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Christ the Heart of Creation

Christ the Heart of CreationChrist the Heart of Creation by Rowan Williams
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Despite philosophical training in metaphysics, I'm not all that interested in theological metaphysics. My basic metaphysical approach is the organic philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and the traditions of Process philosophy and American pragmatism. But when it comes to theology I approach the language as metaphorical and shrouded in mystery and have no real impulse for the sort of nuanced language that can occupy theological metaphysics.

Which means this book was a serious stretch for me. Because Williams is very interested in the very nuanced and complex metaphysical Christological language in the church's tradition. I stuck with the book and found a few interesting points and gems here and there (the appendix on Wittgenstein was maybe the most interesting). But really I just spent most of the time unconvinced that anyone should spend time caring about these details.

It was also a stretch because my process/pragmatic worldview begins with a very different set of premises than Williams. Things he assumes again and again as starting points were to me the very things that needed to be argued for, for I often disagreed.

And Williams is not an engaging writer at all. I have enjoyed the theological metaphysics of John Zizioulas for instance, but his writing is very engaging. The same cannot be said for the former archbishop. Though this phrase did make me cackle (and text a Lutheran friend): "Luther was not exactly a monophysite."

So, the benefit of reading this book was stretching myself and reading a very different approach and style than my own.

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Leibniz

Leibniz: Philosophical EssaysLeibniz: Philosophical Essays by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I first read most of this volume while in a graduate school class on the Rationalists a quarter century ago. This time I re-read the Discourse on Metaphysics, the Monadology, and a some other essays. I wasn't quite as intrigued by Leibniz this time around as last time. The Monadology is far more interesting than the Discourse.

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The Rings of Saturn

The Rings of SaturnThe Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A mesmerizing book. Not really a novel at all. There is no plot and there really are no serious characters. A narrator is on a walking tour of Suffolk, but that is the merest of structures, as the narrator's voice goes off on chapter-long tangents about all sorts of subjects from Joseph Conrad to the Dowager Empress of China to silk production in Germany.

Themes of change, loss, decline, and decay dominate this book, along with the moods these generate.

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The Art of the Saint John's Bible

The Art of The Saint John's Bible: The Complete Reader's GuideThe Art of The Saint John's Bible: The Complete Reader's Guide by Susan Sink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What's really amazing is the St. John's Bible itself, but this guide to the art is a marvelous book in its own right. One could use it as an introductory study guide to the Bible or as a devotional book. Built around the new practice of visio divina, the artistic images are used to draw you into contemplation of the Bible by the way they interpret and comment upon the text, rather than simply illustrate it.

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