In his remarks upon being named Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams spoke of the Christian creed and Christian vision (that) have in them a life and a richness that can embrace and transfigure all the complexities of human life. Confidence in that creed, he said, saves us from being led by fashion.
In his remarks upon being named Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams spoke of "the Christian creed and Christian vision (that) have in them a life and a richness that can embrace and transfigure all the complexities of human life." Confidence in that creed, he said, "saves us from being led by fashion."
Lost Icons: Reflections on Cultural Bereavement explores Williams' concern that fashion dictates how we understand and respond to the world around us, rather than long-accepted behavioral and relational norms, or icons. Whereas fashion comes and goes, cultural icons arise from generations of conversation, and "represent some of the basic constraints on what human beings can reasonably do and say together if they are going to remain within a recognizably human conversation."
Specifically Williams explores images of childhood, our awkwardness at speaking about community, our unwillingness to think seriously about remorse, and our devastating lack of vocabulary for the growth and nurture of the self through time. "All have in common the presupposition that we cannot choose just any course of action in respect of our human and non-human environment," he writes, "and still expect to 'make sense.'"
In Lost Icons, he explores how cultural norms have been discarded and how society will suffer without a sense of "soul."
"Those who are already familiar with the writings of Rowan Williams will know of his gift of taking the ordinary stuff of human experience and opening it up to show how it can carry us into the mystery of God incarnate. They will not be surprised to discover that in his new book he once again enlightens us." -The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
"How rare it is to find someone who, simultaneously, is thoughtfully and constructively involved both with the main teachings of Christian theology and also with contemporary culture, politics, education, and spirituality. This is a rich book..." -David F. Ford, Theology Today
"Rowan Williams is one of the deepest and most insightful theologians today. Here he reflects on crucial notions - childhood, charity, remorse, soul - that we depend upon but have allowed to atrophy." -L. Gregory Jones, Dean and Professor of Theology, Duke Divinity School.
Rowan Williams will be the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury.
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If there is any particular merit to the arguments about a lost (or missing) sense of self and of collective purpose in the culture, they could find no better spokesperson than Rowan Williams. Archbishop Williams s enlargements on themes of childhood and choice, charity, remorse, and the loss of soul are brilliantly articulated and show more than passing familiarity with cultural, political, literary (including fantasy), and philosophical trends, as well as being awake to the tradition that questions the world s easy complicity with these losses. The book s chief merit, however, lies in the excavation of the self that is lost or missing. Sewanee Theological Review Mentioned by Susan Dowell in Church Time, 2008. "If there is any particular merit to the arguments about a lost (or missing) sense of self and of collective purpose in the culture, they could find no better spokesperson than Rowan Williams. Archbishop Williams's enlargements on themes of childhood and choice, charity, remorse, and the loss of soul are brilliantly articulated and show a more than passing familiarity with cultural, political, literary (including fantasy), and philosophical trends, as well as being awake to the tradition that questions the world's easy complicity with these losses. The book's chief merit, however, lies in the excavation of the self that is lost or missing." "This is a gem of a book but by no means an easy read." "But these essays are the musings of a mind that is none of the most theologically erudite occupants of the throne of Canterbury since Anselm. Their reward lies not just in stretching the intellect but also in their invitation to enlargement of soul, recognizing that which, as Williams says in another context, 'is given to us to become givers'." James Goodmann for Sewanee Theological Review, Christmas 2004 "A remarkable addition to his very diverse writings." Fergus Kerr, The Tablet--Sanford Lakoff "The American Spectator " "This gifted master of contemporary Christian thought has succeeded in drawing his wide audience into a deeper understanding of the society in which it lives." Linsi Simmons, Bible Society, Transmission--Sanford Lakoff "How rare it is to find someone who, simultaneously, is thoughtfully and constructively involved both with the main teachings of Christian theology and also with contemporary culture, politics, education, and spirituality. This is a rich book, densely woven around themes that constantly provoke questioning of oneself and one s culture. By the end one has been led through a series of profound engagements that shed light on fundamental aspects of oneself and one s culture." David F.