"There is nothing wiser than the circle," Rilke says in his Stories of God. John Dunne's new book explores the wisdom of the circle. He uses the metaphor of the circle dance, a folk dance in which the women form an inner circle, holding hands and moving clockwise; the men form an outer circle, moving counterclockwise. When the music stops the person opposite you is your partner for the next dance. Dunne interprets the circle as the great circle of life and light and love that comes from God and returns to God.
Dunne emphasizes the far point on the circle, farthest away from God, and uses that to discuss the difficulties of our secular age. In the individual life, the far point is a dark night of the soul. Yet Dunne sees that far point of loneliness and darkness as a point as well, marking the return to love and light. So the theme of the book is like the words of an old Bedouin to Lawrence of Arabia, "The love is from God, and of God, and towards God." The book concludes with the words of twenty-one "Circle Songs," composed by the author.
"This remarkable book records the spiritual search of a lifetime. It articulates this search through a series of powerful recurring images--that of a centre of stillness surrounded by silence, that of the circle dance of time itself, and many others--which confront and connect with and explicate each other in a number of combinations. The faith which is struggling to find expression is a Christian faith, but the images come from a great many sources and have been framed by people on many spiritual paths. What emerges is a powerful vision of Christian faith, centred in the Gospel promise of eternal life, which is at the same time in continuous exchange with the other great traditions, religious and philosophical, of human spiritual search. This combination of profundity and openness makes The Circle Dance very much a book for our time." --Charles Taylor, McGill University
"I think of John Dunne as a kind of erudite Catholic Tevye, carrying on such an intimate conversation with God that we can learn about love just by listening in. Repetitive in the same way as Proust, or the rosary, his Circle Dance of Time is so joyful a meditation on our journey through time with and toward God that in places I thought my heart might burst; maybe better not to read before bed. " --Melinda Henneberger, Editor-in-chief, PoliticsDaily.com