Monday 5 December 2011

New Rowan Williams book: coming soon

One of my favourite songs is about going to California – and that's what my family and I will be doing in the morning. I'm on sabbatical, so for the next few months I'll be a Visiting Scholar at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena.

My new book on Rowan Williams should be out pretty soon too. There's an edited extract at the ABC site, from the chapter on politics: Politics of the Empty Church: Why Rowan Williams Defended Sharia Law.

And here's a blurb from Lewis Ayres:

Myers’ book exhibits many of the traits he describes in the theology of Rowan Williams: an attentiveness and care that makes the familiar strange, a sparse but rich prose that bears re-reading, a seeking always for historical foundations and resources. In fact, this elegant book is a complex intellectual biography that convincingly roots its hero in a series of engagements – the centrality of MacKinnon, Wittgenstein and Hegel in Williams’ thought is revealed – which are then shown to occur within an on-going reflection on the life of prayer. Throughout, the complex paths of Williams’ theology are introduced with clarity and verve. —Lewis Ayres, Durham University
It's a small book, short and snappy, with 14 chapters. Here's the table of contents:

1. Sociality
2. Tragedy
3. Language
4. Boundaries
5. Tradition
6. Growth
7. Mission
8. Saints
9. Desire
10. Hope
11. Prayer
12. Fantasy
13. Renunciation
14. Writing


Patrik said...

I find reading Williams frustrating - I happened to write about it a second ago - what are the "essential" texts one should read?

Mark Medley said...

Ben--Congratulations on the new book! I am looking forward it. I continue to find Wiliams fascinating and illuminating. With frequency I often select a short passage of Williams (drawn from a wide range of his writings) for silent reflection as part of prayers with my seminary classes.

Patrik--"On Christian Theology," a collection of essays, offers an overview of sorts of Wililams' theology. Personally, I would begin with Williams' two books on praying with icons--"Ponder These Things" and "The Dwelling of the Light." In both small books the reader encounters the rich perichoretic character of theology and spirituality in Williams' thought; plus, you are "introduced" to the influence of Orthodox thought on Williams' thought.

Anthony Baker said...

Congratulations, Ben. I saw the book on the table at the AAR---really looking forward to reading it.

Joel Daniels said...

I agree with Lewis Ayres - "the complex paths of Williams’ theology are introduced with clarity and verve." Scholars in general, and readers of F&T in particular, are going to love this book. Congratulations on a project well done.

Patrik said...

I have read "On Christian Theology" - it was a while ago, but I think my frustration started right there. I remember liking some essays, but finding it hard to get a sense of the shape of the whole thing.

Plessey Mathews said...

Any one who read the book on Rowan Williams, "Difficult Gospel" by Mike Higton can point out what the differences are between the books?

Brett said...

Patrik, your experience of the frustration of 'finding it hard to get a sense of the shape of the whole thing' might not be accidental. Williams eschews systematic closure, and there is a deliberate polyphony to his theologising. You might have noticed that occasional essays are his favoured mode of writing (a habit perhaps picked up from MacKinnon). You might also have noticed that even the same terms can be employed in divergent ways in different essays. This, in its own way, is something of a theological move - a form of hesitation appropriate to the subject of theology.

However, if you stick with him, you will find what I think is a coherent vision... You will find emerging themes and recurring patterns, forms and motifs. But you will find that vision expressed in different theological 'voices' and cadences depending on the occasion.

For my own opinion on where to start - if you've read On Christian Theology and found it frustrating, you might want to try Tokens of Trust for a more 'popular' explication of Williams' theology. I also think his book on Dostoevsky is theological masterpiece disguised as a book about literature.

Patrik said...

Thanks for the pointers - now I remember my experience reading On Christian Theology better. What frustrated me was that I did not find the stuff that attracted me in other short/popular texts and other people's engagement with him.

Bobby Grow said...

Look forward to reading this, Ben!

Terry said...

Thomas Aquinas the Trinity? I know people hold Thomas in high regard, but this seems to be elevating him above his station...

Seriously, congrats on the book, and have a great time in the US. But you know, the UK could do with a Myerslian visit.

Blugioyo said...

Ben, Will you be giving any lectures at Fuller?

daniel said...

Do you have any engagements in the Great Northwest? Seattle, Portland, or Vancouver? Lord knows we need some Gospel up here! obliged.

David Driedger said...

Congrats Ben. Williams was certainly pivotal in my own theological formation.

Ben Myers said...

Nope, no lectures — I'll just be quietly reading and writing.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Plessey. Mike Higton's book is excellent: I highly recommend it. One difference is that he provides a thematic study of Williams' thought, while I try to give a chronological account of the way Wms' work has developed since the 60s, as well as exploring some of his main sources and influences.

Ben Myers said...

Even worse: if Aquinas is the Trinity, then there's no vocabulary left for describing Augustine!

Andreas said...

Ben, I am going to write my master thesis in theology next fall, and I am thinking about studying Rowan Williams and his view on spirituality. Do you have any advice concerning particular areas within this major subject?

Ben Myers said...

Hi Andreas — sounds like a good topic. I don't have any specific advice, though you might consider focusing on one particular influence on Wms' theology of spirituality — e.g. Augustine, the ascetic tradition, Russian Orthodoxy, Thomas Merton...

Brian Lugioyo said...

Depending on how long you are in town and if you are looking for conversation. It would be a pleasure to take you to lunch sometime. I teach Theology and Ethics at Azusa Pacific University (20 minutes away from Fuller) and studied at Fuller and the University of Aberdeen. My e-mail is

Brian Lugioyo

Tony Hunt said...

Congratulations, Ben! I can't wait to read it. As a still total noob in theology, Williams stands as a sentinel at the gate to my mind. Anything that can help situate his work historically for me is very much appreciated. I must say, though, that 'On Christian Theology' was one of the first books of his I read and I found it very enjoyable. That said, I agree that the icon books and Tokens of Trust are much better first reads.

Phritz898 said...

stonehenge, lad!

aye the Augustinian-Hegelian Tory-Druid Khrust

Chris Donato said...

No doubt the book will far exceed its cover! Could the good folks at T&T not afford an illustrator?!

Looking forward to this read.

Andreasdovik said...

Ben, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I'm about to write a master thesis on Rowan Williams and spirituality from August on. As a preparation for the project, I'm currently reading about the Anglican Church, both historically and theologically. But these books aren't about Williams. What kind of literature would you recommend as reading material in my project besides Williams' own books? I guess I'm asking for literature which has been formative for Williams' own theology/spirituality. Best regards, Andreas

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