The place “where God happens,” according to Rowan Williams’s striking new reading of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, is between each other. It’s a truth that we of the twenty-first century most urgently need to learn in order to heal the experience of alienation that has become endemic to our age, and these odd and appealing ancient figures, surprisingly, hold keys to this healing.
The fourth-century Christian hermits of Egypt, Syria, and Palestine understood the truth of Christian community profoundly, and their lives demonstrate it vividly—even though they often lived in solitude and isolation. The author breaks through our preconceived ideas of the Desert Fathers to reveal them in a new light: as true and worthy role models—even for us in our modern lives—who have much to teach us about dealing with the anxieties, uncertainties, and sense of isolation that have become hallmarks of modern life. They especially embody valuable insights about community, about how to live together in an intimate and meaningful way. Williams makes these radical figures, who clearly have a special place in his heart, come to life in a new way for everyone.
The book includes an appendix of selections from the teachings of the Desert Fathers.