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Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life Paperback – 1 Feb 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: William B Eerdmans Publishing Co (1 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080286578X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802865786
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,499,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


William Dyrness's bold invitation to a poetic theology shaped by Scripture, tradition, and imagination one luring us toward a fuller participation in beauty than argument or concept alone allow reminds us that truth itself is beautiful to behold and poetic to the core. . . . If poetry is in its deepest reflex an intensification of life, then Dyrness's call for a poetic theology is one we ignore at our peril, reminding us that faithful living is not only about proper thinking but also and, perhaps, more properly about the texture of our living and the quality of our loving. Mark S. Burrows Andover Newton Theological School Makes a strong case for aesthetics as one of the avenues used by God to draw human beings near to him and his glory. . . . A wonderful journey through Reformed spirituality and a wake-up call for Reformed theology. Cornelius van der Kooi Free University, Amsterdam"

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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A book that I undoubtedly will be spending more time with over the coming months and years 10 Sept. 2011
By Englewood Review of Books - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
[ This review originally appeared in

I have long-admired William Dyrness's work; his The Earth is God's, for instance, is one of the finest works on theology and culture. I was therefore excited to learn of his recent book Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life, a work that "seeks to connect poetry and theology." This is an extraordinarily important book, and I must confess that I have not yet given it all the attention that it deserves. Allow me here to give just the tiniest taste of why this is such a crucial book.

First, Dyrness - following in a similar path as Jamie Smith's superb work Desiring the Kingdom - has a deep sense of the liturgies that shape our everyday desires. He says:

What I have discovered is that works of art - painting, poetry, architecture - do not function independently of the context in which they are experienced. And for most people most of the time, this context reflects the complex arrangements of modern life. The poetry that matters to most people, then, is what we might call the poetics of everyday life. So in this book I have broadened my focus to include many kinds of symbolic objects and practices - those projects that embody the desires and dreams around which people orient their lives. For some these center on specifically religious practices, but for many others these include commitments to various aesthetic, recreational, and even political causes that engender their own special devotional practices (x).

Over the course of the work, Dyrness does a great deal of historical exploration in literature and theology, but the book's final two chapters - which for me were what made this book extraordinary - turn to the ethics of how this aesthetic vision of the poetics of everyday life get worked out in our local church communities. The first of these chapters builds upon the work of Miroslav Volf, Stanley Hauerwas and Gerhard Lohfink (now there's a trio of theologians!) to flesh out a vision of "The Aesthetics of the Church." Dyrness concludes: "We interpret Scripture by our corporate life together, the social space that is formed by the Holy Spirit; we construe the text in ways that reflect the historical place that we find ourselves in (or that we have chosen) and which we will do our part to enlarge and elaborate; but above all we make our interpreted witness by the shapes and objects of our worship." From this point, he proceeds into the final chapter "Aesthetics and Social Transformation," in which he explores the church's role in community development, i.e., the aesthetics of practices that nurture the health of a community. Dyrness focuses here on three facets of community development: play, celebrations and rituals. For those who have been involved, as we have here at Englewood Christian Church, in the work of community development, these facets might initially strike us as peculiar. Dyrness recognizes this peculiarity and reminds us that the life into which God calls us goes is deeper and broader than bare necessities: "Asserting the aesthetics is essential to human flourishing is simply affirming that one does not live by bread alone [; ...] a house is meant to be made into a home; food is provided for the sake of mounting a feast."

Poetic Theology is a book that I undoubtedly will be spending more time with over the coming months and years. And if you are one who has a sense that the Kingdom of God is marked by its beauty, you would do well to do likewise!
Brilliant 9 Sept. 2012
By Mark W. McIntire - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
william Dyrness communicates the concepts of poetic theology and the history of the field clearly and honestly. I recommend this work for any theologian/ artist.
Seems like a quick attempt to logically string together what were ... 10 Oct. 2014
By Jason B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not well written. Seems like a quick attempt to logically string together what were essentially unrelated papers.
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