Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Books and Essays I Can't Put Down

In no particular order.  Not all of them are about theology but most are.

Graham Ward, Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice (CUP).

I prefer Ward's manifesto on practice in theology to the alternatives because he is sufficiently critical of Pierre Bourdieu's habitus and that Ward draws upon the best the hermeneutical tradition and critical social theory has to offer theology.  I am not so sure of the first chapter on Barth though I do think that the social portrait of the theologian is useful.  What made Barth Barth is Ward's question.  Not so much his intellectual formation but instead the resources and institutions that enabled Barth to do what he did rather than spend all his time doing other things.

Robert W. Bertram, "When is God Triune?"  dialog 28 (1989):133.

Several powerful theses that deserve a wider audience and a more full articulation.  Bertram is respectful of the post-Schleiermacherian insistence that "the economic and theological (immanent) trinity are one" but puts forward questions that suggest that the reliance on the immanent Trinity short-circuits the truth and nature of the resurrection of the Crucified One.

Ralf Stolina,  »Ökonomische« und »immanente« Trinität? Zur Problematik einer trinitätstheologischen Denkfigur.  Zeitschrift fur Theologie und Kirche 105(2):170-216

Stolina, a theologian to follow for his work on Pryzwara, mystery, and Trinity, has written the authoritative history of the modern distinction between economic and immanent Trinity.  There are many important statements of this distinction from the crucial essays by Eberhard Jungel or Joseph Bracken.  But Stolina does the historical-theological work to open up the questions afresh.  I wanted to go this direction after publishing my work on Schleiermacher's trinity treatise ("Trinity as Circumscription of Divine Love according to Schleiermacher" NZSyThRph 50:62-74) but I'm glad that Stolina did instead. 

Phillip Pullman, "The Republic of Heaven" The Horn Book (Jan/Feb 2001)

After completing His Dark Materials, Pullmann wrote this manifesto on the role of fantasy literature after the death of God.  This is nearly a point-by-point refutation of Lewis and Tolkien if not the whole Macdonald-faerie tradition.  It drove one of my students to create a poster mocking Pullman's derision of Susan's fate in the Narnia books.

J. R. R. Tolkien, "On Fairy Stories"  (variously found in The Tolkien Reader, Tree and Leaf [best], Adventures in the Perilous Realm, and The Monster and the Critics)

I cannot describe how valuable this essay is to me.  It's all here.  Mostly.  Shock.  Modernism.  Creation.  Imagination.  The event of surprise.  Eucatastrophe.

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