The sacramental and prophetic traditions of Christian spirituality, suggests Matthew Eggemeier, possess critical resources for responding to the contemporary social crises of widespread ecological degradation and the innocent suffering of the crucified poor.
In A Sacramental-Prophetic Vision,
Eggemeier maintains that the vital key for cultivating these traditions in the present is to situate these spiritualities in the context of spiritual exercises or ascetical practices that enable Christians to live more deeply in the presence of God (coram Deo)
and in turn to make this presence visible in a suffering world.
Matthew T. Eggemeier is assistant professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross. He received his master's degree at Harvard Divinity School and his doctorate at the University of Notre Dame. His essays on Christian spirituality, ecological theology, and political theology have been published in Spiritus, Modern Theology, Horizons, and The Heythrop Journal.
Eggemeier's first book is principally a diagnosis of naïveté. Christians have been naïve in their participation in the development of two interrelated crises: environmental degradation and global poverty. Wary of the tendency of American Christians to be co-opted by the state and the economy, . . . [Eggemeier] advocates for a distinctively Christian perspective on these two pressing ethical concerns. . . . Thus, the emphasis on "vision" throughout the text: Christian practices of asceticism, liturgy, and contemplation create the lens through which we are habituated to see the world as sacred and the poor as not just unfortunate, but as crucified. . . . This book is particularly well suited for undergraduate courses in theological studies.
Jonathan Martin Ciraulo, University of Notre Dame, Theological Studies
One goal of theology is to make us ready to offer an account of the hope that is in us as Christians (1 Pet 3:15). A Sacramental-Prophetic Vision meets this goal with impressive scope, discriminating concision, and refreshing clarity. Eggemeier brings together thinkers not often treated in the same work (von Balthasar and Sobrino; Benedict XVI and Foucault; Heidegger and Dillard) to offer such an accounting for hope. Even more, he translates the book's demanding vision into a set of spiritual exercises that make up a "micropolitics" to counter the enervating apathy that too often results from seeing clearly the grim realities of our suffering world. He also shows how figures such as Aldo Leopold, Dorothy Day, or Martin Luther King demonstrate in wonderful variety that persons formed by such a micropolitics into the practice of seeing those realities against a broader horizon of hope suggest and provide warrants for "macropolitical" solutions as well. In short, Eggemeier provides a concrete proposal for what a "mysticism of open eyes" (J.B. Metz) should look like in our world.
J. Matthew Ashley, University of Notre Dame
Many theologians today are calling our attention to the devastating effects of global capitalism, the destruction of the environment, and the church's present spiritual malaise. Far fewer seem equipped to offer intellectual resources and spiritual practices for sowing resistance and hope in ourselves and in the next generation. Matthew Eggemeier's new book is a tour de force of prophetic imagination grounded in sacramental wonder and hope. In the midst of competing cultural claims on our hearts, Eggemeier sees Christian spirituality as a means of retraining and reorienting our deepest human desires. His attention to the best critical minds and spiritual writers of the modern and postmodern era is masterful and, in a refreshingly clear and understated way, symphonic. I found this book difficult to put down, but even more, I believe my students will resonate deeply with the transformative vision of the Christian life that Eggemeier advances. This is a fabulous book.
Christopher Pramuk, Xavier University