Book review

Rowan Williams: Luminaries: Twenty lives that illuminate the Christian way

Rowan Williams assembled in this book a series of reflections on people’s stories and writings. He writes in the introduction that these are people who often lived in critical or unusual situations and whose lives can open up perspectives and horizons that could help us to make sense of our world and of God. The majority of chapters are sermons, addresses or excerpts of lectures given by him, often to celebrate an anniversary related to the birth or death of this person. Therefore, it is not a book that has to be read from the beginning to the end. You could choose a chapter every day, according to which name in the table of contents piques your interest. To be honest, I did not know all twenty luminaries before reading this book, and because the chapters are rather short, I sometimes followed up online, driven by the wish not to part so quickly and to get to know them better. Some of those listed have already become ‘beacons of illumination’ in my life, and I usually do not miss an opportunity to learn more about them. I was especially curious about the selection, wondering about how Charles Dickens ended up in it, together with names like Meister Eckhart, St. Paul and St. Teresa of Avila.

If you are curious as well and would like to give your circling thoughts about your own life a break, I recommend taking the time to read this book. I think Rowan Williams is right in saying that we could see stories of luminaries as good news in this world and referring to Jesus who tells stories so as to change people’s world.

Birgit Leuppert

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