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THIS BOOK IS IN NO SENSE an impartial work of history. Perfect detachment is impossible for even the soberest of historians, since the writing of history necessarily demands some sort of narrative of causes and effects, and is thus necessarily an act of interpretation, which by its nature can never be wholly free of prejudice. But I am not really a historian, in any event, and I do not even aspire to detachment. In what follows, my prejudices are transparent and unreserved, and my argument is in some respects willfully extreme (or so it might seem). I think it prudent to admit this from the outset, if only to avoid being accused later of having made some pretense of perfect objectivity or neutrality so as to lull the reader into a state of pliant credulity. What I have written is at most a "historical essay," at no point free of bias, and intended principally as an apologia for a particular understanding of the effect of Christianity upon the development of Western civilization.
Brilliant Scholar and Wordsmith David Bentley Hart turns his mind and imagination to narrative fiction in this volume, The Devil and Pierre Gernet, a thought provoking collection of four short stories and one novella. Anticipating questions about his shift in genre, Hart writes that "God is no more likely (and probably a good deal less likely) to be found in theology than in poetry and fiction. " These stories beguile and entrance the reader through Hart's engrossing, opulent writing style and the complex characters he evokes and explores. Often bedazzling, sometimes heartbreaking, and ultimately mesmerizing, Hart's wide-ranging stories are united by a common thread of haunting religious and philosophical questions about this life and the next. Here is fiction to fully engage both the mind and the heart. Book jacket.
As news reports of the horrific December 2004 tsunami in Asia reached the rest of the world, commentators were quick to seize upon the disaster as proof of either God's power or God's nonexistence, asking over and over, How could a good and loving God -- if such exists -- allow such suffering?
Despite the recent ferocious public debate about belief, the concept most central to the discussion--God--frequently remains vaguely and obscurely described. Are those engaged in these arguments even talking about the same thing? In a wide-ranging response to this confusion, esteemed scholar David Bentley Hart pursues a clarification of how the word "God" functions in the worlds great theistic faiths. Ranging broadly across Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Vedantic and Bhaktic Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, Hart explores how these great intellectual traditions treat humanitys knowledge of the divine mysteries. Constructing his argument around three principal metaphysical "moments"--being, consciousness, and bliss--the author demonstrates an essential continuity between our fundamental experience of reality and the ultimate reality to which that experience inevitably points. Thoroughly dismissing such blatant misconceptions as the deists concept of God, as well as the fundamentalist view of the Bible as an objective historical record, Hart provides a welcome antidote to simplistic manifestoes. In doing so, he plumbs the depths of humanitys experience of the world as powerful evidence for the reality of God and captures the beauty and poetry of traditional reflection upon the divine.
The story of Christianity is an immeasurably fascinating one. A faith that began in Roman occupied Palestine, as a small and fugitive faction within Judaism, grew, thrived and finally "conquered" the empire that had sought to exterminate it. Then, over many centuries and in many lands, it became the vital source from which new civilizations sprang. At times, its geographical range expanded mightily, at others contracted perilously. At times, the church proved heroically true to its deepest moral principles; at others, inexcusably traitorous to them. But, by the beginning of the 21st century, this faith that began in such fragility, and that became so powerful--even though its temporal power has now receded in its historic homelands--is the most widespread and diverse of all religions. Christianity is rapidly taking root in cultures very different from those in which it was born and in which it once flourished, and is assuming configurations that could not have been anticipated a century ago. In The Story of Christianity, the distinguished theologian David Bentley Hart provides a broad picture of Christian history. Presented in 50 short chapters--each focusing on a critical facet of Christian history or theology, and each amplified by timelines, quotations, and color images--his magisterial account does full justice to the range of Christian tradition, belief and practice--Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Evangelical, Coptic, Chaldean, Ethiopian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Malankaran, to name but a few of the many possibilities. From the persecutions of the early church to the papal-imperial conflicts of the Middle Ages, from the religious wars of 16th and 17th-century Europe to the challenges of science and secularism in the modern era, and from the ancient Christian communities of Africa and Asia to the "house churches" of contemporary China, The Story of Christianity triumphantly captures the heterogeneous richness of Christian history.
Includes timelines, display quotations, and profiles of the key personalities who shaped the course of the history of the Christian faith.
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