Theology For Dark Times

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 18 2012 @ 8:27pm


Reviewing a new book on Rowan Williams' theology, Christ the Stranger, Wesley Hill notes how Williams focuses on "God's elusiveness, God's refusal to satisfy our yearning, our quest for uncomplicated assurance":

One of the most insightful and poignant moments in [author Benjamin] Myers' book is when he links Williams' theology to the church season of Lent. Lent is the moment in the church's calendar in which Williams' theology seems most at home. During the forty days leading up to Easter, we practice abstinence, we repent and discipline our desires, placing our hands over our mouths, partaking of what Bulgakov calls the "luminous sorrow" of the preparatory fast. If we recognize the legitimacy of this pentitential discipline, perhaps we can better appreciate what Williams aims to achieve in his theology. But at the same, recognizing that Lent eventually yields up its shadows to the brightness of Easter, perhaps we can also find room to criticize Williams' choice to linger over Lent. Darkness and fasting can't be the whole story. "A theology of Lent is a great thing," writes Myers, "but one cannot live by ash alone." 

Still, whatever his excesses, Hill believes Williams might be a necessary corrective to the optimism of modernity.

(Photo by Flickr user Luz Adriana Villa A)