Romantic Christianity

I have just published my book through Lulu and am waiting for six copies other than my author’s copy. I will send the six copies to my Bishop and some friends free of charge.

Others who may be interested can buy the book directly from Lulu at a very reasonable price. Note: some may experience difficulties on Lulu’s site with this link that works for me in France. Try https://www.lulu.com/ and search for “Romantic Christianity”. There may be variations in the linking system in different parts of the world.

Here is my preface:

This modest volume has grown from the experience of life and my encounter with the Christian faith. What drew me to Christianity from a sceptical childhood and rational upbringing? I have had to discover that different things attract our contemporaries to churches, pilgrimages, priests, solemn music, plain preaching and silent prayer alone or in a group.

A few episodes in my childhood stand out in my memory in relation to the themes of Romanticism, especially the Sturm und Drang of a very black storm coming in from the Atlantic during a family holiday in Portugal. I stood on the breakwater of the port facing a freshening wind and the increasing waves. My mother found me and was concerned, rightly, for my safety. The dream died. What dream was that? It was perhaps a moment of facing the anger of nature with my own dark anger.

Throughout my adolescence, I was drawn to literature from the nineteenth century, especially the poets like Shelley, Keats and Byron. The passionate symphonies of Beethoven brought me another dimension in life than I would have found in the kind of music that stimulated my contemporaries. A few months after my brief encounter with the storm, I discovered the 1812 Overture of Tchaikovsky and its scenes of war and anger after the melancholy Orthodox Church chant opening the piece. Jules Verne was a particular influence with his vision of the future in technology that was yet to be invented. Captain Nemo seemed to be fighting the same war as Byron as he gave his life for the Greeks. I saw Christianity in Romantic terms as I began to learn the organ and sang in choirs. I was attracted by the transcendentals of truth, beauty and goodness, though I had hardly heard of Plato.

In our times, we find that Christianity has become much more associated with political activism in the belief that faith without good works is dead faith. Christian worship has largely become assimilated with television entertainment and the social dimension. At the age of 22, I embraced Roman Catholicism through the traditionalists. I crossed the English Channel the following year to France where I constructed a whole reality in my imagination, something I would never find.

For many years I asked many questions about Christianity, the world, other people and myself. I sought a theological response, a psychological answer, but none seemed to be forthcoming until I gained better self-knowledge.

From the outside, most institutional churches seem to be rotting, dwindling away, the buildings neglected or put to secular use. For the first time in history, the world is no longer hostile – but indifferent. The average person could not care less and has something else to do. Religion like politics becomes polarised and increasingly radical. No place remains for reasoned dialogue. The answer seems to be found in the observation that Christianity is being put to a use for which it was never intended: secular politics and governance. That is hardly a new problem.

Being a Christian involves initiation into a mystery that is hidden from those who are not ready to understand either with their intellectual faculties or a living imagination. I discovered that the themes of Romanticism which I had experienced for myself or read in literature perfectly described the human soul that was ready to receive this Mystery of God’s truth, beauty and goodness, expressed through man-made icons of music, liturgy and human love.

This work, not intended to be an academic study, but rather a set of reflections based on reading and personal thought over the years, is both a personal testimony and a narrative of a discovery which may bring others to happiness and fulfilment of life, answers to the eternal questions and our anguish.

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4 Responses to Romantic Christianity

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Congratulations!

    Your writing, “I discovered that the themes of Romanticism which I had experienced for myself or read in literature perfectly described the human soul that was ready to receive this Mystery of God’s truth, beauty and goodness, expressed through man-made icons of music, liturgy and human love” invites me to try to apply this to J.R.R. Tolkien’s work as scholar – e.g., about the Christian treatment of the pre-Christian in Beowulf – and as ‘sub-creative’ mythopoeic writer, with his extensive personal Christian treatment of a world of angelicals, dwarves, elves, and men in the ages before the Incarnation.

    Before reading your storm dream experience, I had just come to the reference to Eärendil – “the Sea spoke ever in his ear and heart” in chapter 23 of “The History of the Silmarils” in The Silmarillion (1977) – the latest in a theme of such references throughout the book.

    • The “storm experience” was not a dream, but I was actually standing on the breakwater at Viana do Castelo in August 1971 whilst my parents were looking at something else. The storm was at its beginning, but blowing and blackening more and more. My attitude was “bring it on“, and my mother found me and said some modern English equivalent of “pater tuus et ego dolentes quaerebamus te“. It’s strange, but I was 12 and I was listening and conversing with the greatest “doctor of the law” ever – Nature.

  2. Ryan Peter says:

    Any chance I can get a digital copy of this somewhere? It’s expensive for me to import it into South Africa but I’m very much interested in this.

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