Though he responds to those skeptical of Christian faith, Hart is at his most perceptive and provocative as he examines Christian attempts to rationalize the tsunami disaster. Many people want a divine plan that will make sense of evil. Hart contends, however, that the history of suffering and death is not willed by God. Rather than appealing to a divine calculus that can account for every instance of suffering, Christians must recognize the ongoing struggle between the rebellious powers that enslave the world and the God who loves it.
This meditation by a brilliant young theologian will deeply challenge serious readers grappling with God s ways in a suffering world.
The book begins by tracing the shifting use and nature of metaphysics in the thought of Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Lyotard, Derrida, Deleuze, Nancy, Levinas, and others. Hart pays special attention to Nietzsche's famous narrative of the "will to power" -- a narrative largely adopted by the world today -- and he offers an engaging revision (though not rejection) of the genealogy of nihilism, thereby highlighting the significant "interruption" that Christian thought introduced into the history of metaphysics.
This discussion sets the stage for a retrieval of the classic Christian account of beauty and sublimity, and of the relation of both to the question of being. Written in the form of a dogmatica minora, this main section of the book offers a pointed reading of the Christian story in four moments, or parts: Trinity, creation, salvation, and eschaton. Through a combination of narrative and argument throughout, Hart ends up demonstrating the power of Christian metaphysics not only to withstand the critiques of modern and postmodern thought but also to move well beyond them.
Strikingly original and deeply rewarding, The Beauty of the Infinite is both a constructively critical account of the history of metaphysics and a compelling contribution to it.
In an engaging combination of dialogues, reflections, conversations, history, and travel information, Kyriacos C. Markides continues the exploration of a spiritual tradition and practice he began in Riding with the Lion. His earlier book took readers to the isolated peninsula of Mount Athos in northern Greece and into a group of ancient monasteries. There, in what might be called a “Christian Tibet,” two thousand monks and hermits practice the spiritual arts to attain oneness with God. In his new book, Markides follows Father Maximos, one of Mount Athos’s monks, to the troubled island of Cyprus. As Father Maximos establishes churches, convents, and monasteries in this deeply divided land, Markides is awakened anew to the magnificent spirituality of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Images of the land and the people of Cyprus and details of its tragic history enrich The Mountain of Silence. Like the writings of the great mystics, the book brilliantly evokes the confluence of an inner and outer journey. The depth and richness of its spiritual message echo the thoughts and writings of Saint Francis of Assisi and other great saints of the Western Church as well. The result is a remarkable work–a moving, profoundly human examination of the role and the power of spirituality in a complex and confusing world.
Ranging broadly across Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Vedantic and Bhaktic Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, Hart explores how these great intellectual traditions treat humanity’s knowledge of the divine mysteries. Constructing his argument around three principal metaphysical “moments”—being, consciousness, and bliss—the author demonstrates an essential continuity between our fundamental experience of reality and the ultimate reality to which that experience inevitably points.
Thoroughly dismissing such blatant misconceptions as the deists' concept of God, as well as the fundamentalist view of the Bible as an objective historical record, Hart provides a welcome antidote to simplistic manifestoes. In doing so, he plumbs the depths of humanity’s experience of the world as powerful evidence for the reality of God and captures the beauty and poetry of traditional reflection upon the divine.
But, by the beginning of the 21st century, this faith that began in such fragility, and that became so powerful--even though its temporal power has now receded in its historic homelands--is the most widespread and diverse of all religions. Christianity is rapidly taking root in cultures very different from those in which it was born and in which it once flourished, and is assuming configurations that could not have been anticipated a century ago.
In The Story of Christianity, the distinguished theologian David Bentley Hart provides a broad picture of Christian history. Presented in 50 short chapters--each focusing on a critical facet of Christian history or theology, and each amplified by timelines, quotations, and color images--his magisterial account does full justice to the range of Christian tradition, belief and practice--Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Evangelical, Coptic, Chaldean, Ethiopian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Malankaran, to name but a few of the many possibilities.
From the persecutions of the early church to the papal-imperial conflicts of the Middle Ages, from the religious wars of 16th and 17th-century Europe to the challenges of science and secularism in the modern era, and from the ancient Christian communities of Africa and Asia to the "house churches" of contemporary China, The Story of Christianity triumphantly captures the heterogeneous richness of Christian history.
With this modest and simple statement, one of the world's great classics of spirituality begins. An anonymous Russian peasant of the nineteenth century sets out to seek the truth, attempting to follow St. Paul's command to "pray without ceasing." By chanting the Jesus Prayer ("Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me"), he attains a greater intimacy with God. Generations of readers, including Christians of all persuasions, have benefited by reading of the pilgrim's attempts to discipline his mind toward a constant awareness of God's presence as manifested through Christ's mercy.
In addition to its profound theological and philosophical observations, The Way of a Pilgrim offers an authentic portrait of Russia's social conditions during the final years of serfdom. Readers who appreciate the works of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy will delight in the author's encounters with a vast range of humanity, from monks, intellectuals, and hermits to peasants, convicts, and exiles.
