“Patience with God” by Tomáš Halík hits the bookshelves worldwide

“Patience with God”, a new book by Tomáš Halík, a Catholic priest and a renowned Czech theologian, has been put out by the US publisher Doubleday and hit the bookshelves in English-speaking countries around the world. A reflection on faith and atheism, “Patience with God” will be officially launched at the seat of the UN in New York on Tuesday. Radio Prague spoke to Mr Halík about some of the issues he deals with in his latest work.

Tomáš Halík
“The book begins with my experience when I was asked by the Czech Parliament in the mid 1990s to present a meditation on a Biblical theme – it was just before Christmas. And I told them the story of Zaccheus – of the man who was observing Jesus from a distance, and Jesus called him by his name. For me, this is a symbol of the people who are interested in religious and spiritual values but are distant from organized religion. I think it’s very important to lead a dialogue with such people; to call them by their names. This is the message of my book: how to find a way between two dangerous temptations of our world: religious fundamentalism on one side, and militant secularism on the other.”

Your book will be officially launched on Tuesday at the seat of the United Nations in New York. Why do you think people not just in the United States but globally are so interested in these issues?

“Perhaps because there are these two threats: religious fundamentalism and fanaticism – religions are misused by politicians and extremist groups – and on the other hand, the threat of liberal relativism and militant secularism which appeared in the West. My view is that faith and doubt are like sisters – they need each other and correct each other because faith without critical thinking and without doubt leads to fanaticism. But rationalism without basic trust and spiritual dimensions leads to cynicism and despair.”

Czechs are considered one of the world’s most atheist nations. Do you think that this “Czech experience” is valuable for readers overseas?

“I think that the Czech experience could be interesting. The harsh persecution of the Church in the 1950s was also an opportunity for believers to reflect on their faith. I think that sometimes the Church on the cross, the Church under pressure could be spiritually very fruitful. And I think that such historical experiences need to be reflected philosophically and theologically. In my books, I try to express this experience in the context of contemporary philosophical and theological thinking.”