Just published: a review essay of Patrick Deneen and James K. A. Smith in the LA Review of Books

I've got a review essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books of Patrick Deneen's Why Liberalism Failed and James K. A. Smith's Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology. It's called "Holy Ambivalence." Go check it out.


  1. Outstanding essay, Brad. So much more than a book review -- a substantive piece of work in its own right, a conversation with Deneen and Smith whose ideas you deploy both respectfully and critically to hone and shape your own take on the subject. It deserves a wide readership. Thanks.

    1. Thank you, Kim. I appreciate the kind words.

    2. Interrupted by two grandchildren (Scarlett-5 and Delilah-2), I forgot to mention something, someone (another voice), who, were you to revisit your essay, might make it even more outstanding than it already is: Rowan Williams.

      I see from the indices that Smith mentions Williams once, and Deneen not at all (and btw, neither mention Bonhoeffer, another puzzling, even glaring omission). Williams would contribute (a) on the subject of public theology (you'll know his collection of essays Faith in the Public Square [2012]) ; (b) on the political theology of Augustine (you'll also know his collection of essays On Augustine [2016]); and (c) on the theme of the tragic, which you astutely raise in your penultimate paragraph. Williams' little gem The Tragic Imagination (2016) -- the tragic as "the effect upon us of what we do not know", of what "what is utterly unresolved in human experience" -- I rate it as one his best books.


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