Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Dr. Timothy Sedgwick's book What Does It Mean to be Holy Whole? is quite brilliant. One senses that it is in many ways a summary of so many Sedgwick themes. Starting with the concept of the holy, Tim locates the idea within the context of the whole - the stream of consciousness, where memory is central. Then, in conversation with the work of Charles Taylor, the secular experience, where the holy often appears inaccessible and opaque, is explored. In response, the distinctively Christian sense of the holy - grounded in the witness of Scripture and the memory of Christ - is developed. An invitation is issued to transcend the limiting of the holy to Sunday (the limitation being part of the secular challenge). Then Tim takes us through sets of practices, with their ethical implications, that create persons who are holy and who are truly connecting the holy to the rest of their lives.

As I put down the book, it was in many ways a riveting gallop. It was an argument and a survey. It was vast in its scope and yet just 44 pages (excluding the very helpful bibliography). It was profound and life-changing. The core duty of allowing the experience of God to transform our life is encapsulated in this remarkable book.

This is a very fine book. It is the type of book that takes years to write. By this, I mean that although the book did not take long to write (after all, it is just 44 pages), it takes decades of reading. Otto, Augustine, Bellah, and Taylor are all clearly present. It is book where one can see that these great texts have been digested and lived with. If you want a sense of where the mature Tim is in his thought, then this is the book to read. It really is, to conclude where I started, quite brilliant.

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President
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