Sarah Bachelard’s book Resurrection and Moral Imagination was recently reviewed in The Tablet by Philip McCosker. An edited extract of the review appears below, or you can read the full review online on The Tablet’s website.
It is staggering how little good recent theological writing on the Resurrection there is. You might expect that the pivotal element of the Christian Gospel would have been the focus of theologians’ attention for centuries; you would be disappointed…
Very rarely has the Resurrection been treated as theologically revealing in its own right. There are some notable exceptions: Rowan Williams, James Alison, Anthony Kelly CSsR, and most recently, Brian Robinette’s brilliant Grammars of Resurrection.
But now we have Australian philosopher-theologian Sarah Bachelard’s excellent Resurrection and Moral Imagination which boldly and astutely builds on all these theologians to forge an ethical vision from that most Christian of doctrines. It will be of interest to anyone concerned with the question of how to live in our world, whether religious or secular.
Bachelard’s game-changing vision is quite different from that of her fellow Anglican moral theologian Oliver O’Donovan’s earlier Resurrection and Moral Order. For O’Donovan, ethics must be founded on the Resurrection because it vindicates the created order and its morality; for Bachelard, the Resurrection gives a new world from which to act, and that world can be perceived even without explicit religious belonging…
…Bachelard has interesting and nourishing things to say about desire, sacrifice, secularisation, the need for the Church and theology to attend to the messiness of real life. Her prose is refreshing and crystal clear, deceptively simple, open, conciliatory, non-fluffy and imaginative. Her focus on practice is astute and the engagement with the secular timely. This book is a major contribution to theological ethics and deserves sustained engagement.
About the Author: Reverend Dr Sarah Bachelard is an Anglican priest and theologian based in Canberra, Australia. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University, with special interests in philosophy, ethics and spirituality, and is the author of Experiencing God in a Time of Crisis (Convivium, 2012). She is the leader and founder of Benedictus Contemplative Church, an ecumenical worshipping community with a practice of silent meditation at its heart, and is a member of the World Community for Christian Meditation.
‘Far more than a discrete proposition, the resurrection of Jesus entails an imaginative world to be inhabited and cultivated-a world that would transform our moral stances by reframing the horizons and desires that shape and often distort our views of transcendence, self and neighbor, and death. Sarah Bachelard’s Resurrection and Moral Imagination powerfully evokes such a world, yet does so by showing how the distinctive features of Christian imagination open up to and are deepened by sustained conversation across philosophical and theological boundaries. While skillfully conducting this conversation, Bachelard’s own keen insights provide the reader with a rich sense of the Christian’s resurrection ethic as a wisdom ethic.’ Brian Robinette, Boston College, USA
‘More than any other book I have read, Resurrection and Moral Imagination brings the kind of moral philosophy first developed in the English-speaking world by Iris Murdoch, into critical dialogue with theology. In prose of enviable simplicity, with sensitivity, depth and sometimes startling originality, Bachelard explores the ways each needs the other.’ Raimond Gaita, University of Melbourne, Australia
‘Innovative, lucid and sensitive, this is a genuinely fresh look at what is distinctive about the Christian moral vision, worked out in conversation with a variety of sympathetic but more secular voices, including Rai Gaita and Iris Murdoch. Sarah Bachelard is a really significant new voice in theological ethics.’ Rowan Williams, Magdalene College, Cambridge, UK