The January 26th issue of National Review has a short review, written by Michael Potemra, of Peter Seewald's Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait, published recently by Ignatius Press. Potemra writes that the book "lives up to its title: It offers an idiosyncratic and genuinely insightful view of one of the world’s great spiritual leaders." As to the question, "Why is the current pope so doggedly countercultural?", it is because, Seewald notes, Benedict's father was so passionately and courageously opposed to Naziism. Seewald quotes Cardinal Ratzinger as saying, "In the faith of my parents ... I found confirmation for Catholicism as a bulwark of truth and righteousness against that kingdom of atheism and lies represented by National Socialism" (p. 138).
This echoes what Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D., author of Pope Benedict XVI: The Conscience of Our Age (A Theological Portrait), has said about his former professor (in this Ignatius Insight interview):
Using the best findings of academic theology, Ratzinger goes beyond them to create something new and original. He is more than an academic. He is an original thinker, whose scattered writings on a host of subjects are "seminal", awaiting development by others. Finally, unlike either Küng or (especially) Rahner, Ratzinger writes with a clarity and, at times, literary beauty, that never fails to impress.
Related Ignatius Insight excerpts and articles:
• "A Revolutionary of the Christian Type" | Peter Seewald | The Preface to Benedict XVI: An Intimate
• Benedict XVI's Theological Vision: An Introduction | Monsignor Joseph Murphy | From the introduction to Christ Our Joy: The Theological Vision of Pope Benedict XVI
• The Theological Genius of Joseph Ratzinger | An Interview with Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D.
• The Courage To Be Imperfect | The Introduction to Pope Benedict XVI: The Conscience of Our Age (A Theological Portrait) | D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D.
• Ratzinger on the Modern Mind | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
• On Reading the Pope | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
• Ratzinger's Faith and Reason | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.