The 20th century’s most influential theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, once called for a “kneeling theology.” A kneeling theology is one that integrates theological reflection with spirituality.
According to von Balthasar the Church Fathers practiced such a theology; it ought to be theology’s natural environment.
The kneeling theology was taken for granted in Western Christendom until the scholastic period when, starting with Abelard, the practice of writing disputations that concentrated upon answering mostly abstract questions divorced theology from the spiritual life.
Spiritual theology became its own separate domain apart from answering questions about doctrinal matters. You see this beginning in the 14th century with the Rhineland mystics such as Henry Suso and Johannes Tauler. By the 16th and 17th centuries the divorce is almost complete as Michel de Certeau argues in his Mystic Fable (volume 2 is coming soon).
Angelico Press was founded fairly recently, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming a kneeling theology powerhouse very quickly.
As you can see from what I consider ten of their best books below: Healing the rift between theology and spirituality seems to be especially dear to them. Their books also do much toward healing the ruptures between East and West Christianity, and between the Greek and Christian heritages.
I only hope they can keep up the very strong presence they have managed to create.
It won’t be easy to follow up on titles like these:
Asked about the dialogue between Asian and Christian mysticisms, Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote: “The dialogue is possible. The question is: ‘does selflessness mean emptiness, or (trinitarian) love.'” Word and Silence is an ascent to the fullness of the Christian vision, from the depths of natural and Christian wisdom and under the guidance of this great master of contemplative theology of our time. It offers an overview of the human condition, and then broadens to explore the fullness of God’s revelation, which overflows the deepest longings of the human heart, fully embracing the human as human, and leading it into the heart of God.
In his first Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis wrote: “We need to recover a contemplative spirit.” The Meaning of Blue is about just such a recovery. Blue is the color of heaven, of purity and truth. Its rarity in naturally occurring substances on earth and its abundance shining in the sky speak of the same thing: a celestial light to which our culture is increasingly blind. With examples drawn from both the inspired ambiguity of poetry and the depths of the Bible, Fr. Luke Bell shows the reader a way of knowing creation and language as manifesting divine truth, and then leads further–into the mystical tradition of direct contemplation of God.
In The Submerged Reality: Sophiology and the Turn to a Poetic Metaphysics, Michael Martin challenges us to reimagine theology, philosophy, and poetics through the lens of sophiology. Sophiology, as this book shows, is not a rogue theology, but a way of perceiving that which shines through the cosmos: a way that can return metaphysics to postmodern thought and facilitate a (re)union of religion, science, and art.
Iamblichus was a seminal Platonic philosopher whose views on the soul and the importance of ritual profoundly influenced subsequent thinkers such as Proclus, Damascius, and Dionysius the Areopagite. Iamblichus’s vision of a hierarchical cosmos united by divine ritual became the dominant worldview for the entire medieval world, and played an important role in the Renaissance Platonism of Marsilio Ficino. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that he expected a reading of Iamblichus to cause a “revival in the churches.” Yet, until recently, modern scholars have dismissed him, seeing theurgy as ritual magic or an attempt to manipulate the gods. Shaw, however, shows that theurgy was a subtle and intellectually sophisticated attempt to apply Platonic and Pythagorean teachings to the full expression of human existence in the material world. This new edition includes a foreword by John Milbank and Aaron Riches showing the Christian sacramental implications of Iamblichean theurgy, and a new preface from the author.
IN JOHN PAUL II’S Theology of the Body, the sexed human body speaks a language revealing God’s creative design and heralding humanity’s ultimate goal in the nuptial union of Christ and the Church. In a similar way, the Church, the body of Christ, anticipates her future nuptial union with Christ here and now through the “body language” of her public worship. Holy Eros combines insights from the great Pope’s theology of the body with traditional and contemporary liturgical studies, allowing each to shed light on the other. It shows how the various rituals of the Church, and the “shape” proper to the liturgical gathering, engage us as performative, physical enactments which actuate the spiritual and divine realities they signify, making heavenly marriage real on earth.
There is no peace without justice, but neither can there be justice without love. Far from being an impractical dream, Catholic social doctrine can transform the way we work, the way we govern, and the way we treat the natural world. What emerges from this sequel to the author’s The Radiance of Being is a vision of integration and wholeness, a society both divine and human, and a “humanism open to the absolute.”Sophia, God & A Short Tale About the Antichrist by Vladimir Solovyov
This volume contains several late works of Vladimir Solovyov, representing his final speculations about matters crucial to the destiny of humanity and of the world. As Solovyov’s life was coming to an end at the close of the 19th century, his thoughts were turned toward three things: the end of the world (the Antichrist), the beauty and wisdom of the world (Sophia), and the nature of God. A completely new translation of the famous “Short Tale About the Antichrist” is presented here, along with revised versions of “At the Dawn of Mist-Shrouded Youth,” “Three Meetings,” and “The Concept of God.”At the Crossroads of Science & Mysticism: On the Culturo-Historical Place and Premises of the Christian World‑Understanding by Pavel Florensky
The present volume represents the most substantial theological contribution in Pavel Florensky’s great multi-volume “anthropidicy,” At the Watersheds of Thought: The Elements of a Concrete Metaphysics. Florensky argues that his epoch (the early 20th century) bore witness to a spiritual shift in the direction of a revitalized Christian world-understanding. In modern times, the Renaissance world-understanding, which is anti-Christian in nature and whose treasure lies in man, had replaced the Medieval world-understanding, which is Christian in nature and whose treasure lies in God. But the rationalistic Renaissance culture was now coming to an end, to be replaced by a new Middle Ages, a coming period to be characterized by the fusion of science and mystical faith—an epoch of discontinuity, of abrupt leaps into reality rooted in the life of the spirit, destined to replace the former mechanistic world-view. This change, Florensky maintains, will touch on every aspect of life and every discipline of knowledge. A revitalized Christianity will emerge which will find its experiential validation both in mysticism and in scientific inquiry.
What has gone wrong with the grand American experiment in “ordered liberty”? The liberal’s answer is that America has failed to live up to its full promise of inclusiveness and equality—likely the result of corporate greed and white male ruling elites. The mainstream conservative or libertarian’s reply points to the Warren Court, the 1960’s, a denial of “states’ rights”, or a loss of Constitutional rectitude. Christopher Ferrara, in Liberty, the God That Failed, offers an entirely different answer. In a counter-narrative of unique power and scope, he unmasks the order promised as a sham; the liberty guaranteed, a chimera. In his telling, the false god of a new political order—Liberty—was born in thought long before America’s founding, and gained increasing devotion as it slowly amassed power during the first two centuries of the nation’s existence. Today it reveals its full might, as we bear the weight of its oppressive decrees, and experience the emptiness of the secular order it imposes upon us.
As millennials we stand accused–of aimlessness, entitlement, indifference, lack of gratitude–merely for existing under the wrong conditions, for illustrating simply by that fact the wrongness of those conditions. This book offers an apologia for an entire generation. It is not so much a solution to our problems as an orientation allowing us to face them. It provides a way of understanding ourselves, leading us to see what our increasingly economic mode of being has lopped off and discarded. We have inherited a deformed anthropology, an inane status quo, for which we have been told we ought to be thankful. We need to rediscover meaning in a world that has become a matter of indifference to us. It will take work, it won’t be easy, and it will have to start with our generation.
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