Francis of Assisi: Performing the Gospel Life

Francis of Assisi: Performing the Gospel Life

Francis of Assisi: Performing the Gospel Life

Francis of Assisi: Performing the Gospel Life

Synopsis

Francis of Assisi is counted among the most important personalities of history. The life and ideals of this humble, semiliterate medieval friar have had a shaping influence on the Christian church that has spilled over into Western culture at large. This biography by Lawrence Cunningham looks anew at Francis's life and legacy, seeking to counter efforts to romanticize him yet without diminishing his deep piety or abiding significance.Pursuing a realistic view of the saint, Cunningham argues against common stereotypes that sentimentalize Francis as a "blesser of animals," as a "church rebel," or as a precursor of the "spirituality" movement. According to Cunningham, really seeing Francis requires the lens of theology rather than the lens of quaint spirituality so often used. Francis was a devotedly orthodox Catholic whose life must be understood as a response to reforming elements abroad in the church of his day. Francis's originality derived from his success in articulating the "ideal gospel life": his message and actions were a kind of "acting out" of the scriptures.Imbued with peerless scholarship, this book is also charmingly written. Cunningham is a master storyteller as well as a brilliant biographer -- qualities that his Francis of Assisi fully displays. It will at once inform and delight anyone interested in the fascinating life of Francis or his impact on church history.

Excerpt

A special issue of Time magazine in 1992 proposed a list of the ten most important personalities of the previous thousand years in anticipation of the celebration of the new millennium. In that distinguished list there were musicians (Mozart), inventors (Gutenberg), statesmen (Jefferson), explorers (Columbus), artists (Michelangelo), writers (Shakespeare), scientists (Galileo and Einstein), as well as two religious figures: Martin Luther and Saint Francis of Assisi. Such lists are a dime a dozen, showing up every time there is some momentous calendar event, and practically everyone would have amended Time’s list in one way or another. What is curious, however, is the inclusion of Francis. What is it about this humble, semiliterate, medieval figure that should merit inclusion in such a litany of classic names?

This little meditative book will not attempt to answer the question just posed, although along the way it will give some indications that might help someone else to frame an answer. There are lines of inspiration rooted in the life and practices of Saint Francis that, in fact, had a shaping influence on the subsequent history of Christianity, an influence that spilled over into the larger shaping of Western culture.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.