This week’s podcasts brings another highlight of the most recent Church Times Festival of Faith and Literature, which took place in Winchester in late February: Mark Oakley’s talk, “What if this were the world’s last night?” John Donne’s lessons for today’s Church.
“[Donne’s] commitment to nearness means resisting soundbite theology, any quick clarity or easy answer,” Dr Oakley says.
“It means resisting turning honest complexity into dishonest simplicity; it means bearing with each other, seeking to read the lines of yourself and others, so that — and this, I feel, might be Donne’s great contribution to us as a Church — we are not charged to be relevant, but resonant. Our faith is not an opinion column, it is not a hobby, it is not the latest fad: it is seeking to address the perenial depth of what we experience as being human. Resonance happens in a deeper place than relevance.”
The Revd Dr Mark Oakley is Dean of St John’s College, Cambridge, and Canon Theologian of Wakefield Cathedral. His books inclued The Splash of Words (Canterbury Press), which won the 2019 Michael Ramsey Prize. He recently received the Lanfranc Award for Education and Scholarship at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lambeth Awards 2023.
Read his review of two recent books about Donne here, and listen to a Radio 4 programme on John Donne to which he contributed here, Belief in Poetry, here.
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