If You Could See What I Hear Essay - Critical Essays

Derek L. T. Gill, Tom Sullivan


Sullivan has deftly used his major in psychology to examine a number of concerns that are common among young adults in any generation. By example, he has illustrated the rewards for pursuing goals until they are reached. His tenacity in spite of heartbreak and deep despair proves that a person with handicaps does not have to stand aside. His élan and gift for storytelling eliminate pedagogy, and readers readily identify with his circumstances. Sullivan discusses religion, relationships, sports, career choices, music, and love, all in an unabashed manner. The dysfunctional family syndrome that pervades much of the book evokes sadness.

With Bill Burns, a priest, Sullivan went full circle from “seeing God as a crutch for weaklings” to realizing “an innate desire in every human being to find a higher cause than the daily rat race for profit, fame, and pleasure.” The fourth century Confessiones of Saint Augustine paralleled Sullivan’s pursuits, and readings on the life of Saint Francis of Assisi and his accompanying prayer brought a sense of joy and freedom from the bitterness that he had experienced at Perkins. Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa theologiae (12661273), on the essence of love, Sullivan found to be very thought-provoking. He concluded that how a person lives, not simply what a person says, is what matters. Sullivan’s conversations with Patty, contrasting his own vacillating faith with her unwavering piety, are fascinating.

Sullivan’s reflections on his intimate relationships are...

(The entire section is 630 words.)