A Brief Review of
Hope In An Age of Despair.
Paperback: Orbis Books, 2009.
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Reviewed by R. Dean Hudgens.
Fr. Albert Nolan has been an important figure in South African liberation theology for several decades. A twenty-fifth anniversary edition of his book Jesus Before Christianity was published in 2001. This smaller volume (edited and introduced by Stan Muyebe) brings together articles, essays, and homilies from a variety of sources. It represents a helpful introduction to Nolan’s life and work and contains a “selected bibliography” of his writings dating back to 1976. Nolan has been a notable leader in the Catholic church and the Dominican Order in South Africa during the difficult years of apartheid and beyond. He chose to remain there even when offered a distinguished ecclesiastical position in Rome. He was a primary contributor to the 1985 Kairos Document which protested South African apartheid policy and provoked much attention around the world. Nolan’s liberation theology is strongly christocentric in theory and mystical-prophetic in practice. This collection provides a very wholistic perspective on his work as Nolan addresses the biblical basis for justice, the need for a life of prayer and contemplation, and the concrete spiritual and physical needs that continue to be manifest in South Africa today. Speaking from a situation that once seemed so thoroughly without hope; a situation in which for so long the world saw the church at its oppressive worst; Nolan continues to speak with a unique authority as a representative of a faith-filled and courageous church, that has demonstrated the gospel at it’s liberating and reconciling best. This is not a great book, but it comes from a great man with a great faith and an enduring hope.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com
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Thanks for your helpful reviews of important work. See also the recent “Hope in an Age of Terror” by Paul DaPonte (Orbis; 2009.) He spends some good time reflecting on Miroslov Volf, the Trinity, (even the writings of John Zizioulas, who you may know.) Scholarly yet gripping!
Thanks for the tip! We will seek out HOPE IN AN AGE OF TERROR…
And thanks for all the good work you do with Hearts and Minds!