"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).

Monday, March 3, 2014

Once There Was No Secular...

Though it depresses me somewhat to realize it, it was now close to two decades ago when I discovered the leading light of what came, in the 1990s, to be called the "Radical Orthodoxy" movement: John Milbank. Indeed, I flew down to the University of Virginia, where he was briefly a professor, to interview with him and ask him to direct my doctoral dissertation there. But he quickly repaired back to England after 9/11, and that was the end of that. Still, his book Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason, which was originally published in 1990, has remained a hugely influential work, worth the price of admission for its ringing opening line alone: "Once, there was no 'secular'."

He has returned to that theme and those arguments over the years in various articles, and now in a forthcoming book: Beyond Secular Order: The Representation of Being and the Representation of the People (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014), 298pp. About this book we are told:

Beyond Secular Order is the first of a two-volume work that expands upon renowned theologian John Milbank’s innovative attempt to understand both theology and modern thought begun in his previously published classic text Theology and Social Theory. Highlights:
  • Continues Milbank’s innovative attempt to understand both theology and modern thought begun in Theology and Social Theory – considered a classic work in the development of systematic theology
  • Authored by one of the world’s most influential and highly regarded contemporary theologians
  • Draws on a sweep of ideas and thinkers to argue that modern secularism is a form of Christian heresy that developed from the Middle Ages and can only be overcome by a renewed account of Christendom
  • Shows how this heresy can be transformed into a richer blend of religion, modernity and politics
  • Reveals how there is a fundamental homology between modern ideas about ontology and knowledge and modern ideas about political action, expressed in both theory and practice

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