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John Comenius: The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (Classics of Western Spirituality Series) [Paperback]

John Comenius , Andrea Sterk , Howard Louthan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Press International,U.S. (Feb 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809137399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809137398
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 730,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When I had reached the age when human reason begins to discern the difference between good and evil, I saw the various estates, classes, callings, occupations, and endeavors in which people engage. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not reason, but faith 23 May 2012
By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This is a great text about the human condition, but the proposed solutions are in no way `human'.

The way of the world
J. Comenius sees in the marketplace of the world that all people wear masks. `In place of Justice, Injustice reigns; your Watchfulness is Suspicion; your Affability is Flattery; your Truth is mere Appearance; your Love is Lust; your Diligence is Slavery; your Piety is Hypocrisy'.
All professions are thoroughly scrutinized. J. Comenius finds only delusion and deception: philosophers `diverting form and substance, until only being remained'; politicians `say one thing and do another'; the ruling class `obtained their seats by bribery, begging, flattery or force. Look at the corruption!'; the clergy indulge `in lechery and wantonness, stuffing their purses, (they are) fathers of revenue'; the Christians `drank and vomited, fought, defrauded and stole.'

Death
`Even standing in the face of Death, all behave as if certain of immortality.' But, Death, drawing arrows, shot young, old, poor, rich, learned and ignorant. `She strangled and suffocated the rich with their chains; she poured poison into the delicacies of the hedonists; she threw down the famous so that their skulls cracked.'

Freedom, Puritanism, communism
For J. Comenius, faith is `complete freedom of the mind' and `freedom is not to be self-willed'. `Faith alone is sufficient for all certainty'.
J. Comenius believes in the theory of the original sin : `the flesh by its natural disinclination toward the good.' He is also heavily influenced by Puritanism in sexual (`that their marriage was not much different from chastity') and social (for the working class, `the less drudgery the more vice and fraud') matters.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking book. 6 Mar 1999
By Boxer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Why should you read a book written in 1623? Because, this book is special. Comenius wrote with an uncanny ability to see life as it really is. In an allagorical genre (as Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress), it is fast moving, interesting and thought-provoking. The author will grab you and bring you along with him as he searches the world for true wisdom and true happiness. This book is simply unforgetable. On par, but of different genre, with Augustine's Confessions.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life in action 28 Jan 2004
By Joseph J. Slevin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Interesting how a man whose life reflected the turmoil of his day. As Solomon said, all is vanity. Comenius writes from many of his own experiences. He saw his family taken away from him, he had to flee numerous times. He basically invented modern education. Here is a book, written so long ago, yet so important for our day.
Do we ever stop to ask why we do what we do and why we choose what we choose? Is there a better choice? Comenius was offered the Presidency of Harvard University in his day. Here is a man who survive, neigh, conquered in his life. You will be glad you read this book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless allegory of life 4 July 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have read and reread this book many times. I even purchased several copies to give to my children and friends. The Labyrinth is a classic of reformation thought. John Comenius (Jan Komensky) was a Czech educator who was forced to flee his homeland during the European religious wars of the 17th century. In this allegory he pictures life very in sharp focus and it is clear from this that man's nature has not changed much over the centuries. This book is as relevant today as it was when it was written. To me, this book is better written than Pilgrims Progress, but it is less known since it has remained hidden to the English reader in the Czech language for so many centuries. This is the best English translation that I've found.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shorter and better than Pilgrim's Progress 28 May 1999
By Robert D. Downing - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book by the Father of Modern Education more than Pilgrim's Progress. I easily identified the many twists and turns that people make before they find spiritual insight. A must read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not reason, but faith 23 May 2012
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a great text about the human condition, but the proposed solutions are in no way `human'.

The way of the world
J. Comenius sees in the marketplace of the world that all people wear masks. `In place of Justice, Injustice reigns; your Watchfulness is Suspicion; your Affability is Flattery; your Truth is mere Appearance; your Love is Lust; your Diligence is Slavery; your Piety is Hypocrisy'.
All professions are thoroughly scrutinized. J. Comenius finds only delusion and deception: philosophers `diverting form and substance, until only being remained'; politicians `say one thing and do another'; the ruling class `obtained their seats by bribery, begging, flattery or force. Look at the corruption!'; the clergy indulge `in lechery and wantonness, stuffing their purses, (they are) fathers of revenue'; the Christians `drank and vomited, fought, defrauded and stole.'

Death
`Even standing in the face of Death, all behave as if certain of immortality.' But, Death, drawing arrows, shot young, old, poor, rich, learned and ignorant. `She strangled and suffocated the rich with their chains; she poured poison into the delicacies of the hedonists; she threw down the famous so that their skulls cracked.'

Freedom, Puritanism, communism
For J. Comenius, faith is `complete freedom of the mind' and `freedom is not to be self-willed'. `Faith alone is sufficient for all certainty'.
J. Comenius believes in the theory of the original sin : `the flesh by its natural disinclination toward the good.' He is also heavily influenced by Puritanism in sexual (`that their marriage was not much different from chastity') and social (for the working class, `the less drudgery the more vice and fraud') matters.
His ideal is pure communism: `among themselves they all treated their possessions just as those sitting at a common table all use the provisions with equal right.'

His solution: escapism
`Whatever the world does, says, threatens, promises, commands, begs, advises, or compels, (the enlightened Christian) does not allow himself to be moved.' `If the powerful of the world wrangle and quarrel over crowns and scepters, which lead to bloodshed and the destruction of countries and lands, the enlightened Christian is not troubled about this. He considers it of little importance who rules the world.'

Fundamental contradiction
But, who made this rotten world? J. Comenius says it himself: `there is only One who is higher than we - the Lord, our Maker.' (!) `I saw that all people, whether good or bad, live and move and have their being only in God and by God, for their every motion and breath proceed from God and his power.' `All things, from the greatest to the smallest, happened only through his will'.(!)

John Comenius wrote a harsh and merciless dissection of the way of the world with images worth a Jheronimus Bosch. He forgets, however, that, according to his vision, this world was made by his own God. Moreover, a totally irrational ostrich behavior is in no way a medicine for the sicknesses of the world. But, J. Comenius is a fatalist, because for him man is infected by the original sin.
Nevertheless, I highly recommend this astonishing text.
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