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Where God Happens: Discovering Christ in One Another Paperback – August 14, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican Church, has penned a remarkable little book that makes it all both relevant and accessible. Even if the names of these monks and nuns are foreign to you, their pearls of wisdom are not. This is a great introduction to the early hermits. For those interested in learning more, the book ends with a wonderful chapter on monastic wisdom, with detailed notes and suggestions for further reading.”—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"Rowan Williams is a scholar and priest, a mystic and a poet, a contemplative and an advocate for social justice—all rare combinations for a church leader.  In Where God Happens, he combines his roles by examining the ancient wisdom of the Desert Fathers and interpreting the relevance of their teaching for Christian spirituality today. In the early monastics' search for the experience of God and an alternative style of community, he finds a new and deeper faith for the postmodern world. This compelling work of scholarship and spirituality shows why the Archbishop of Canterbury is truly a breath of fresh air and one of the most important and hopeful church leaders we have today."—Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine, author of God's Politics



"Rowan Williams calls for a Church renewed in contemplation. In the raucous circus of contemporary culture and religion nothing could be more important.  And this book is immensely practical—nailing us just where we are—teaching us that the spiritual life is 'not only about how prayer is to be experienced but about how humanity is to be understood.' There's a liberating sanity here in the simplicity of the message: 'our life is with our neighbor,' and 'being is communion.' This is required reading for spiritual pilgrims of all traditions."—Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, author of Soul Making and Reimagining Christianity



"This book is a marvelous introduction to the first Christian monks, the Desert Fathers, and makes their wisdom available and relevant for the twenty-first century reader; but it does more, since it is written in the same spirit as the texts from the desert, that is, as a clear window that will give direct access to God."—Benedicta Ward, translator of Sayings of the Desert Fathers and The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers

About the Author

Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, is an acclaimed theologian, writer, and pastor, in addition to being the spiritual leader of the world's 100 million Anglicans. He was a lecturer at Cambridge University and held the Lady Margaret Chair of Divinity at Oxford University. He has been Canon Theologian of Leicester Cathedral, Bishop of Monmouth in the Church of Wales, and Archbishop of Wales. He is the author of several books, including The Dwelling of Light and A Ray of Darkness.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: New Seeds (August 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590303903
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590303900
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #689,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rowan Douglas Williams was born in Swansea, south Wales on 14 June 1950, into a Welsh-speaking family, and was educated at Dynevor School in Swansea and Christ's College Cambridge where he studied theology. He studied for his doctorate - in the theology of Vladimir Lossky, a leading figure in Russian twentieth-century religious thought - at Wadham College Oxford, taking his DPhil in 1975. After two years as a lecturer at the College of the Resurrection, near Leeds, he was ordained deacon in Ely Cathedral before returning to Cambridge.

From 1977, he spent nine years in academic and parish work in Cambridge: first at Westcott House, being ordained priest in 1978, and from 1980 as curate at St George's, Chesterton. In 1983 he was appointed as a lecturer in Divinity in the university, and the following year became dean and chaplain of Clare College. 1986 saw a return to Oxford now as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church; he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1989, and became a fellow of the British Academy in 1990. He is also an accomplished poet and translator.

In 1991 Professor Williams accepted election and consecration as bishop of Monmouth, a diocese on the Welsh borders, and in 1999 on the retirement of Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones he was elected Archbishop of Wales, one of the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion. Thus it was that, in July 2002, with eleven years experience as a diocesan bishop and three as a leading primate in the Communion, Archbishop Williams was confirmed on 2 December 2002 as the 104th bishop of the See of Canterbury: the first Welsh successor to St Augustine of Canterbury and the first since the mid-thirteenth century to be appointed from beyond the English Church.

Dr Williams is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer, scholar and teacher. He has been involved in many theological, ecumenical and educational commissions. He has written extensively across a very wide range of related fields of professional study - philosophy, theology (especially early and patristic Christianity), spirituality and religious aesthetics - as evidenced by his bibliography. He has also written throughout his career on moral, ethical and social topics and, since becoming archbishop, has turned his attention increasingly on contemporary cultural and interfaith issues.

