Fire in the Dark: Essays on Pascal's Pensees and Provinciales

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Pascal's Pensees afford a deeply penetrating view of the human condition (or predicament) as a prelude to a luminously reasoned defense of the Christian faith. His Provincial Letters are best remembered as a wickedly funny satire of obliging and accommodating Jesuit moral theologians who, guided by policy rather than piety, are willing to put virtue and salvation within the easy reach of all but the diabolical. Both works are landmarks of French prose that have fascinated readers of all sorts from his day to ours.The eight essays in Fire in the Dark , two of which are new and four of which first appeared in French, frame and probe Pascal's underlying contention that the darkling, hidden God of Christian revelation, though Himself a profound mystery, especially in the matter of his justice towards fallen mankind, can nonetheless be used to demystify questions that matter most to us. But can the Supremely Obscure, like a dark lantern that is supremely dark, really illumine our whence, whither, and what now - our nature, destiny and duties? Watchman, what of the night? The answers Pascal offers to Isaiah's query, whether they finally shed light on our world's chiaroscuro or not, can at least claim the authority of coming from out of the dark. Charles Natoli is a member of the Department of Philosophy and Classical Studies at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. He is also the author of Nietzsche and Pascal on Christianity (1985).