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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 20 Oct. 2008
By 
Graham Humphries (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Why Study the Past? (Paperback)
The book, Why Study the Past, published in 2005 shows the multiple layers of the Archbishop, as philosopher and theologian, adapt at the study of history and philosophy.

Although the book is a difficult read, the common theme and intention of the book is to deal with the question of the current view of Unity within the modern Church. Williams takes the Wittgenstein deconstructive view and asks us to consider again our perceived ideas of Unity in the early church, and later our view of Authority and consider the true complexity of the Church. This complexity, according to Dr. Williams, is construed as being not as transient humans with a hotchpotch of experiences, but as a common theme with our relationship with something `other'; and that `other' being in common with many other faiths that seek to grapple with the understanding of the divine and its interplay with us within a faith community such as the Christian Church.

Williams seeks to show how histories view of Unity can be played, either as a Marxist singularity with a particular advantage, offering a polished and manipulated aspect on the issue of our modern view of unity, or to read History with depth, to seek out the veritas of the subject and the individuals.

So why is the Archbishop of Canterbury so interested in Unity? In short he, in common with many Anglicans, is worried about divisions within the Church, in particular the arguments regarding the ordination of practicing homosexuals and women both to the clergy and the consideration of them to the episcopacy. Williams turns away from seeking high theological answers to these complex and angst ridden theological questions, and instead concentrates on about facing God and seeing God looking back at us. Williams' conclusion is refreshing and uncluttered: that Christian Unity ultimately rests on that we can still say the Psalms or pray the Lord's Prayer together as a community of believers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty hard going but worth the effort, 12 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Why Study the Past? (Paperback)
Reading this book gave me a much better understanding of why the church is the way it is, why certain traditions exist in different wings of the church and the Godly root of each. I think it will help me communicate more effectively with people in different christian traditions to me.

It also gave me a better understanding of Rowan Williams - his depth of thought, his compassion, his love for God and for the church.

I won't deny that it was quite a challenging read, though - I certainly wouln't like to play Rowan Williams at scrabble!
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine piece of work again by the Archbishop, 19 May 2005
By 
J. Thomas "James Anthony Thomas" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Why Study the Past? (Paperback)
An excellent book which is very well argued and very helpful to people struggling with the necessity to look at history. More than that however, Williams does not get bogged down in detail and academic intimacies rather he presents information in positive manner so that the church can look forward referring to its past, neither brushing it under the carpet, nor dwelling on it, but to learn to help to come to undertanding of the direction it must pursue.
As with much Williams, this contains wisdom that leads one to want to read more and more and think beoynd the usual spectrum.
How well people could do to listen to the advice in this short, very approachable book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good but challenging read., 12 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Why Study the Past? (Paperback)
A good book but challenging to read at times. Like others who have commented, the language Rowan Williams uses can be fairly difficult to read at times. As a short book he covers his themes well and has much to recommend.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 Jan. 2015
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Surprisingly easy to read
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Why Study the Past?
Why Study the Past? by Rowan Williams (Paperback - 1 April 2005)
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