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20 Thoughts from Thomas Aquinas to Ponder During Our 2020 Pandemic

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) May 17, 2020: Dover Publications has reissued the Reverend Dr. Matthew Fox's 1992 550-page book Sheer Joy: [Four] Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

During my undergraduate years (1962-1966) in Jesuit educational institutions, I was captivated with the thought of the medieval Italian Dominican philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274), as expressed in his uncompleted Summa theologiae. I was most notably captivated with his discussion of Aristotle's perceptive account of act and potency, which subsequently informed and animated my work as an educator and my professional publications dedicated to helping people actualize their human potential.

However, during our 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, I have been rereading Matthew Fox's 550-page book Sheer Joy: [Four] Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, in which Fox translates passages from 52 works by Aquinas in Latin.

In a spirit of considerateness for non-Christian theists, I will highlight here the following twenty key relatively non-christocentric passages from St. Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274) that Matthew Fox translates in Sheer Joy, and I will provide relevant related reading for each passage.

(1) Quoted on page 62 (but also see pages 63-65): "'There is manifested a kind of circle in existing things, for they have the same beginning [i.e., God] and the same end [i.e., God],'" Fox's Source: Aquinas' Commentary on Dionysius' De divinis nominibus (1261?).

For related reading, see the 1987 book Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works, translated by Colm Luibheid; foreword, notes, and translation collaboration by Paul Rorem; preface by Rene Roques; introductions by Jaroslav Pelikan, Jean Leclerq, and Karlfried Froehlich. But for a surprising related reading, also see Donald L. Fixico's 2003 book The American Indian Mind in a Linear World: American Indian Studies and Traditional Knowledge.

(2) Quoted on page 100: "'Sheer Joy is God's, and this demands companionship.'" Fox's Source: Aquinas' Commentary on Peter Lombard's Book of Sentences (1252-1256).

For an accessible introduction to Peter Lombard, see Philipp W. Roseman's 2004 book Peter Lombard.

(3) Quoted on pages 106 and 105, respectively: "'God is a fountain of total beauty, the most beautiful and the super-beautiful.'" Fox's Source: Aquinas' Commentary on Dionysius's De Causis (1261?).

For a surprising related reading, see Carl Safina's 2020 book Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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