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Christ the Stranger: The Theology of Rowan Williams Paperback – April 5, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Myers' book exhibits many of the traits he describes in the theology of Rowan Williams: an attentiveness and care that make the familiar strange, a sparse but rich prose that bears re-reading, a seeking always for historical foundations. In fact, this elegant book is a complex intellectual biography that convincingly roots its hero in a series of engagements, but those engagements are then shown to occur within an ongoing reflection on the life of prayer. Throughout the complex paths of Williams' theology are introduced with clarity and verve." -Lewis Ayres, Durham University

"With skill and a keen eye for what makes for a helpful summary, Myers charts the way in which Williams relentlessly returns, like a finger finding its way back to a still-unhealed wound, to the themes of God's elusiveness, God's refusal to satisfy our yearning, our quest for uncomplicated assurance." -Books and Culture

"Myers' lucid exposition has a strong poetic quality. In fact, Christ the Stranger is poetic theology in which the voices of Myers and Williams slowly fade, leaving the reader confronted by the disturbing, disruptive, liberating Christ to whom they point." -Simon Perry

Selected in The Guardian as one of the best books of 2012, and selected in The Christian Century as one of the year's top books in religion and philosophy.

"While some volumes are written merely to inform or defend, Christ the Stranger is composed with an eye to delight. In sixteen brief chapters - vignettes more than expositions - this slim volume offers a clear and compelling sketch of the views of Rowan Williams, the previous archbishop of Canterbury, on sociality, tragedy, language, boundaries, tradition, growth, mission, saints, desire, hope, prayer, fantasy and renunciation. The result is a beautifully composed introduction to one of the richest theological minds of our generation." -European Journal of Theology

"Benjamin Myers has produced the kind of book to which more academics should aspire." -Religion and the Arts

"An accessible, interesting, and persuasive account of this difficult yet important modern theologian." -Alister McGrath

"This is really a very good book. Like the writings of its subject, it is at once engagingly readable and densely complex." -Medi Ann Volpe

About the Author

Benjamin Myers is lecturer in systematic theology at Charles Sturt University's School of Theology in Sydney. He is author of many essays in theology and literature and writes at the popular blog, Faith and Theology.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury T&T Clark; 1 edition (April 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 056759971X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0567599711
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #841,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Benjamin Myers is Lecturer in Systematic Theology at Charles Sturt University in Sydney, Australia. He writes about theology, literature, and the history of Christian thought.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By American Down Under on April 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
Ben Myers renders clear the obscure. Rowan Williams is a complex and, for many, a confusing modern theologian. Add to that the fact that he has for the last decade or so been embroiled in controversy over contentious issues in the Anglican communion. Myers offers a deep and sympathetic, but also critical, reading of Williams' theology.

Myers lays bare the intellectual and spiritual roots of Williams' theology. Specifically, he shows the way in which William's thought has been shaped by sustained engagements with Wittgenstein, MacKinnon, Augustine, Russian Orthodox theology, Freud, Gillian Rose's Hegelianism, and various forms of ascetic practice. This provides an interpretive framework for understanding Williams' sometimes difficult writings, and illuminates the theological background to some of his more controversial decisions (e.g., his positions on Sharia law and homosexuality, respectively).

The book is not heavy-handed or polemical. Myers often lets Williams' positions speak for themselves. This charitable approach makes this an ideal book for readers sympathetic or critical to Williams. If one is already positively disposed towards Williams, this book will be eminently helpful in showing the way his thought has been formed over the decades. The reader with sharp disagreements will discover where the disagreement truly originates.

While Myers seems sympathetic towards much of Williams' thought, this does not turn the book into iconography. Myers demonstrates a patient and loving listening to the thought of Williams. While the book is not without celebrations and criticisms, for the most part the reader is left to make up her own mind with regard to the legitimacy and import of Williams' thought.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wendland on November 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
Ben Myer's book is brave. Rowan Williams must surely be one of the more daunting figures in theology to try to summarize. I'm not sure if his analysis will stand the test of time (or William's own idiosyncrasies), but I really loved the book, and it gets the conversation started. Here are few brief summary points I took from my initial reading:

1. Redemption=new life, new language (Wittgenstein).
2. The world 'as such' is inherently meaningless.
3. Moral reasoning exposes the claustrophobic limits of our capabilities.
4. Christ's resurrection is the root trauma/wound (Freud) that gives rise to Christian identity.
5. The doctrine of "original sin" should keep us suspicious of easy certainties and attentive (Simone Weil, Philokalia) to real human experience.
6. Continuity with tradition can demand a break in linguistic continuity.
7. Hegel as Christian philosopher of opposition, not synthesis. The church is the "rough draft" of the new humanity.
8. The church is not an end in itself.
9. Sainthood is the intensification of what it means to be fully human. Often saints appear "knocked off balance".
10. Perversion occurs when desire is asymmetrical. Love grants our desire only by surpassing it.
11. Christian hope does not invalidate the tragic vision of life, but transfigured it and discloses its inner significance.
12. Prayer subverts the hidden power operations of our theological language.
13. Art as a way of drawing us out of ourselves.
14. "Everything we ever said about God is broken on Christ: in him everything is given back and made new."

Highly recommended!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Hamill on December 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Christ the Stranger is beautifully written, hard to put down and fulfils its promise of critical engagement in a way which makes Rowan Williams more rather than less interesting. highly recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nathan bitecofer on February 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book will challenge your faith (in a good way) forcing you to seriously evaluate you approach to your relationship with God.
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