This book explores sacramental poetics through the lens of moderate realism in the thought and work of Anglican theologians Richard Hooker (c. 1554-1600) and George Herbert (1593-1648). It does this in relation to the Christian sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist and as a way of exploring the abundance of God. Brian Douglas begins in chapter 1 with a general discussion of a sacramental poetic and sacramentality in the Anglican tradition and proceeds to a more detailed examination of the writings of both Hooker (chapter 2) and Herbert (chapter 3). Each writer explores, in their own way, abundant life, found as participation in and relationship with Christ, and expressed as a sacramental poetic based on moderate realism. Douglas goes on in chapter 4 to explore the idea of conversation and dialogue as employed by Hooker and Herbert as part of a sacramental poetic. The book concludes in chapter 5 with a more general discussion on the abundance of God and living of the good and abundant life and some of the issues this involves in the modern world.
Brian Douglas is a research professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University, Canberra, Australia.
Chapter 1: Moderate Realism as a Sacramental Poetic
Chapter 2: Sacramental Poetics in Richard Hooker: Exploring the Abundance of God
Chapter 3: Sacramental Poetics in George Herbert: Exploring the Abundance of God
Chapter 4: Conversation and Dialogue in the Sacramental Poetics of Hooker and Herbert
Chapter 5: The Good and Abundant Life
Brian Douglas has written an extraordinarily illuminating study of sacramental poetics in the poet George Herbert and the theologian Richard Hooker, with sustained attention to the workings of language, figuration, participation, and divine presence. Such an insightful analysis makes a valuable contribution not only to readers of Herbert and Hooker but also to the discourse of sacramental poetics.
Brian Douglas offers an illuminating, scholarly, and critical study of a golden thread of Anglican theology and spirituality. He does this with creativity and precision, employing the sacramental poetics of two shapers of an Anglican ethos and way of being Christian (Richard Hooker and George Herbert). Douglas shows how a theology of divine abundance can continue to give life and hope in our uncertain and challenging times. An outstanding contribution to modern Anglican studies.
Beautifully written, erudite, and exact, this book advances the cause of a recovery of sacramental poetics, not only in Anglicanism but in the church more generally. The detailed treatment of the sacramental poetics of Richard Hooker and George Herbert is invaluable. Douglas succeeds in relating difficult theological and philosophical issues to the poetry of sacramental life. His book will enrich anyone who reads it.
This book should be read carefully; there is a lot in it. The argument moves along at a brisk pace illuminating so many aspects of contemporary Christian practice in church and in the public arena. It draws attention to the unbounded generosity of God as exemplified in Richard Hooker and George Herbert. Douglas shows how Hooker’s framework looks forward into the issues of modernity and the issues of our own generation trying to live as Christians after Christendom. This is not just historical analysis. It is visiting the past with a view to the present. This is a truly excellent book for our times.
Brian Douglas has significantly advanced the case for arguing that Anglican theology from the early seventeenth century onwards was able to renew an ecumenically Catholic vision of sacramental participation in God, through a specifically modern and novel attention to historical, verbal, and literary mediation. A highly recommended book.