Lost Icons:Reflections on Cultural Bereavement

Lost Icons:Reflections on Cultural Bereavement
In his remarks upon being named Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams spoke of "the Christian creed and Christian vision (that) have in them a life and a richness that can embrace and transfigure all the complexities of human life." Confidence in that creed, he said, "saves us from being led by fashion."

Lost Icons: Reflections on Cultural Bereavement explores Williams' concern that fashion dictates how we understand and respond to the world around us, rather than long-accepted behavioral and relational norms, or icons. Whereas fashion comes and goes, cultural icons arise from generations of conversation, and "represent some of the basic constraints on what human beings can reasonably do and say together if they are going to remain within a recognizably human conversation."

Specifically Williams explores images of childhood, our awkwardness at speaking about community, our unwillingness to think seriously about remorse, and our devastating lack of vocabulary for the growth and nurture of the self through time. "All have in common the presupposition that we cannot choose just any course of action in respect of our human and non-human environment," he writes, "and still expect to 'make sense.'"

In Lost Icons, he explores how cultural norms have been discarded and how society will suffer without a sense of "soul."

"Those who are already familiar with the writings of Rowan Williams will know of his gift of taking the ordinary stuff of human experience and opening it up to show how it can carry us into the mystery of God incarnate. They will not be surprised to discover that in his new book he once again enlightens us." -The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold

"How rare it is to find someone who, simultaneously, is thoughtfully and constructively involved both with the main teachings of Christian theology and also with contemporary culture, politics, education, and spirituality. This is a rich book..." -David F. Ford, Theology Today

"Rowan Williams is one of the deepest and most insightful theologians today. Here he reflects on crucial notions - childhood, charity, remorse, soul - that we depend upon but have allowed to atrophy." -L. Gregory Jones, Dean and Professor of Theology, Duke Divinity School.

Rowan Williams will be the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury.

5 1/2 x 8 1/2
200 pages

Publication Date: 
September 1, 2002