SPCK, 160 pages
This is a book about stories. Rowan Williams has chosen 20 people from across the centuries who have proven to be beacons of illumination for the rest of us. He is candid about the daunting task of choosing these rather than others: “a book at least ten times the length of this one could be put together and still be incomplete.” Yet in these figures, we see glimpses of how the story of God is enacted in human beings, some with glaring faults who are nevertheless demonstrations of the light of Christ. Williams writes, “The Christian faith is the practice of making sense of lives that make sense of the world.” All of these stories in some way reveal Jesus’ story among us. They also compel us to think about our own stories and how they are making sense – or not – of our lives. This is a book of history spanning 20 centuries with Williams providing comments drawn from sermons, lectures and pastoral talks on each figure, beginning with St. Paul and concluding with Archbishop Oscar Romero. “These are people whose lives seem to me to be ‘theological’ lives, lives worth thinking about because they make sense in often critical, disparate or unusual situations.” In his academic writings Williams can be maddeningly dense. In his pastoral writings, like this collection, he is winsome and clear, providing wise encouragement for those wanting to know the Christian way and walk in it with faith and courage. This book would make an excellent small group study, focusing attention on one figure each week.