Radical Preaching

Can preaching again have something to say?
This blog marks the attempt to bring the theological vision of Radical Orthodoxy into the worship and preaching of the local church.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Reading Radical Orthodoxy

In an earlier post, David asked for reading recommendations for Radical Orthodoxy. I thought I would provide sort of a rough reading list, and then others could contribute to fill in the gaps (As I am writing this, I see that Eric has already offered up an excellent list in the comments section). I will begin with introductory books/articles, and then offer up other books. I have read about ten of the RO series, so this is hardly complete. I know there are some excellent books that I have not gotten to. I will list them below, also.

Introduction to Radical Orthodoxy
1) James K. A. Smith, Introducing Radical Orthodoxy
I think Smith does a fantastic job providing an overview and introduction to RO. I confess that I skimmed the sections about the Dutch Reformed church.

2) John Milbank, "Postmodern Critical Augustinianism: A Short Summa..."
Modern Theology, 7:3 (April 1991), 225-237. This article is also contained in Graham Ward's, The Postmodern God. In this book, Catherine Pickstock also has a very good article about how modern liturgical reforms (asyndeton) altered the way we understand God, worship, and faith.

In this relatively short article, Milbank provides an overview of his theological project. I find this to be a very helpful introduction.

3) John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, & Graham Ward. Radical Orthodoxy.
As Eric highlighted, Cavanaugh's chapter, "The City: Beyond Secular Parodies," is outstanding. Iwould also read the introduction, chapter 1 by Milbank, chapter 5 by Michael Hanby, Chapter 8 by Graham Ward, and Chapter 12 by Catherine Pickstock.

After the Introduction
John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory
This is Milbank's extraordinary critique of secular reason. It is unbelievable in its scope. Hauerwas declared that in this one book Milbank was able to "gore everyone's ox." This one will take some time to read, but he absolutely takes apart secular reason. The last chapter calls for a Trinitarian ontology and reveals how he is seeking to reappropriate Augustine.

Catherine Pickstock, After Writing: The Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy
This book supposedly won Dr. Pickstock an audience with Pope Benedict XVI when he was a Cardinal. In this book, she first takes on Derrida's reading of Plato, and then discusses how the Medieval liturgy is the culmination of philosophy, language, and art. This book is not an easy read, but a very fruitful one. I am still working my way through this one, but I love what she is doing.

John Milbank, The Word Made Strange
In the last chapter of Theology and Social Theory, Milbank begins his constructive theological project. In this book, he begins to expand on his Christology, pneumatology, and ecclesiology. There are some fantastic essays in this book. As I wrestle with this book more, I like it much more than on the first reading.

John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, Truth in Aquinas
I must confess that I have only skimmed this book. My mentor and friend who is a church history professor at Trevecca believes that they read Aquinas correctly and dangerously so. This is by far probably the most controversial of the RO series since Thomists of all stripes have attacked it. I noticed this topic coming up quite frequently on your blog, and so I bumped it up the list. This is definitely an RO reading of Thomas. I would be interested in your thoughts.

Dan Bell, Liberation Theology after the End of History
This book is an excellent analysis of the Catholic liberation theology movement in Latin America. Bell sees that liberation theology lacked an ecclesiology capable of resisting capitalism. He provides an excellent analysis of capitalism, as well, focusing on how capitalism disciplines our desire making us into docile subjects. This is an outstanding work.

Conor Cunningham, Genealogy of Nihilism
Like Eric, I find this book to be profound. I am still working my way through it, but I see Cunningham addressing some of the frequent criticisms made of Milbank's work. I find his reading of nihilism to be fascinating.

Michael Hanby, Augustine and Modernity
I am shocked that this book does not get more attention. I read this book deeply as I read it in a directed reading I was taking on Augustine, and again in a class I took on Radical Orthodoxy. He takes apart the traditional modern claim that Augustine stands in direct line between Plato and Descartes in terms of the creation of the autonomous self. He also works through Augustine's Trinitarian theology and soteriology. Hanby articulates the idea of a doxological selfhood. This is a RO reading of Augustine.

Related to RO
William Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist
This is not in the RO series, but Cavanaugh has written an exceptional essay mentioned above. This book, though, provides an ecclesial example of how the core elements of RO look on the ground in resistance to the Pinochet regime. Words cannot express how excellent I find this book to be.

Stephen Long, The Goodness of God
Eric recommended Long's Divine Economy, which is published in the RO series. That is also an excellent book. However, this is my absolute favorite book of Long's (though I haven't read his most recent which I hear is also quite good).

