Friday 27 May 2011

Michael Ramsey Prize winner: David Bentley Hart

This year the prestigious Michael Ramsey Prize for theological writing has gone to David Bentley Hart for his book Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Yale University Press). The £10,000 prize was awarded today by Rowan Williams.

Williams described David Bentley Hart not only as "a theologian of exceptional quality" but also "a brilliant stylist":
This book takes no prisoners in its response to fashionable criticisms of Christianity. But what makes it more than just another contribution to controversy is the way he shows how the most treasured principles and values of compassionate humanism are rooted in the detail of Christian doctrine. I am pleased that we have identified a prize winning book that is so distinctive in its voice. It is never bland. It will irritate some, but it will also challenge and inspire readers inside and outside the church. No one could pretend after reading this that Christian theology was lacking in intellectual and imaginative force or in relevance to the contemporary world.
It's true: Hart is an extraordinary prose stylist and a brilliant controversialist. He's a unique voice in contemporary theology. Grumpy, elegant, outrageous, and delightful – often all at the same time. Though this isn't my favourite of his books – I don't think it's as good as The Doors of the Sea, for example – it's great to see his writing recognised in this way.

The other shortlisted books were:
Has anyone read that last one by Robert Hughes? It sounds really impressive, but I haven't got a copy yet. If anyone has read it, I'd love to know what you thought of it.


in said...

Amen Ben,
The Doors of the Sea bursts with integrity.

The Ironic Catholic said...

No, but the book by Tom Reynolds is fantastic.

chelle said...

I have a copy of Beloved Dust that I started to dip into. My immediate response was, 'this is a book that is going to change my life, I need to give it some time.'
My spiritual director has already read it and he said, 'you can tell it's a formative work because he keeps saying, "this thing needs further investigation"'. he loved it.
Am hoping to get together a discussion group on it later in the year. Melbourne area.

Thomas said...

Congrats to David B....! Well deserved, overall. On a further note, I'm sure his grump was a bit lessened on receiving this prize...

Unknown said...

Definitely not his best book, but there are some great zingers in it.

Anonymous said...

Where's a grumpy theologian when we need one? A feisty, theologian with Geist and attitude? We've got one already, and he's David Bentley Hart! Hat's off to D.B. Hart!. Well deserved, and, "Fair Seas and Prosperous Voyage" too,

M Tapie said...

Just a note for any fans of Hart's work in California--Hart will be participating in two sessions at the Christian Scholars' Conference, Pepperdine University, in Malibu, CA, on June 17-18th, 2011. In one session, Hart will deliver an address entitled "The Second Naivete: Allegorical and Critical Readings of Scripture." In a second session, Hart will engage John Polkinghorne in a dialogue on natural theology and the new atheism.

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