Friday, 27 January 2006

Essential spiritual and devotional writings for theologians

Here’s our next “essential list,” kindly created by Kim Fabricius. Kim says:

The title of this post is invidious if it suggests that theology and spirituality are two separate disciplines. For theology is spirituality in articulate expression, while spirituality is theology on its knees—and, of course, on its feet too! When theology is “thin,” it is often because it is not steeped in prayer; and when spirituality is “lite,” it is usually because it is theologically vacuous. Nevertheless, as anthologies attest, you will know what I mean by the designation “spiritual and devotional writings.”

This has been a particularly tough list of twenty to compile—the Christian tradition is so blessedly rich. I have gone for a historical and geographical spread, and I have also tried to include writers from a range of confessions, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox.

Furthermore, in this list more than in the other lists I have done for Ben, I have to admit to ignorance about some obvious primary sources. Lest I seem a fraud, I have been rigorous in excluding any material I don’t know at first hand.... But lest I protest too much, let me post and be damned!

1. Augustine (354-439): Confessions
2. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): On Loving God
3. Meister Eckhart (c.1260-1327): The Book of Divine Consolation
4. Julian of Norwich (1342-c.1416): Revelations of Divine Love
5. Thomas à Kempis (c.1380-1471): The Imitation of Christ
6. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556): Spiritual Exercises
7. John of the Cross (1542-91): The Ascent of Mount Carmel
8. Frances de Sales ((1567-1622): Introduction to the Devout Life
9. George Herbert (1593-1633): The Temple
10. Jeremy Taylor (1613-67): Rules and Exercises for Holy Living and Dying
11. Blaise Pascal (1623-62): Pensées
12. John Bunyan (1628-88): Pilgrim’s Progress
13. John Wesley (1703-91): Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists
14. Nicodemus the Hagiorite (1748-1809), compiler: the Philokalia
15. Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55): Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing
16. Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-88): Love Alone: The Way of Revelation
17. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45): Letters and Papers from Prison
18. Simone Weil (1909-43): Waiting on God
19. Thomas Merton (1911-68): Seeds of Contemplation
20. Martin Luther King (1929-68): Strength to Love

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