Hart outlines how Christianity transformed the ancient world in ways we may have forgotten: bringing liberation from fatalism, conferring great dignity on human beings, subverting the cruelest aspects of pagan society, and elevating charity above all virtues. He then argues that what we term the "Age of Reason" was in fact the beginning of the eclipse of reason's authority as a cultural value. Hart closes the book in the present, delineating the ominous consequences of the decline of Christendom in a culture that is built upon its moral and spiritual values.
These stories -- "The Devil and Pierre Gernet," "The House of Apollo," "A Voice from the Emerald World," "The Ivory Gate," and "The Other" -- beguile and entrance the reader through Hart's engrossing, opulent writing style and the complex characters he evokes and explores.
Often bedazzling, sometimes heartbreaking, and ultimately mesmerizing, Hart's wide-ranging stories are united by a common thread of haunting religious and philosophical questions about this life and the next. Here is fiction to fully engage both the mind and the heart.
Spanning Hart's career both topically and over time, these essays cover such subjects as the Orthodox understanding of Eucharistic sacrifice; the metaphysics of Paradise Lost; Christianity, modernity, and freedom; death, final judgment, and the meaning of life; and many more.
In one series, the original writings of the universally acknowledged teachers of the Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Islamic and Native American traditions have been critically selected, translated and introduced by internationally recognized scholars and spiritual leaders.
The texts are first-rate, and the introductions are informative and reliable. The books will be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of every literate religious persons". -- The Christian Century
Why has Don Juan become so passé of late? What’s the trouble with Ayn Rand? How did the Doge of Venice come to venerate the counterfeit remains of Siddhartha Gautama? Why does the Bentley family’s collection of ancestral relics include a bronzed human thumb? And what, exactly, is the story behind Great Uncle Aloysius, who was born a Quaker but died a pagan?
This collection of occasional essays brings us David Bentley Hart at his finest: startlingly clear and deliciously abstruse, coolly wise and burningly witty, fresh and timeless, mystical and concrete — often all at once. Hart’s incisive blend of philosophy, moral theology, and cultural criticism, together with his flair for both the well-told story and the well-turned phrase, is sure to delight.
In Inner River, Kyriacos Markides—scholar, researcher, author, and pilgrim—takes us on a thrilling quest into the heart of Christian spirituality and mankind’s desire for a transcendent experience of God. From Maine’s rugged shores to a Cypriot monastery to Greece’s remote Mt. Athos and, ultimately, to an Egyptian desert, Markides encounters a diverse cast of characters that allows him to explore the worlds of the natural and the supernatural, of religion and spirit, and of the seen and the unseen.
Inner River will appeal to a wide range of readers, from Christians seeking insights into their religion and its various expressions to scholars interested in learning more about the mystical way of life and wisdom that have been preserved in the heart of Orthodox spirituality. Perhaps most important, however, is the bridge it offers contemporary readers to a Christian life that is balanced between the worldly and the spiritual.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Written with personal warmth and great erudition, Encountering the Mystery illuminates the rich culture and soul of Orthodox Christianity. Bartholomew traces the roots of Orthodox Christianity to its founding two thousand years ago, explores its spirituality and doctrine, and explains its liturgy and art. More especially, in a unique and unprecedented way, he relates Orthodox Christianity to contemporary issues, such as freedom and human rights, social justice and globalization, as well as nationalism and war.
With a recent rebirth of Orthodox Christian churches (particularly in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe), there has been great interest in understanding this important branch of Christianity with its close ties to the traditions of the early Church. As USA Today recently reported, Orthodox Christian churches throughout the country are drawing converts attracted by the beauty of its liturgy and inspired by its enduring theology. But for the general seeker, whatever their background, Encountering the Mystery is a rich spiritual source that draws upon the wisdom of millennia.
The second essay is also unique--the most important contribution to eucharistic theology by an Orthodox theologian. In the West, the meaning of the Communion bread and wine as the Christ's Body and Blood has been interpreted largely in philosophical terms deriving from Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. Bulgakov insists on a christological and Gospel-based interpretation, one with tremendous significance for our understanding of the supernatural and sophianic nature of a world interpenetrated by the divine.
This little book is a priceless gift, enriching our understanding of the Christian mystery and two of its deepest aspects, the Grail and the Eucharist.
Martin argues that Balthasar’s creative reception and modulation of the thought of these Russian philosophers is indicative of a broad speculative tendency in his work that deserves further attention. In this respect, Martin consciously challenges the prevailing view of Balthasar as a fundamentally conservative or nostalgic thinker. In her discussion of the relation between tradition and theological speculation, Martin also draws upon the understudied relation between Balthasar and F. W. J. Schelling, especially as Schelling's form of Idealism was passed down through the Russian thinkers. In doing so, she persuasively recasts Balthasar as an ecumenical, creatively anti-nostalgic theologian hospitable to the richness of contributions from extra-magisterial and non-Catholic sources.
into the Orthodox Church
Veiled in the smoke of incense, the Eastern Orthodox Church has long been an enigma to the Western world. Yet, as Frederica Mathewes-Green discovered, it is a vital, living faith, rich in ritual beauty and steadfast in integrity. Utilizing the framework of the Orthodox calendar, Mathewes-Green chronicles a year in the life of her small Orthodox mission church, eloquently illustrating the joys and blessings an ancient faith can bring to the worshipers of today.
