"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, January 12, 2018

Killing Matthew Levering: A How-To Guide

If I were trapped on the proverbial island in the middle of nowhere, and could only pick one contemporary Roman Catholic theologian to share my solitude, I'm quite sure it would be Matthew Levering. Conversation with him would never flag or bore, and always unearth new things to think about, or, better, old things in a new way. He manages, with astonishing effortlessness, to range freely and widely across Christian tradition East and West (both Catholic and Protestant) in search of answers to questions today, being, as I have said of him before, that "scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven [who] is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old" (Matt. 13:52).

This scribe, whose evangelical pen never rests, has another book coming out this month. With Lent being relatively early this year, and Lent being a time to contemplate both dying to ourselves and the dying of Christ, this book will make for very suitable ante-paschal reading in our spiritual deserts: Dying and the Virtues by Matthew Levering (Eerdmans, 2018), 352pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
In this rich book Matthew Levering explores nine key virtues that we need to die (and live) well: love, hope, faith, penitence, gratitude, solidarity, humility, surrender, and courage.
Retrieving and engaging a variety of biblical, theological, historical, and medical resources, Levering journeys through the various stages and challenges of the dying process, beginning with the fear of annihilation and continuing through repentance and gratitude, suffering and hope, before arriving finally at the courage needed to say goodbye to one’s familiar world. 
Grounded in careful readings of Scripture, the theological tradition, and contemporary culture, Dying and the Virtues comprehensively and beautifully shows how these nine virtues effectively unite us with God, the One who alone can conquer death.

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