Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Andrew Shanks

A Friend writes:

As I have been sorting through things, I found an old email note (from 2002) where I was lamenting all the ways and places I have hoped that the Church might be the Church--and each time "I was wrong". Part of that was reference to a Yorkshire priest, Andrew Shanks, in an essay in CrossCurrents. http://www.crosscurrents.org/shanks.htm He works in Hegel, Kant and the poets Holderlin, Blake, and Nelly Sachs.

I realized that I also have a book by him, and found it: What is Truth: Towards a Theological Poetics. I discovered that I had never finished the book, and so turned to the end to read his conclusions.

'It not only has theoretical implications, for the reading of shaken poetry. I think it also has quite practical implications, for the reconstruction of the church's liturgy. For what has been the basic rationale traditionally at work in shaping our liturgical calendar?

'Judging from the results: for the most part, an absolutely primary importance has been accorded to the church's supposed role as the carrier-community for correct metaphysical doctrine. In view of which, the first priority for the designers of the church's liturgy has been the growth and prosperity of their community, by whatever means considered most effective for that purpose, virtually regardless of any other consideration.

'In so far as the carrier-community for metaphysical correctness is most likely to grow and prosper with the aid of a liturgy saturated with self-serving pathos of glory, well then, according to this logic, so be it. With the result that a liturgical year has developed which is, one might almost say, one long parade of all the reasons which the institutional church thinks it has to boast about itself. Much of our liturgy has, in effect, become a sort of salesman's pitch for the this-worldly church-institution, sublated into prayer. The sins we confess tend only to be those we commit as individuals; not those of the church as a corporate entity. But redemption is, all too often, more or less identified in practice with uncritically loyal church-membership.'


Anonymous Matt said...

Andrew Shanks is now Canon Theologian of Manchester Cathedral. It is fascinating that you reference him as I read both of you with great pleasure. His account of propaganda within the church resonates with your own critique. He looks for a "solidarity of the shaken" and for truth-as-openness as a way of being church. He wrote a beautiful book on Gillian Rose and a marvellously spiky one on the CofE: "Anglicanism
Reimagined-An Honest Church?"
The latter was probably read (if at all) by most hierarchs with about as much enthusiasm as your "Pillars of Flame."
As you both strike me as lovers of the truth, I shouldn't be surprised by the connection but it was nice to see it in print.

7:02 pm, July 05, 2011  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

O Matt, your description is marvellous. How I laughed. Thank you! I will read his books.

9:59 pm, July 05, 2011  
Blogger changeinthewind said...

Please explain "solidarity of the shaken".

Thank you.

9:26 pm, July 08, 2011  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

I could write a book on the phrase, but will say something about it after I've read Shanks' book. It was a buzz word a while back among academic theologians.

10:39 pm, July 08, 2011  
Blogger Stillpoint said...

Maggie -- Andrew Shanks just had a book published that speaks of Iain McGilchrist's book about the divided brain that you cited to me. The book is entitled Hegel and Religious Faith: Divided Brain, Atoning Spirit. I haven't read it yet but I saw a preview of it on Amazon and I am attracted to it because he is arguing against William Desmond who I met and who I have read and like but also have problems with. I am curious about all of Shanks books now. They all look good and that McGilchrist book looks great as well as the Sebastian Brock books on Syrian Christianity. My "to buy list" has grown in the short time I have interacted with you. *smile* Thank you for your help in that regard!

4:46 am, July 12, 2011  

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