Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pelikan, Waugh, & Williams - Thoughts on Vacation Reading

I'm almost done Volume 4 "Reformation of Church and Dogma" by Jaroslav Pelikan. I read a big chunk of it on my vacation this last week, and I've really enjoyed it. I didn't want to read anything about Zwingli or any more about Calvin (no offense), but I pushed on through that part and got to Trent which I thoroughly enjoyed. I feel like Pelikan is the most objective historian out there. He doesn't single-mindedly affirm any position really, and he puts in really interesting facts about them. I never knew how big an impact Zwingli and the Remonstrants (or was it Anti-Remonstrants?) / Arminians had on the Reformed Tradition. I also felt more and more that Luther was much more Catholic than any of the other Reformers. I don't know which one of Pelikan's Dogmatic histories to read next. I've done 3 and now am finishing 4, but I really don't care about the East/Orthodox (typical Catholic) and I don't know if his book on modern theology (Volume 5, 1700-present) includes any Catholic stuff, so I might get his 1st volume.

I bought and finished reading "Brideshead Revisited" by Evelyn Waugh. I really enjoyed it. It had been so long since I read fiction that it was refreshing. The way he writes characters and how realistic everything seems is almost eerie. Granted it wasn't the most exciting book in the world, but I still heartily enjoyed it. There were alot of great Catholic moments that made it a bit of an indulgence into my fantasy world: English Catholicism from 1850-1950 (the only area of modern history I would consider doing history graduate work in).

Finally, I'm almost finished reading "A Ray of Darkness" by Rowan Williams (written before he was Archbishop of Canterbury). As I was reading them I remarked that it was the weirdest author I've ever read in that within the same paragraph I could highlight an idea I completely agreed with, and another idea I absolutely hated. Abp. Williams had that Anglican/Anglo-Catholic style I love where they teach the Catholic and Protestant doctrines and then show how both of them are in a way wrong and then propose some new idea or middle ground. His theology is so strange, because he cites almost exclusively Roman Catholic authors (Hans Urs Von Balthasar for example), and pre-reformation (Catholic?) mystics like St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Avila. He seems to have no Protestant thinkers outside John Donne (a former Catholic) that influence his theology (obviously there are some, but he never cites them). His deeply personal and poetic style has taught me alot about homiletics (even just by reading), and I have much more respect for him. Some sermons in the collection were great and I've highlighted almost all of them, and others are just empty modernism and mockery towards any Christian claiming to have absolute truth. All in all I've enjoyed it though, and I think I'll continue to read him.

I'd recommend all these books.

1 comment:

  1. Pelikan's Volume 2 was the best volume in my mind. The Greeks were definitely theologically more advanced than the Latin Church up to the Middle Ages. Tolle Lege!