Sunday, April 14, 2024

Review: Passions of the Soul

Passions of the Soul Passions of the Soul by Rowan Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I ran into this book on Google Play and, since it is a subject about which I'm interested (the link to early Christian and, here, monastic ideas around prayer and the self) and it is, after all, by Rowan Williams, I couldn't resist buying it. It is a superb book and definitely worth reading for those who are interested in prayer in general.

The book focuses on the Desert Fathers tradition and, especially, the eight bad thoughts (logismoi) which would eventually form the basis of the seven deadly sins in Western moral theology. Williams makes interesting links between these thoughts and the Beatitudes as ways to heal them. The discussions are helpful and, as one expects, erudite. I'm moderately familiar with the literature, so it made sense to me, although I worry that someone less familiar might feel overwhelmed by the strangeness of it all. But that's a risk when approaching the Christian mystical tradition in general, which Williams rightly points out in his last chapter.

This is a really worthwhile book and will reward the effort to read it. It has that Rowan William's effect on me, though, that, as I finish it, I usually feel like I'm going to have to go back at some point and re-read it to see if I actually did understand it. It is complex and interesting, so re-reading just seems to make sense.

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