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

suggested reading

I'm relatively new to R.O. therefore I'm asking for suggestions on a reading list. I see that James K.A. Smith has developed a good bibliography, which needs to be updated. If you had to choose the first 3-10 books to read in regards to R.O., which ones would they be? Which books are the most important? The books that you suggest can either be from the R.O. Series or other books by the scholars of this camp. Thanks ahead of time for doing this for me.


Blogger Eric Lee said...


A few of reservations about my tentative list: I am nearly not as read in this series as, say, Pastor John who has read almost everything (he's read Milbank's magnum opus nearly 6 times, though!). So, what I have listed below is a short list based on my own experience in the RO texts thus far, which do happen to include some that I haven't yet read.

Things to keep in mind: they spend a lot of time talking about ontology, so being familiar with terms like "onto-theology" and "univocity of being" are essential. From the looks of the posts on your la nouvelle théologie blog, I doubt you'll have any problems there. I'm rather new to this material myself (especially talking about ontology), so this is just a smidge of what I've found in my own journey during the last five months.

1. Speaking of Jamie Smith, I would probably recommend his Introducing Radical Orthodoxy as a first book. He does an excellent job mapping out the sensibility and throws in a few quality things as well: a Reformed voice in RO, some critiques of some misreadings of Plato, and some responses to critiques of RO.

2. Although not all the essays are helpful, the RO "reader" called Radical Orthodoxy: a new theology does contain some good ones (William Cavanaugh's probably being the best, and considering the views you've expressed on your blog, you'd be very, very much in tune with his thesis).

3. Conor Cunningham's Genealogy of Nihilism is probably the most important book I read this year. Not only does he offer a near-comprehensive genealogy, but the last half book about "the difference of theology" I found to be very beautifully written. (disclosure: I probably find this book more important than some of the others here because of my own personal struggle with the demon of nihilism in my own life).

4. At some point, you'll want to read John Milbank's Theology & Social Theory. It's an important work, but a very, very challenging and swampy read. He name-drops like crazy, and doesn't do a whole lot of engaging in giving the reader the benefit of the doubt concerning the primary texts he's referencing. Pastor John is (W)right though: he writes good introductions and good conclusions to his chapters. Also, the last two chapters where he engages in theological conversation with Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue and Augustine's The City of God are quite excellent. Just about all of my blog posts on Milbank's TST last month are from these last sections.

5. Daniel Bell's Liberation Theology at the End of History: The Refusal to Cease Suffering is one I haven't read yet, but I've heard it's one of the best in the series, and may be one you might actually want to bump up in your list.

6. D. Stephen Long's The Divine Economy: Theology and the Market (another one I haven't read yet) may be one you might have more of a vested interest in considering your conversations with Christopher Blosser on your blog. Long critiques a lot of Novakian thought there.

Two books that you've already linked to on your blog that aren't officially labeled "Radical Orthodoxy" but very much fit with the same sensibility are:

7. Torture and Eucharist, by William T. Cavanaugh

8. idem, Theopolitical Imagination.

A book to watch out for: Jamie Smith's upcoming Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church. I'm not sure how much the "Emergent" conversation appears on the Roman Catholic radar, but this book seeks to provide a helpful critique for those who align themselves with that (like Scott Langford I am more of a spectator than player).

I'm sure some others might have some better recommendations, especially if they've read some of the books above that I haven't.

Hope this helps a bit.



October 28, 2005 1:22 PM  
Blogger David said...

This is great Eric, thanks!

I wonder what Scott, Pastor John and others think?

October 28, 2005 2:26 PM  
Blogger Eric Lee said...

You're welcome! I'll give Pastor John a nudge.



October 28, 2005 2:28 PM  
Blogger Chris Burgwald said...

Eric's more well-read in RO than I am, so I'd defer to his list (it includes most of mine...), while making one addition: Radical Orthodoxy? A Catholic Enquiry edited by Laurence Paul Hemming was helpful to me in many ways.

As you know, David, I love Tracey Rowland's book in the series, but I don't think it's as good for understanding where RO is coming from and going... that's simply not it's intention, and she doesn't touch on it as much as some of the others in the series do.

My $.02.

October 28, 2005 2:34 PM  
Blogger Eric Lee said...

By the way, the 4 books that Pastor John assigned in his Radical Orthodoxy class earlier this summer are listed on the right column on his blog. The Hart book isn't officially RO, but he says a lot of the same stuff. Also, Milbank put a very nice blurb in praise of Hart on the back of that book.

John, any other suggestions? :)



October 28, 2005 5:16 PM  
Blogger David said...


Could you confirm the titles/authors of the four books that you mention above? I see his book, Asad's, Yoder's & Lodahl's. There is no book by Hart.

October 29, 2005 7:39 AM  
Blogger Chris Burgwald said...

David, it's the four books that are under "Current Reading Assignment": Smith's, Milbank's, Cunningham's, and Hart's. They're above Asad's and below Wright's. Maybe it's your browser.

October 29, 2005 9:53 AM  
Blogger David said...

I can't see any of the above books either at home or work. Could you give me the titles? For example, which books of Smith & Milbank? In regards to Conor Cunningham's book, it's the Genealogy of Nihilism correct? I also need the full name of Hart and his book as well. Thanks.

October 30, 2005 9:12 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

They are:

John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory

Conor Cunningham, Genealogy of Nihilism

David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite

James K.A. Smith, Introducing Radical Orthodoxy

October 31, 2005 5:37 AM  
Blogger Eric Lee said...


Sorry I couldn't respond earlier -- I was gone all weekend with friends.

Scott's post above with the titles is correct.



October 31, 2005 10:31 AM  

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