Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of the Intellectual Life

A review of Lost in Thought by Zena Hitz

כִּֽי־טוֹבָ֣ה חָ֭כְמָה מִפְּנִינִ֑ים וְכָל־חֲ֝פָצִ֗ים לֹ֣א יִֽשְׁווּ־בָֽהּ׃

“For wisdom is better than rubies;
And all that you may desire cannot compare with her.”
— Proverbs 8:11

I am blessed to be a student of theology and languages. When I’m not studying, I’m often teaching others. I read and collect books like an academic but it would be stretch to identify myself as one. My areas of interest are varied, possibly quite too diverse to be an expert on anything. My research speciality: messy people searching for God.

I enjoy reading literature, philosophy, and theology in multiple languages. However, I am usually doing so between appointments, doctors visits, counseling sessions and meals with people who teach me more about God’s love. Unless it is finally time for uninterrupted reading (between 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.), I am usually reading on the run.

Thank heavens I do not have to publish scholarly articles in order to achieve tenure or to simply keep my job. If I do read them it is because they interest me. I read them because they can help me better understand or communicate something of interest to me.

Princeton University Press, 2020

In her book, Lost in Thought, Zena Hitz eloquently makes a case for learning for pleasure, learning for its own sake. She notes that learning can cultivate the inner life and aid us in our search for human flourishing. The intellectual life can also lead us to God who is truth and true beauty.

Throughout the book she interacts with philosophers, novelists and two of my heroes for the integration of their faith and Christian service: St. Augustine and Dorothy Day.

Hitz’s book is one of the best I have read so far this year. I recommend it both to my friends of faith as well as to those who profess to have no faith at all. It is a stimulating read that requires long pauses and thoughtful contemplation.

In this same vein, I would recommend the following two books:

How Christian Faith Can Sustain the Life of the Mind by Richard T. Hughes

Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind by Mark A. Noll

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