎; February 8, 1878 – June 13, 1965) was an Austrian-born Jewish philosopher best known for his philosophy of dialogue, a form of religious existentialism centered on the distinction between the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relationship.[1][dead link]

Born in Vienna, Buber came from a family of observant Jews, but broke with Jewish custom to pursue secular studies in philosophy. In 1902, Buber became the editor of the weekly Die Welt, the central organ of the Zionist movement, although he later withdrew from organizational work in Zionism. In 1923 Buber wrote his famous essay on existence, Ich und Du (later translated into English as I and Thou), and in 1925 he began translating the Hebrew Bible into the German language.

In 1930 Buber became an honorary professor at the University of Frankfurt am Main, and resigned in protest from his professorship immediately after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. He then founded the Central Office for Jewish Adult Education, which became an increasingly important body as the German government forbade Jews to attend public education. In 1938, Buber left Germany and settled in Jerusalem, in the British Mandate for Palestine, receiving a professorship at Hebrew University and lecturing in anthropology and introductory sociology.

Buber’s wife Paula died in 1958, and he died at his home in the Talbiyeh neighborhood of Jerusalem on June 13, 1965. [wikipedia]

More about Martin Buber  here; and there’s even a Martin Buber Facebook page!


The school year 1982-1983 brought me the delightful discovery of philosophy, and the reading of I And Though was a total revelation to me; it may even have been the unconscious threshold that brought me to conversion. I remember having copied back then dozens and dozens of pages of that book, and I probably quoted it more than once in the 4 hour long essay I had to write the day of the final exam – lucky me, the national theme for the philosophy exam that year was LANGUAGE !

 I still enjoy so much this book, some thirty years later; on a dual basis of philosophy and theology, or spirituality should I say, it’s a deep reflection on the nature of being, of ‘being in communion’, to use the title of another book I’m currently reading.

I don’t think I have ever read anything as profound on the nature of relationship; on how relations make us human indeed, most especially when our relating to others is inspired and modeled on our relating to the Other, or rather on His relating to us; and on how materialism, that is, treating everything and everyone as simple matter, relegates us to a subhuman status. How relevant this book is today!


“in every You we address the eternal You.”

“The basic word I-You can be spoken only with one’s whole being… I require a You to become; becoming I, I say You. All actual life is encounter.”

“Freedom and fate embrace each other to form meaning; and given meaning, fate -with its eyes, hitherto severe, suddenly full of light- looks like grace itself.”  p. 102

“Egos appear by setting themselves apart from other egos. Persons appear by entering into relation to other persons.” p. 112

“When a man steps before the Countenance, the world becomes wholly presence to him for the first time in the fullness of the presence, illuminated by eternity, and he can say You in one word to the being of all beings.”

“What is it that is eternal: the primal phenomenon, present in the here and now, of what we call revelation? It is man’s emerging from the moment of the supreme encounter, being no longer the same as he was when entering into it.” p. 157

“The cult gradually becomes a substitute, as the personal prayer is no longer supported but rather pushed aside by communal prayer; and as the essential deed simply does not permit any rules, it is supplanted by devotions that follow rules.” p. 162.