As Archbishop of Canterbury his principal responsibilities are however pastoral - leading the life and witness of the Church of England in general and his own diocese in particular by his teaching and oversight, and promoting and guiding the communion of the world-wide Anglican Church by the globally recognized ministry of unity that attaches to the office of bishop of the see of Canterbury.

His interests include music, fiction and languages.

In 1981 Dr Williams married Jane Paul, a lecturer in theology, whom he met while living and working in Cambridge. They have a daughter and a son.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The bland title of this book gives no hint of its powerful subject matter or of its important message. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and the leader of the worldwide Anglican church, introduces the Egyptian desert fathers and mothers of the fourth century in such a way as to show how and why they remain so relevant for today. I count this as one of the best books on Christian discipleship or formation that I have read in the past year.

If you are unfamiliar with desert monasticism this book is an excellent place to start. An introduction situates the monastic movement in its day and age, suggests some of its salient characteristics and themes, disabuses us of superficial caricatures, makes liberal use of primary sayings and stories from the monastics, and, best of all, suggests specific contemporary applications for church life today. Williams is not only a notable scholar; he is an excellent writer with enviable pastoral sensitivities. In four chapters he examines Life, Death, and Neighbors; Silence and Honey Cakes; Fleeing; and then Staying. The book concludes with a substantial collection of the sayings of the desert fathers organized by theme--hospitality, obedience, modesty, charity, discretion, humility, and so on (pp. 123-161). An all too brief bibliography suggests further reading.

Probably no one who reads this book will become a monk, but that is besides the point. One of the desert mothers, Amma Syncletica, explains: "There are many who live in the mountains and behave as if they were in the towns. You can be solitary in your mind even when you live in the middle of the crowd. And you can be a solitary and still live in the middle of the crowd of your own thoughts.
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Format: Hardcover
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (8/06)

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, draws from the wisdom of "the Desert Monks" for their teaching from the monastic life to bring us this study on contemplation, community, and life with God.

The Desert Father's understanding of issues on community and living together in an intimate meaningful way are central in the lessons we can learn from these teachings.

Williams looks at fourth century Christian hermits living in the deserts of Egypt, Syria, and Palestine as role models for today's culture. Their teaching for dealing with the anxieties, uncertainties, and feelings of isolation are as relevant today as in their day.

In the foreward Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus, states, "It is good to know that the desert mothers and fathers said we can all be contemplatives and that we can have our deserts in the crowded places where we live and work."

The wisdom of the desert tradition provides many insights into the inner workings of the spiritual life. "If the motives of the desert mothers and fathers could be summed up in one aspiration, it would be to come to the state of continuous prayer...such prayer is not a matter of words or forms but an opening of consciousness to the life of the spirit flowing in the present moment of God, the making of our mind to be one with the mind of Christ."

In the introduction to the book, Laurence Freeman, OSB, Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation, commented on what "pure" prayer should be, "That means that it is more centered in and characterized by the silence of the heart and less in the images and concepts of mental prayer or in external ritual.
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By JC on September 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
"We must flee from `thoughts' (logismoi in Greek)......chains of obsessional fantasy that can take over our inner life"

Williams has penned a brief introductory text into contemplative spirituality focussed on the quality of our relationships with our neighbours. It is an outcome of a series of presentations given by him in Sydney Australia in 2001 on behalf of The World Community for Christian Meditation. In addition the book has a forward by Desmond Tutu and an important contribution by Laurence Freeman.

The 174 page book has six main parts, the introduction to Christian Desert Monasticism is given by Laurence Freeman, then Williams provides the core in four themed chapters: (i). Life, Death, and Neighbours, (ii). Silence and Honey Cakes, (iii). Fleeing and (iv). Staying. Then, finally, Laurence Freeman provides a selection of sayings concerning the monastic wisdom of the Christian desert.

The purpose of the book is to encourage us to re-invigorate our spiritual life, elevate the contemplative lifestyle and find Christ within and in each other. It is a story of silence and relationships; it is a story of the rock and reality of God's grace in our lives. Indeed, in the West, it is a call to re-awaken our awareness of the Christian contemplative tradition, centred on the wisdom of the desert Fathers and Mothers from the 3rd Century onwards. It is the story of finding and being with God in all things.

This book is suitable for those who are looking at reinvigorating their prayer life and searching for calm within as the storms of life buffer our souls on a daily basis.
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