"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).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sacramental Tapestry

I have just received a fascinating new book written by Hans Boersma: Heavenly Participation: The Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry (Eerdmans, 2011), xii+206pp.

What is this book about? Here is the publisher's blurb:
Surveying the barriers that contemporary thinking has erected between the natural and the supernatural, between earth and heaven, Hans Boersma issues a wake-up call for Western Christianity. Both Catholics and evangelicals, he says, have moved too far away from a sacramental mindset, focusing more on the "here-and-now" than on the "then-and-there." Yet, as Boersma points out, the teaching of Jesus, Paul, and St. Augustine -- indeed, of most of Scripture and the church fathers -- is profoundly otherworldly, much more concerned with heavenly participation than with earthly enjoyment.

In Heavenly Participation Boersma draws on the wisdom of great Christian minds ancient and modern -- Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, C. S. Lewis, Henri de Lubac, John Milbank, and many others. He urges Catholics and evangelicals alike to retrieve a sacramental worldview, to cultivate a greater awareness of eternal mysteries, to partake eagerly of the divine life that transcends and transforms all earthly realities.
While much of the book is taken up with a dialogue between evangelical and Catholic sources, there is, as noted above, a great deal of patristic wisdom pressed into service here from such as Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine of Hippo, and other Eastern Christians whom Boersma discusses, including Alexander Schmemann, Andrew Louth, and Maximus the Confessor.

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