--Sanford Lakoff "Theology Today " "The latest installment from perhaps the greatest living Christian theologian; everything he has written is worth reading, twice." David S. Cunningham, Professor of Theology and Ethics, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary--Sanford Lakoff "Rowan Williams has written a fascinating book, one that itself shows 'iconic' qualities in helping us to see the enterprise culture of our times and the attitudes it stimulates in a new light." Bishop Paul Richardson, The Church of England Newspaper--Sanford Lakoff "Church Of England Newspaper " "It is an important book, full of insights, by a shrewd and independent thinker, making contact with the thinking of our secular culture which is criticized in devastating fashion." Rt. Revd.--Sanford Lakoff "Church Times " "This remarkable book is a sustained meditation on the confusions and alienations of modern selfhood, the subject of free choice, whose autonomy we most want to protect, and whose control by others we most want to unmask. With deft insight and economy of expression, Williams makes us aware of what it means to be a bodily creature, whose identity is remade in time, and is essentially interwoven with those of others. The self is a perpetual question, whose answer cannot lie simply within; to lose sight of this is to lose touch with the essential anchor points of the human condition, the grounds of spontaneous sociality, the possibility of remorse. The philosophy of the subject, political theory, and the understanding of our secular age, are all subtly shifted onto a new axis by this penetrating and original essay." Professor Charles Taylor, McGill University--Sanford Lakoff "There is nothing remotely sentimental in these clear-sighted, closely argued pages, in which Archbishop Williams pleads, with wisdom, compassion and cool articulate anger, for the recovery of habits of self-understanding in grave danger of becoming unavailable: for childhood, friendship and remorse, as aspects of identity fashioned and discovered over time" Professor Nicholas Lash, University of Cambridge--Sanford Lakoff "Those who are already familiar with the writings of Rowan Williams will know of his gift of taking the ordinary stuff of human experience and opening it up to show how it can carry us into the mystery of God incarnate. They will not be surprised to discover that in this new book he once again enlightens us." The Most Revd. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, USA--Sanford Lakoff "Lost Icons is a reading of our culture which will help us to negotiate a way forward that is more deeply appreciative of those iconic resources which are intrinsic to human welfare and sense. It is especially thought provoking for those who are aware that the vicissitudes of culture are related to and must be understood in terms of presuppositions, beliefs, and losses of belief which lie, often unrecognized, deep below the surface." Murray Rae, author of The Gospel and Our Culture--Sanford Lakoff "In this profound book, Rowan Williams offers one of the finest and most penetrating critiques of contemporary culture I have read. Doing justice to a work of this magnitude is impossible- it is a book that needs to be digested at length." Mark D. Chapman, author of Modern Believing--Sanford Lakoff "It is impossible to do justice to the complexity and richness of this discussion within the limited space available here...Williams discussion of the ramifications of all this, including his perceptive comments on the modern concept of choice in education, strikes me as extraordinarily important and should be read by Christian teachers and educationalists- not to mention parents. Subsequent explorations of the loss of sense of charity, of the difficulties of expressing remorse and finally of what theology intends by talking of the human soul are stimulating and filled with fresh and thought-provoking insights." David Smith, Themilios 26.2 (Spring 2001)--Sanford Lakoff "Themelios " "Lost Icons is a sobering inquiry into the structures that support (or fail to support) the development of authentic selfhood and the mainenance of a just society..Lost Icons is a probing cultural analysis, with hints that one of the deep impulses of the essay is to fundamental theology, drawing as it does upon the methods and resources of sociology, antroplogy, history, media studies, psychology, political science, philosophy, literary theory, and theology. This book ought to be read by anyone interested in the breadth and depth of the intellectual life of the Archbishop of Canterbury; it deserves the srious attention of anyone who thinks critically about the construction of (post) modern selfhood; and it holds intriguing possibilities for those who study the church's mission in contemporary North Atlantic societies, since Williams contends that the church's tradition contains resources capable of addressing many of the problems he identifies in these societies." Derek N. Anderson, Loyola University Chicago, Illinois, for Anglican Theological Review--Sanford Lakoff
The Rt. Hon. and Most Reverend Rowan Williams is Archbishop of Canterbury. He was formerly Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford and Archbishop of Wales.
Lost Icons by Williams
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