Looking East in Winter
Author Rowan Williams
Publisher Bloomsbury Continuum £20.00
Our former Archbishop has produced a profound academic study about the theological perspectives of the eastern Orthodox tradition, and how these illuminate and perhaps refresh the Christian practices of the modern west. Williams has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Eastern Christianity, and I suspect no reader will fail to gather new information and insight from the wealth of references in this book. But the theological value comes from the way the author reflects on how these insights impact on our spiritual lives, our prayer and our liturgy. For, as the title suggests, we are experiencing in our present age a spiritual winter, which may be alleviated by looking to the east. Nonetheless, this is not an easy read. The prose is quite dense, and the complexity of argument often slows the pace of reading, though clarity comes with perseverance. I especially appreciated the chapters on participation in the divine (see 2 Peter1:4) and the author’s treatment of liturgy in what he calls ‘the anthropology of worship and sacrament’. This book may not have many obvious applications to teaching or pastoral ministry, but it will strengthen individuals’ spirituality.
Reviewed by MALCOLM DAWSON