John S. Dunne is the John O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and the author of 20 books including Deep Rhythm and the Riddle of Eternal Life. He is one of the Living Spiritual Teachers profiled on this website. In this theological work, he continues to explore the vast mysteries of the Christian faith with quotations, teaching stories, and illustrations from a wide variety of wisdom traditions. Dunne uses his spiritually literate style to draw in illustrative material from resources past and present. His goal is to explore eternal consciousness on earth and in heaven.
Here is just a short list of some of the literary, spiritual, and philosophical luminaries who appear in this book in order to shed light on the human journey and God's presence with us: writer Isak Dinesen on silence, E. M. Forster on the spiritual practice of connection, Martin Buber on the importance of the I and Thou relationship, novelist George Eliot on having "keen vision and feeling," and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein on how eternal life belongs to those who "live in the present."
Dunne talks briefly two of his own challenges: aging and loneliness. His answers to Kant's pivotal questions (What can I know? What should I do? and What may I hope?) will be familiar to his loyal readers who enjoy crossing over from one spiritual teacher or story to another. Same goes for his paeans of praise for music and songs. They all share ties with the human faculty which George Bernard Shaw saw as significant:
"Imagination is the beginning of creation: you imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and finally you create what you will."
Dunne believes in "the great circle of life and light and love" which animates our journey through darkness, loneliness, aging, and death. In regard to eternal consciousness there is knowing and not knowing. In "An Inner Landscape," one of his songs at the end of the book, Dunne heralds God's presence all around as "a changing image of eternity." So be it.