Book Reviews Memory and Identity : Conversations at the Dawn of a Mellenium.
Pope John Paul II
. Rizzoli,1998.
Mark Merlino - Home page

Memory and Identity is a very easy and thoroughly enjoyable read. In this book, the Pope forcefully outlines his views on the themes of evil, freedom, nationalism, contemporary Europe, democracy.

Memory and Identity begins with John Paul II's view on evil, which he explains is overcome by Christ's redemption. In this discussion, he argues that modern evil ideologies have their roots in Enlightenment philosophical thought. Particular emphasis is placed on the fascist and Marxist worldviews. He expresses concern that there may now be a new subtle and hidden ideology of evil intent exploiting human rights against man and the family.

The next few chapters beautifully define freedom and express how the principle of freedom should be applied in practice.

The Pope's then goes on to discuss the themes of nationality, patriotism, and nationalism. In this discussion, he consistently uses Poland and Polish national history to articulate his views. He then touches on topics such as Poland's role in contemporary Europe, and Europe's relationship with the rest of the Catholic world.

The Pope also analyses modern views of democracy and church-state relations. In doing so he praises Enlightenment contributions to contemporary thought, pointing out the Gospel origins of Enlightenment the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity.

The book ends with a transcript of the Pope's discussion on his assassination attempt. Most interesting is the Pope's recollection of his 1983 conversation with Ali Agca, who couldn't understand why the attempt failed.

After reading this book, I felt as if I got to know the man on a personal level, just as if I was having with a conversation with him. A good read.
SEE Book on Publishers Website