Beloved Dust: Tides of the Spirit in the Christian Life
By Robert Davis Hughes, III
New York: Continuum, 2008
Review by Carl McColman
This is actually just a “teaser” review. I just got my copy of Beloved Dust yesterday, which means I’ve only given it a cursory glance: so I’m only going to do a brief mini-review of this book for now. But this book deserves a careful reading, so after I’ve read it, I’ll come back and write about it in greater depth. Let me offer a disclaimer: Bob Hughes was my spiritual director in the late 1980s, so I am a wee bit biased here. He teaches theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, and embodies the fullness of the splendor of Anglican spirituality, from its catholic sacramentality to its joyous optimism in the Holy Spirit. Here, in his first book, he is proposing a “reconstruction of spiritual theology” in today’s post-modern, post-triumphalist, post-Vatican II world, engaging honestly with the challenges posed by interreligious dialogue and with the exciting emergence of serious lay spirituality in our time, as evidenced by the popularity of the writings of Thomas Merton and Richard Foster, or the success of organizations like Shalem or Spiritual Directors International. In conversation with significant voices such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Simone Weil, Beloved Dust explores where the Holy Spirit may be taking us: using as its overarching metaphor the notion that we earthy humans are made of dust, washed over by the tides of the Spirit’s love, care and grace.
I’m excited about this book, and I suspect to do it justice I will need to read it slowly and reflectively. So it may be a while before I can post a more thorough review. Meanwhile, I suspect most of the readers of this blog will want to own and read this book thoroughly — so buy it now and read it alongside me.