As a phenomenon that encompasses poles that are often at odds in theoretical discourse – space and time, pattern and variation, individual and collective – rhythm functions at the nexus of doctrine, practice, and culture, the place where religion is woven. Rhythm: A Theological Category illuminates how rhythm has been used to articulate various theological and metaphysical principles, providing the first theological analysis of the uses of rhythm in theology and continental philosophy.
After an orientation to how rhythm is studied in disciplines as diverse as poetry, jazz music, and conversation, the book uses insights from these disciplines to evaluate philosophical and theological appeals to rhythm. The distinction between synchronic and diachronic approaches to rhythm (the former of which observe the whole at once and emphasize harmony while the latter of which observe the unfolding of time and emphasize interruption) is particularly helpful in categorizing uses of rhythm and evaluating their appropriateness to theological concerns and their faithfulness to human experience.
Finally, after interpreting and recommending the recently-translated, twentieth-century Jesuit, Erich Przywara’s approach to rhythm as that which is most appropriate for Christian theology and faithful to human experience, the book concludes by offering an attempt to imagine how doctrines of creation, salvation, and ecclesiology might look when such an understanding of rhythm is taken into account.
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