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3. Pensées by Pascal

Follow this link to Librivox recording:
translated by W. F. Trotter

This is one of 14 books I have left on my Invitation to the Classics Book List, and I started it wondering what I had gotten myself into! It seemed too difficult to understand, but once I got into the rhythm of Pascal's numbered thoughts and reflections, I was hooked. He was a very Godly man who had some things to say about the condition of man and God's remedy for it!  He reacts to Montaigne and Descartes and quotes Augustine. These are all writers I have read. So that was fun to read Pascal's reaction to their writings. 

I listened to the LibriVox recording of this book and followed along with my free Kindle edition. There are many advantages to listening to this rendition of the book. 

  1. The narrator is excellent (Shout out to Dexter from Canada).
  2. The Latin is read by Leni in Rio de Janeiro and translated into English by Dexter. You would lose quite a bit not knowing what the Latin meant.
  3. Dexter reads all the footnotes which aren't hyperlinked on the Kindle edition (because it was free :)). He reads the Scripture in the footnotes too.
I walked along and listened to this book and felt it was part of my time with God! Pascal went through the whole Bible. I loved having the narrator read Scripture after Scripture that points to Christ!  Awesome and intelligent devotional book.

Here is a summary of what the Pensées are all about:

Pascal’s Pensées is widely considered to be a masterpiece, and a landmark in French prose. When commenting on one particular section (Thought #72), Sainte-Beuve praised it as the finest pages in the French language. Will Durant, in his 11-volume, comprehensive The Story of Civilization series, hailed it as “the most eloquent book in French prose.” In Pensées, Pascal surveys several philosophical paradoxes: infinity and nothing, faith and reason, soul and matter, death and life, meaning and vanity—seemingly arriving at no definitive conclusions besides humility, ignorance, and grace. Rolling these into one he develops Pascal’s Wager. (Summary from Wikipedia)

It really is a masterpiece, and if you read nothing else, read the "Pascal's Wager" portion. It is brilliant.  In 2008, I talked about the "wager" portion as I sat with my college friend, Bruce, who was waiting to be admitted to the hospital. How poignant to discuss Pensées with a dying man. That was his last admission to the hospital. Bruce wagered on the "God is" side of the coin, and I am sure he is in heaven with the angels as I type this. 

My husband is a mathematician, and I was just extolling to him the virtues of reading Pensées, and he said, "Oh, I read it during one of my days of prayer last year."  

Did I marry the right man or what? 

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