God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience

By David Brown | Go to book overview
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PREFACE

This work and its sequel have been a long time in gestation. In 1993 to mark the nine hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the Norman cathedral at Durham, Ann Loades and I organized a series of sixteen public lectures and fourteen seminars on the theme of sacramental spirituality, with contributions not only from theologians of the stature of Wolfhart Pannenberg, Stephen Sykes, Rowan Williams, and Nicholas Wolterstorff but also from the literary critic George Steiner, the composer John Tavener, and the then Astronomer Royal, Arnold Wolfendale. Thereafter we taught a joint graduate course on 'Reconceiving the sacramental', in which we experimented with various ways of approaching the subject. Inevitably there were some wrong moves, and we had at times to crave the patience of the participants. But our thoughts were honed in this way, as our respective skills and interests mutually complemented one another. It was, for instance, Ann who first encouraged me towards noting the relevance of ballet and dance, Ann who first alerted me to the need for sacramental penance and reconciliation to take account of the fact that 'guilt' is sometimes felt most profoundly not by the guilty party but by the innocent, an issue explored at length in her Feminist Theology: Voices from the Past (Oxford: Polity, 2001), 140-65. At one time it looked as though we might produce a joint work, but in the end this proved impossible; different writing styles, a different, though overlapping, range of interests, and Ann's impending retirement all played their part. None the less, it is true that without her help and encouragement this book would never have been written. She was unstintingly generous in devoting time to reading and commenting on whatever I wrote, energetic in directing me to new reading and potential new avenues of thought, and always encouraging when I seemed weighed down by the proposed range of the project. That is why this book is dedicated to her.

Others, however, have also made important contributions. Quite a number of papers and notes were already in existence by

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