When I first received On Pascal by Douglas Groothuis in the mail I was slightly disappointed. The list price was $15.95 and the Amazon price was the same. I was not diligent enough to scroll down and see the book was 104 pages. $15.95 for 104 pages, with the main content being 95 pages, seemed kind of pricey to me. But the subject of the book is Pascal, so I would have probably purchased it anyway. I'm glad I did.
Last night I read On Pascal. This little book packs a lot of punch. For an introduction to Pascal it is quite impressive. Somehow Groothuis manages, in 95 pages, to provide a biography and overview of Pascal's perspectives. Although it is a short work, it is very thorough. I had moments when I was reading and I would wonder if he was going to cover something, and he did. Groothuis offers enough nuggets from the Pensees to give insight into this great thinker and inspire the Pascal newbie to read the scientist/theologian's works.
Groothuis does not presume knowledge of scientific or theological terms and backgrounds from the reader. He manages to clarify things in short parenthetical statements. He also explains some items using modern examples. The pithiness of the explanations was impressive.
I love Pascal, and I get kind of warm and fuzzy just thinking about him. I even named my cat Pascal. (My cat is female, so her name is actually Sophia Pascal. She goes by Pascal.) I am not the highly emotive type; Mr. Spock is my favorite "Star Trek" character. Pascal is someone I truly consider a friend. When I read his writings the connection is almost unexplainable. It is like talking to a friend. That being said, I found moments reading this book where I got kind of misty. I could imagine what Pascal was doing. This amazing mind had such passion.
I get quite sad when I think about Pascal dying before he finished his work. It would have been great to have the completed project. I also wonder if it would have taken the mystery and some of the fun out of reading him. I cannot wait to meet him some day. Well, I can wait, but you know what I mean.
On a minor note, I was personally pleased that Groothuis used the A. J. Krailsheimer edition of the Pensees.
If you are interested in an introduction to Pascal, I'd highly recommend this work along with a couple of others: Making Sense of It All by Thomas V. Morris and Christianity for Modern Pagans by Peter Kreeft. And of course, you need your own copy of the Pensees.