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3.8 out of 5 stars
Angels in the Architecture: A Protestant Vision for Middle Earth
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. My soul simply aches after reading anything in it. I especially enjoyed the chapter Wine Dark Sea, and its analysis of ancient pagan art. Wilson claims that Jesus Christ has overthrown that regime, and the only beauty available to us now is through Him. Even non-Christians, in producing works of great art, must do so in reference to Christianity.
However, there is one major flaw in this book, though perhaps the authors never intended to address this issue. That flaw is this: the authors make the claim that the Medieval times were times when truth, beauty, and goodness were defining charateristics. It's fine to make that claim, but there is no proof of it in the book that I can see. I _want_ to believe it simply because I see no beauty whatsoever in modernity or post-modernity. I want to believe them, yet I know next to nothing about the Medieval times. It seems to me that the authors might very profitably spend some time supporting their claim that the Medieval period was everything they claim it was. Or perhaps they have already done that, and haven't produced the evidence of their work. In either case, I want to see the proof!
You've whetted my appetite, now satisfy it!
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
This book presents a unique discussion about curtailing modernity's petrifying effects on the soul. It offers what other recent modernity challengers (David Wells, Os Guinsess, etc. ) have missed--what to do about it? The authors' solution is to pick up where midievalism left off at the Reformation, and pursue with abandon the qualities of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness both in and out of the church. The book avoids much of the sarchasim for which the authors have become quite famous, and instead demonstrates the authors' more noble abilities to communicate maturely. The vision of a modern, Reformed, midievalism is bazaar, I know, but one seriously wonders if modernity and postmodernity can be toppled any other way. One warning: Angels in the Acrhitecture will bring the vileness of your own modernity to the surface. If you don't know that it's there already, be sure you're ready for a deep, heart-felt challenge to your very unbeautiful, self-consuming, authority-rejecting, relationship-escaping, trite, non-sovereign God-Worshipping, poetry-loathing, sectarianism-endorsing, Madison Avenue-copying worldview. For those who know they fit this mold, here is the iron mallot to break that mold forever. My fifth star is missing not because I don't believe the book deserves five stars, but because I have of late reserved five star status for fine poetry only.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Modernism has failed. While most of the intelligentsia still view the world through the strict, formal constructs of the modernist lens, the actual system is a dying religion. The "enlightenment" has kept many blindfolded through the centuries of its existence. The so-called "reason" of enlightenment thought has imprisoned and murdered. It has created the cold, ugly world in which we now live.
But what is to be done? It seems as though these Dark Ages will never end. Even most Christians, who should know better, have bowed before the god of modernity. Should we despair? It certainly seems justified. However, amidst the darkness which enshrouds the mass of pop-Christian fluff books and secular nonsense stands a wonderful new book called Angels in the Architecture, written by Douglas Jones and Douglas Wilson. In this book, Jones and Wilson remind us that things have not always been like they are now. There was an age when truth, beauty, and goodness were the defining virtues: what has been called the Medieval period. This was an age in which God was both glorified and enjoyed. Modernist Christians believe that we are more holy if we eternally wear a long sour face and suck on lemons. Medieval Christians believed that God had called them to enjoy life - to laugh, to play, and to feast.
But Jones and Wilson do not merely look back at the medieval period with nostalgia. They apply what used to be to what could be. Rather than falling into the trap of pessimism and despairing lamenting about our culture, Angels in the Architecture presents a multi-faced display of what life, culture, and a worldview should be. Douglas Jones gives a good overview of the book by describing what virtues a Christian culture should manifest:
"[A] love of beauty permeating every part of life; a deep respect for the majesty and liberty of God; a holy recognition of the deep biblical antithesis; humility in covenantal redemption - imputed righteousness; laughter as a habit of life; a devotion to celebration - feasting and lovemaking; the centrality of the Church; a humble submission to godly tradition; the peace of federal headship in marriage; a soulful nurturing of children for millennia; a community shaped by rural rhythms; self-responsibility and a fading state; an acknowledgement of creational hierarchies; a harmony of gratitude and discipline in developing technologies; the predominance of poetic over rationalistic knowledge; a confidence in the triumph of the cross."
This book is probably the best book a Christian could read in order to get a vision of what Wilson terms "a second Christendom" would be like. We should be striving to conform ourselves not to a rigid, formal, modernistic Christianity, but a Christianity full of life, zest, and power. Until we break free from the cage called modernity, we shall never truly experience and enjoy the life that God has given to us.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
Anyone who has read or heard material produced by the Dougs (Wilson and Jones) of Canon Press can appreciate their contributions and insight to the discussions within the evangelical church. However, it is their thoughts and scholarly work on the pursuit of the full, Christian life where they are at their best. What Angels in the Architecture suggests is nothing short of revolutionary. Not an Oliver-Cromwell-meets-Paul-Revere type of revolution, but a much more insidious revolution that spans the distance of even centuries. It is the kind of revolution whose battlefields are the family gathered for dinner, the place where the rod meets the rump, an author's godly and submissive inspirations, the church gathered for the Lord's supper. Christian medievalism must be a grass-roots revolution, calling for faithfulness and generational patience in Christ's body. The Dougs teach us that we must stand on the broad shoulders of our godly church traditions and begin to think and feel the rhythmns of truth, beauty, and goodness before the face of God. Our culture must be transformed, so we must see the urgency and the opportunites that surround us. The Protestant Reformation may have preserved God's truth, but we must synthesize reformational truth with the glorious cultural visions of our medieval fathers. In Angels in the Architecture, Jones and Wilson have broken the ice. Now we must see how deep the water goes.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
Angels in the Architecture (AA) is a bold, magnificent book. And when it is wrong in factual assertions, it is magnificently wrong. Ok, seriously. The authors propose against the stale, bloody worldview of modernity a rich, robust *paleo* medieval worldview rooted in Protestant Theology. My review will come from a number of angles.

