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Book for the Fall

Hello –

Last week I wrote to you with a recommendation for your summer reading to feed your soul. The book is called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, and despite the awkward title, it is both accessible and powerful. It’s a series of fifteen reflections on fifteen short psalms and how each can encourage us on our Christian pilgrimage through life. It makes ideal daily reading, one psalm a day. Here’s the link to Amazon.

This week, I want to tell you about a book I’ll be reading starting in August and then, with Tanner, I’ll co-hosting a series of three Book Studies in the fall. The book is called The Politics of Virtue and is by two brilliant Brits who are leaders of an Ecumenical movement called Radical Orthodoxy. One of them, at least, John Milbank, is an Anglican Christian.

In the Politics of Virtue, Milbank and his colleague, Adrian Pabst, present what they call the “Metacrisis of Liberalism” in four faces: capitalism, democracy, culture and the nations. Each chapter on the Metacrisis is followed by a chapter with a Radically Orthodox Christian response.

Two clarifications might be helpful here. By Liberalism they mean a way of organizing society that dates at least to the 18th Century Enlightenment. The working assumptions of both the Democratic and Republican parties are Liberal in this sense.

Metacrisis means that the assumptions of this Liberalism lack the resources to adequately address the many layers of crisis of our time. Milbank and Pabst believe we must turn to our Christian roots for sustainable and Post-Liberal solutions to the Metacrisis. For example, what happens to our economy if we fully embrace the words we often say at the Eucharist, “all things come from Thee, O LORD, and of thine own have we given Thee”? What would a true Gift Economy look like?

If you want to consider reading the book, the table in the Vestibule has a stack of copies of a two page review and the Introduction to the book. If you email me, I’d be happy to send you a PDF of that packet. Here’s the link to The Politics of Virtue on Amazon.

Tanner and I will be hosting conversations on The Politics of Virtue on the first Tuesdays of the month for three months starting September 5th. Conversations will be from 7pm to 8:30pm and will be preceded by Evening Prayer at 6:30pm and followed by relaxed hospitality.

I haven’t yet read the whole book, so I don’t know what to think of it yet. It may not be sufficiently Augustinian for me. We’ll see! By the time we have the last of the three scheduled discussions on November 7th, thanks to discussions with many of you, I hope to have a well formed perspective.

At St. Paul’s, we will have a full array of other experiences for you and for people of all ages for the fall. There’s plenty of time in August to communicate the full range of activities. In the meantime, I hope you are intrigued by the possibility of intellectual exploration through The Politics of Virtue. I’m inviting Christians throughout Marin to join us and so to experience the hospitable beauty of our restored campus.

I’m here for two more Sundays and then leave for vacation for the rest of July. Once again, you’ll be in the good hands of the Rev. Jim Ward for services and pastoral care, and ably served by the more than a dozen lay leaders who continue the excellent work on our campus. Up next- the bathrooms!


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