Been reading and writing an essay review on the first two volumes of Veli-Matti Karkkainen's Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World. This is a major theological project by one of the leading Ecumenical theologians writing in the West today. He trained as an Ecumenical theologian, has taught on three continents and has a passionate interest in bringing the Christian faith into constructive conversation with the other living faiths (Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism); but he wants to do so by being critically and appreciatively faithful to the range and depth of the Christian tradition.
Not everyone who reads this blog will want to invest the time and energy reading these volumes as they become available. But you can get a good sense of what he is about, and the kind of thinker he is by watching an interview he gave at the launch of the first volume, Christ and Reconciliation. You can find the interview here.
Yesterday I spent some time looking through a bookcase of books that used to belong to a friend. I had the pick of them, but the real interest was simply handling books that had been shapers of thought, inspirations for life, companions of comfort. Over 7 or more decades, books that have been bought, ead and reread. Some of them now taped together; others with what the booksellers call foxing, spine split, some highlighting or underlining. The whole lot together wouldn't make much money. But then riches afren;t just about money.
Some of the enduring values and gifts evade the commerical tyrranny of the barcode. I only took four. A lot of them I haven't read and won't. Some of them meant more to my friend than to me - it's like that with books and friendship. I don;t have to like what he liked, nor pretend it does for me what it clearly accomplished in his own inner life. There were two or three though that brought memories of ding dong discussions over a lunch table with a crusty loaf, a pot of soup, and a bowl of fruit. Two of the ones I brought away I'll give to someone else.
The two I'll keep are because they say much for my friend's theology, faith and way of thinking and living. One is a biography of Studdert Kennedy, Woodbine Willie, whose theology was generous, passionately questioning of God in the face of suffering, and utterly grounded in Calvary and the Cross as the place where earthly suffering and Divine mercy comingled in the sacrifice of Christ. The other is The Path to Perfection, W E Sangster's volume on John Wesley's doctrine of Christian perfection. I've read it before, it's now a book of past generations, eclipsed by so much high standard contemporary Wesleyan scholarship which shows no signs of abating. But Sangster was a saintly man, a deep lover of Jesus, and so was my friend. "Love is the key to holiness" says Sangster - and my frienc's life underlined that sentence.
And then there was this wee red booklet I picked up for £1 at Drum Castle Garden, in the wee shed where used books are there with an honesty box.
I merely mention this. I'll write another post later on the fascinating hopes and optimism of a conference 60 years ago. They say times have changed - but reading this, the aspirations and proposals remain vaslid, and largely unfulfilled. More on this later.