Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience

Article excerpt

God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience. By David Brown. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. 448 pp. $35.00 (paper).

David Brown, Van Mildert Professor of Divinity at the University of Durham, has posed another wonderful challenge to stretch us beyond the comfort zone of sacramental theology. Building on the approach of his two earlier works, Tradition and Imagination and Discipleship and Imagination, which Brown himself describes in God and Enchantment of Place as widening "the perspective of theology by insisting that greater attention should be given to the history of the Church as a focus of divine revelation" (p. 1), he presents to us a twofold challenge: to examine both our Christian tradition, taking multiple elements seriously for what they can contribute to society at large, while at the same time insisting that we recognize that Christianity does not own the revelation of God. Sacramentality is both key to Christian understanding of divine revelation and human experience and much broader than Christian sacraments or specifically church actions. We are reminded that "a God active outside the control of the Church needs to be acknowledged, and the implications heeded" (p. 2).

The present work, God and Enchantment of Place, is the first of a two-volume work, both of which are overviewed in chapter 1. Moving through seven chapters, the reader is asked to ponder the negative ramifications of the church withdrawing "from theological engagement with large areas of human experience that were once religion's concern" (p. 5) at the same time that we are pulled to look beyond the expected, to engage "in a form of perception that has largely been lost in our utilitarian age, experiencing the natural world and human imitations of it not just as means to some further end but as themselves the vehicle that makes possible an encounter with God, discovering an enchantment, an absorption that like worship requires no further justification" (p. …

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