Bell, Long and Cavanaugh are students of Hauerwas, to whom I am deeply indebted to for forming me as a Christian and a pastor. I confess that I am more Hauerwasian than RO, and that bias is probably represented in this list.

Critiques of RO
David Toole, Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo
I checked this book out on interlibrary loan, so I only had it for two weeks. It attempts to critique RO from the perspective of John Howard Yoder. Toole claims that ultimately Milbank is unable to outnarrate nihilism, because he lack an apocalyptic understanding of the world. I wish I had more time with this book because I think he raises some serious issues that RO has yet to address with regards to pacifism.

I hope this helps. There are several other books in the series as well as other related books that are coming out. I believe this is a good start.

Grace and Peace,


Blogger Scott said...

After reading the comments below, I would also highly recommend David Bentley Hart's book, The Beauty of the Infinite.

Chris, have you read Hemming's critique? I have heard some of the comments, but I have not read it.

Also, I am hoping to read Tracey Rowland's book, Culture and the Thomist Tradition soon.

October 28, 2005 5:28 PM  
Blogger Kevin D. Johnson said...

I really enjoyed Catherine Pickstock's works that you mention above (especially Truth in Aquinas) and I am looking forward to delving into James K.A. Smith's books shortly.

Thought-provoking and important to say the least.

>>>Kevin D. Johnson

October 28, 2005 8:05 PM  
Blogger David said...

Slowly, but surely I am becoming a "Hauerwasian" myself.

Hauerwas, a Protestant: “I Would Like to Have Said Those Things Myself”

Interviews to Javier Martínez and Stanley Hauerwas

If you had a suggested reading list for Hauerwas, what would it be?

October 28, 2005 10:29 PM  
Blogger Scott said...


I will work on that list for Monday, hopefully. Hopefully some others will also.

Grace and Peace,

October 29, 2005 8:22 AM  
Blogger Chris Burgwald said...

Scott, I've read most of the essays in Hemming's book, and I've found most of them to be very helpful.

October 30, 2005 8:41 PM  
Blogger Eric Lee said...

What Hemming book?



October 31, 2005 10:36 AM  
Blogger Chris Burgwald said...

Eric: Radical Orthodoxy? A Catholic Enquiry, edited by Laurence Paul Hemming.

October 31, 2005 2:29 PM  
Blogger Chris Burgwald said...

Scott, re: Truth in Aquinas, its thesis is -- for me -- the most provocative proposal of RO. I'm with MacIntyre and his criticisms of a simple and mere universal human reason, but RO pushes the envelop a bit for me... I wonder if one would be able to accept its thesis as well as that found in, for instance, JPII's Fides et Ratio. In fact, I'm wondering if the RO position on this is in opposition not simply to Thomas, but to Catholic teaching in general.

NB: I haven't read TA itself; my uneasiness is based almost solely on Smith's presentation of the issue in chapter five of his intro to RO. I'm wondering how much of this is his own take.

Scott, you mentioned that your friend and mentor think M&P's reading of Thomas is accurate; I'm curious what his thoughts on Fides et Ratio are... any idea?

November 04, 2005 8:27 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I think Smith raises some very good questions. Milbank initially did not draw upon Aquinas, favoring Augustine instead. With Truth in Aquinas, they read Augustine through Aquinas.

Again, my read of Truth in Aquinas is cursory to say the best, so I do not feel comfortable saying very much. I wonder if the way to go is to work through parts of the argument in separate posts. I will try to pose some parts from Milbank and Pickstock's argument, and then we could hash out the ramifications.

I do know that Frederick Bauerschmidt wrote an article where he asks whether in attempting to make the Word strange, MIolbank has instead succeeded in making the Word speculative.

Initially, I think I agree with M & P that ontologically speaking, Aquinas would be more at home in Augustine's world that that of modernity. It seems to me that there need be no reason to assume a difference in kind between nature and grace. But I am a novice with regards to Thomism.

I hope this helps. I will try to start a post next week specifically on this topic.

Grace and Peace,

November 04, 2005 12:20 PM  
Blogger The Catholic Atheist said...

Looks like a good list.
Here are some updates (if anyone even looks at this post anymore).

D. Stephen Long's "The Divine Economy" this is an excellent book that is not a typical 'third way' theological economy.

Also Long is publishing two more books that should also be sought out. One reason he is so useful is that he is much more accessible than other RO writers such as Cunningham and Milbank.

I also suggest James K. A. Smith's, "Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?"

September 16, 2007 8:33 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home