Book Review: Fill These Hearts
I have read nearly all of Christopher West’s books, and, in my opinion, Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing is his best book to date. In Fill These Hearts, West has done a masterful job in weaving together lessons from classical and contemporary art, literature, music, movies, and the Christian mystical tradition to explain the deep yearnings within our bodies and spirits as revealing the cry of our hearts for God.
West believes that most people view the Christian life as a life of stoic repression and he methodically sets out to demolish the idea that God wants us to block the deepest desires of our hearts. According to West, God does not want us to repress our desires nor does He want us to seek immediate gratification by indulging our desires. Instead, God wants us to sublimate the world’s pleasures and to ready our hearts for the banquet He has prepared for each of us. In Fill These Hearts, West seeks to help us aim our desire according to God’s design and to safely obtain our destiny – eternal bliss and ecstasy in union with God.
The message West conveys is profound and will cause us to reflect deeply, analyzing our own lives and our western culture. Using Scripture, saint quotes, the Catechism, and images from pop culture, West dazzles the reader with his analogies and interpretations, while explaining his concepts in very clear, comprehensible terms. Though his overall message about the Theology of the Body remains basically the same, he writes in an even more timely and powerful way, targeting a wider audience. This book will not only appeal to Christians, but will attract even secularists and atheists.
My favorite part of Fill These Hearts is West’s use of movie scenes to illuminate deep truths about the human heart. Some of the films he uses to highlight these truths include: Toy Story, Shawshank Redemption, Babette’s Feast, Spider Man, and my personal favorite, Les Miserables. Like the movie Les Miserables, this book gives us hope, because it helps us to realize that our hope lies not in this world, but in the next.
In summary, Christopher West’s Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing is a beautifully written book, which explains the truth behind our deepest desires. It helps us understand them and how to deal with them according to God’s design to find our true destiny—the banquet of eternal life. Fill These Hearts has the potential to change hearts as well as minds. I highly recommend it.
~ Copyright Jean M. Heimann March 2013.