"It is constantly assumed, especially in our Tolstoian tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like... That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is - can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? That is the problem the Church attempted; that is the miracle she achieved." - from Orthodoxy.
What did the early church teach about the problem of suffering and evil in the world? In this volume, distinguished historians and theologians explore a range of ancient Christian responses to this perennial problem. The ecumenical team of contributors includes John Behr, Gary Anderson, Brian Daley, and Bishop Kallistos Ware, among others. This is the fourth volume in Holy Cross Studies in Patristic Theology and History, a partnership between Baker Academic and the Pappas Patristic Institute of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. The series is a deliberate outreach by the Orthodox community to Protestant and Catholic seminarians, pastors, and theologians.
In his previous book The Mountain of Silence, Markides introduced us to the essential spiritual nature of Eastern Orthodoxy in a series of lively conversations with Father Maximos, the widely revered charismatic Orthodox bishop and former abbot of the isolated monastery on Mount Athos. In Gifts of the Desert, Markides continues his examination of Easter Orthodox mystical teachings and practices and captures its living expression through visits to monasteries and hermitages in Greece and America and interviews with contemporary charismatic elders, both male and female.
Markides’s pursuit of a deeper understanding of Orthodoxy takes him to the deserts of Arizona and a stay at a new monastery in Sedona; to the island of Cyprus and a reunion with Father Maximos; on a pilgrimage to holy shrines aboard a cruise ship in the Aegean Sea; and finally to the legendary Mount Athos, home to more than two thousand Orthodox monks. Markides relates his journey and reflections in a captivating style while providing important background material and information on historical events to give readers a highly accessible, in-depth portrait of a tradition little known in the West.
Gifts of the Desert will appeal to a wide range of people, from Christians seeking insights into their religion and its various expressions to scholars interested in learning more about the mystical way of life and wisdom that have been preserved on Mount Athos since the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the Great Schism that separated the Eastern and Western Churches. Perhaps most important, however, is the bridge it offers contemporary readers to a Christian life that is balanced between the worldly and the spiritual.
This revised edition includes a new preface, a new chapter, and an updated bibliography. In addition to updated demographic information, Clendenin examines at length a particular aspect of Orthodoxy's intersection with Protestantism-its growing exchange with evangelicalism.
Alexei Nesteruk reveals how the Orthodox tradition, deeply rooted in Greek Patristic thought, can contribute importantly in a way that the usual Western sources do not. Orthodox thought, he holds, profoundly and helpfully relates the experience of God to our knowledge of the world. His masterful historical introduction to the Orthodox traditions not only surveys key features of its theology but highlights its ontology of participation and communion. From this Nesteruk derives Orthodoxy's unique approach to theological and scientific attribution. Theology identifies the underlying principles (logoi) in scientific affirmations.
Nesteruk then applies this methodology to key issues in cosmology: the presence of the divine in creation, the theological meaning of models of creation, the problem of time, and the validity of the anthropic principle, especially as it relates to the emergence of humans and the Incarnation.
Nesteruk's unique synthesis is not a valorization of Eastern Orthodox thought so much as an influx of startlingly fresh ideas about the character of science itself and an affirmation of the ultimate religious and theological value of the whole scientific enterprise.
Originally published in 1914, the book is a series of twelve letters to a "brother" or "friend," who may be understood symbolically as Christ. Central to Florensky's work is an exploration of the various meanings of Christian love, which is viewed as a combination of philia (friendship) and agape (universal love). Florensky is perhaps the first modern writer to explore the so-called "same-sex unions," which, for him, are not sexual in nature. He describes the ancient Christian rites of the adelphopoiesis (brother-making), joining male friends in chaste bonds of love. In addition, Florensky is one of the first thinkers in the twentieth century to develop the idea of the Divine Sophia, who has become one of the central concerns of feminist theologians.
With the help of Biblical scholars and experts in Greek grammar this book delivers the truth about our idea of “damnation” and “hell”. Samuel Cox demonstrates how inaccurate and misleading these words are and that no such words are to be found in the Greek, that is in the original Testament. Cox clarifies the current conception of a final and ever-during place of torment and of a divine sentence which adjudges men to that place of torment.
This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.
“Our sole purpose is to expound the scriptures honestly and intelligently by permitting them to explain themselves; neither thrusting upon them miracles which they do not claim or dogmas to which they lend no support, nor venturing to question the doctrines they obviously teach or the miracles which they plainly affirm.” — Samuel Cox
While it cannot answer all these questions thoroughly, this concise booklet can help interested laity, theological students, and ministers come to understand and respect Eastern Catholicism for its many contributions to the universal Catholic Church.