*What if Tolkien were a Calvinist?*
The subtitle suggests Tolkienesque themes. This book (AA) should not be read as a historical survey of the middle ages that ends with the convenient conclusion, "Oh, the middle ages happened to be thoroughly protestant after all." No, this book reads as a reconstruction of the Christian worldview-praxis drawing from the finest elements of Medievalism.

Pros of the Book:
1. Its hauntingly beautiful style. Chapters 2 and 3 are worth memorizing. They will teach you how to write well. The sections on Beowulf and "pure northerness" are worth the price of the book.
2. Its boldness. Modern-day Calvinism needs to make Calvinism beautiful. There is nothing wrong with that. Be winsome and witty in presenting the faith. More people might actually become Calvinists, who knows?
3. Its ability to say a lot with a little. At times the authors do engage in sweeping generalizations. Nevertheless, they also express some knotty problems with amazing ease.

Cons of the Book:
~1. Accuracy? Did the Middle Ages really teach this? Probably not. That's not the point, as I suggested earlier. This should be read as a future reconstruction of society along medieval lines, lines which have been purged (no pun intended) of its compromises.
~2. I am not convinced of Wilson's argument for the Authorized Text. He makes a good case, but I am not buying.
~3. The chapter on agrarianism has taken a lot of hits. I actually like it. But I was told that I shouldn't like it, so I acquiesed. Seriously, the authors could have better nuanced it to say "garden-city" as man's telos.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Imagine growing up in a Christian church and never experiencing joy...Why? I don't listen to much CCM these days for pretty much the same reason so many grow up in churches without joy: It seems that too many are afraid of life! Somehow, if they experience the joys of God's wonderful creation, it must be wrong...Being so quick to dismiss anything prior to the industrial revolution as antiquated, we have fallen prey to a false piety...almost a soul-less exsistance where sin is found in matter (it most certainly does not!), and life is only something to survive in.This book brings Calvinism home. God created all things, and part of our worship of Him is to express our thanks by enjoying His creation. As Christians, we should fear NOT to celebrate His goodness...why do we preach joy, but not live it?This book brings it home.Again.PHyatt
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on October 27, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The authors of this book present an attractive vision of a world in which we revel in the goodness of God. I was drawn to their desire to live in a world where Christianity is assumed, where we understand that beauty comes from God and he wants us to feast on his gifts. It is hard to do this book justice in a short review, the vision soars beyond that. I particularly enjoyed their emphasis on having a poetic view of the world, and I think they must have applied it well as they tackled our need for high views of God, his church, hierarchies of authority, work, family, stories, our relationships, art and theology because I felt myself being carried to a place of greater understanding and appreciation for a full and contemplative view of reality.

I wish they had gone into a few more specifics, particularly on the federal understanding of marriage, and while I agreed with much of the concept they were attempting to communicate as they discussed Bible translation (church authority) I simply cannot stand with them on the AV translation for today nor the textus receptus.
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on July 11, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Wow! Stirred my soul, challenged my mind, warmed my heart. A comparative look at the values of the protestant church during the medieval age verses the western world and protestant church in the modern age we find ourselves in. For all the technological advances and scientific breakthroughs we moderns enjoy, this book awakened my soul to see just how spiritually malnourished we are today. The authors' words were like a fiery arrow piercing my soul.

I didn't agree with everything the authors put forth. I strongly disagreed with a few of their positions but the overall case they presented in this masterpiece was both inspirational and convicting, maybe even "life changing."

We, Christians, have much to learn from those who have journeyed before us and when we do we will find wisdom, joy and a fulfillment we didn't know we were lacking.

Wonderful! Wonderful book!
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on January 14, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Three stars because the essays are unevenly written, which is distracting when I am trying to focus on the content.

As for the content, I enjoyed this book tremendously, beginning with chapter 4 on the divide between the Christian and non-Christian worldviews. Chapter 7 was an interesting look at how meals were used in worship and how to recover that method of praising God for his bounty, without crossing into gluttony. It was a very entertaining chapter. The entire book is a very worthwhile look at all aspects of life, familial (chapter 11) and political (chapters 13 & 14), and how we have lost much to modernity and post-modernity, and how we can begin to recover this lost ground.
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on October 6, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book is basically a systematic critique of the emptiness and shallowness of Modernism, which has unfortunately affected even the church today. In contrast, the authors extol the virtues of the Medieval mind, which was poetic, communitarian, and big enough to include all the vast wonders of God and angels that the modern mind is too small and narrow to comprehend.

The chapter on God's beauty and holiness, which is essentially an explanation of what C.S. Lewis called "pagan northernness" and includes a mini-commentary on Beowulf, is worth the price of the whole book.

Highly recommended!
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