Bloomsbury Continuum, 240 pages
I have often thought that Rowan Williams becoming Archbishop of Canterbury was the best thing for the Anglican Communion. That tenure lasted a stormy 10 years until Williams resigned, returning to his first love: teaching theology and writing on contemporary concerns. Since that time, there has been considerable effort to collect his various essays. Those collected in this book display Williams’ theological and pastoral depth and is accessible for a wide range of readers.
His main theme is living into “holiness,” an old-fashioned word that Williams brilliantly recovers for contemporary Christians. He discusses prayer and spirituality from several angles including that of Teresa of Ávila and Julian of Norwich, two women who hold a special place in his rendering of the Christian life. For those wondering about health and healing, Williams writes, “We need to recover the sense that the Gospel is always about healing, because it is always about telling effectively and transformingly how God has inhabited and continues to inhabit this world.”
The subjects in the book are wide-ranging and include chapters on reading the Bible, engaging in urban ministry that is rooted in spirituality, human sexuality and sin. Among contemporary theologians, Williams can be maddeningly difficult to understand. Yet he also stands out for his pastoral insights and capacity to write for lay audiences; this book is a fine example — it’s one of his most accessible.