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Publisher: Routledge , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title Cities of God traces urban culture of north America and Western Europe during the s, to ask how theology can respond to the postmodern city. The east door will be opened at Easter, for instance, and the city comes in then through that door in the medieval church.
- Graham Ward (theologian);
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That positioning is quite important to me because it means that in many ways theologians straddle two worlds: the ecclesial world and that which situates the ecclesial world, the secular world. This last world is secular in the sense that it is distinct from the spiritual realm, though not autonomous. That positioning of the theologian is really a reflection of where I am personally. Now, to connect this to education, I work at a state university.
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I work in a senior administrative role in the university at the moment. I will return to the department of religion and theology in another three years. This department is not a seminary. Because what I am not here to do is to train them for the church, and I am not there to convert them. So my most important pedagogical function as a theologian is apologetic—it is explaining and describing the world from the Christian perspective.
TOJ : This idea of an engaged systematic theology—is that a struggle in the modern university system where the disciplines are fragmented, divided, and dis integrated? GW : Currently at my institution, I am head—which is a bit like a dean—of a school of arts, histories, and culture, where there are eight subject areas including English, drama, history, classics, art history, archeology, music, and religions and theology.
So in my own institution, those disciplinary boundaries are blurred, and in fact, some of the most important kind of work that I do is for English, where I teach critical theory. The institutional setup allows me to move across disciplinary boundaries quite fluidly. In institutions where disciplines were isolated from each other, theology was frequently regarded with hostility in certain kinds of secular environments in the university.
So I think that both in the institution that I work for and the new cultural climate, call it postsecularity if you like, disciplinary boundaries are not so rigid, and I am able to develop an engaged systematic theology. I can see that in certain other institutions theologians might still have problems with other disciplines and the way they patrol their boundaries. When I visit such schools, I find students interested in film, in contemporary literature, in gender studies, in legal studies, et cetera.
So I hope institutional barriers do not prevent them from talking to other people across the university. It does seem to me to put an unnecessary obstacle between people. At a recent colloquium at Yale, I was both surprised and delighted that I was invited to speak about monotheism in a Centre for Gay and Lesbian Studies.
There was only one person there from the divinity school. TOJ : So in a certain sense you see the role of a theologian as being able to integrate those disciplines—. There are a number of interests that can integrate these disciplines, for example gender studies, ethics, religious studies, and more broadly, cultural theory. There are many fields of study that speak to and speak across different disciplines. I was myself an undergraduate in English studies and French. At that time, I was introduced to critical and cultural theory. Then I trained in theology later.
Theology is radically interdisciplinary, and it was so even before interdisciplinarity became trendy. It was always enmeshed in these different disciplines. I find that theology can in fact cross waters, cross divides, quite easily.
TOJ : In Cities of God you talk about the importance of reading the signs in our contemporary culture. It sounds like you envisage theology playing a key role in that process because of its ability to speak to disciplines. GW : It is one of the most astonishing transformations that has happened that theology can now contribute to other disciplines. They are describing the way in which religion is now very much in the public sphere. But today the culture that we are living in is investing heavily in theological and religious ideas, symbols, myths.
I sit on a research panel for the British Government, and I recently had to evaluate a proposal that came forward for research funding on resurrection and the afterlife in contemporary film. Someone is realizing how much that is happening culturally is shot through with religion. Or take the last part of the Bourne Identity series. Culture is playing with books, themes, and symbols that are part of a Western Christian heritage. Just as they are playing with themes and symbols from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. How are you using this?
Do you understand where it comes from and what the rest of this is about? So I think we have a fundamental role, a really important role now. In part it is a catechetical role because so many people have been unchurched through the kind of secularization that came in after the Second World War. In the recent past, the churching or catechizing was being done by evangelicalism, or what we call here, alpha groups.
Now things are changing. There is a huge, huge resurgence of interest in the religious, and I think theologians, particularly theologians that are culturally engaged, that are involved in cultural hermeneutics, can actually provide a lot of interesting material here for people to connect with.
GW : Right. He loves it! Badiou would be another person doing this, and Giorgio Agamben, the Italian philosopher, would be a third. This dematerializes money considerably. With that dematerialization, the alienation between capital and the value of the goods it can buy vastly increases. Accumulation becomes an end in itself—constant wealth creation. But that late capitalism has actually been with us for, well, since the late seventies.
Cities of God (Routledge Radical Orthodoxy)
More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Cities of God , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Apr 02, Micah Enns-Dyck rated it it was amazing. A brilliant engagement with ancient, modern, and postmodern conceptions of the city. Ward's overarching argument is compelling and well supported.
Phenomenal book, and it is well worth the read for those who are already semi-familiar with key theological and philosophical themes and figures. If new to these topics, this book may be too much as it is densely packed with references to important ideas and thinkers. Apr 08, Dwight Davis rated it really liked it. This is a book with diminishing returns.
The Academy, the Polis, and the Resurgence of Religion: An Interview with Graham Ward
Parts 1 and 2 were incredible, worthy of five stars with a few caveats. Part 3, however, crashed and seemed to lose focus. The last chapter in particular on cyberspace was outdated and, even for , fairly naive about the nature of computers and the Internet. The positives: the arguments for an analogical worldview, the critiques of social atomism, the articulation of the necessity for community, the chapter on sexuality, the Eucharistic theology relate This is a book with diminishing returns.
The positives: the arguments for an analogical worldview, the critiques of social atomism, the articulation of the necessity for community, the chapter on sexuality, the Eucharistic theology related through the dispersion of Christ's body, the chapter on the church as a community of erotic desire.
Graham Ward: Cities of God | Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift
Negatives: I feel like this is a pretty colonialistic book. Ward argues against colonizing bodies or geography, but uses the language of colonialism as what Christ does to the believer. I think this is unhelpful and sloppy. Theology should be striving to decolonialize itself, not reinscribe colonialism in a different key. The chapter on cyberspace is a total wash 15 years later. The ideas of a collective selfhood are necessary, but as articulated here would lead to a homogeneity. There definitely needs to be more discussion in regards to retaining difference within the collective person of Christ.
There's also a lack of precision, but this is more symptomatic of postmodern theology in general and radical orthodoxy in particular.
These critiques aside, and some of them are substantial, albeit not fully articulated because I'm typing on my phone, Cities of God is a great work of constructive theology. Part 2 especially is worth reading and is vitally important.
Jan 27, Michael rated it liked it. On some pages, this book shines, but for the most part it is like a list of names: Hegel, Derrida, Spinoza, de Certeau, Barth, Butler, etc. This book is a typically postmodern one in that it feels like mostly rambling with very little direction or purpose, one page is about Las Vegas the next is about Wim Wenders films the next is about Hobbes on the state. Graham Ward would probably like such a 'virtual' reality and many readers will find this stimulating. It is a book made for those with ADD.