Two former principals of St. Michael’s College, Cardiff, are getting together to launch their new books in the New Year.
The Rev. Peter Sedgwick, who led St. Michael’s for a decade before his retirement in 2014, and the Rev. Mark Clavier, who took over as acting principal and is now residentiary canon at Brecon Cathedral, will hold a joint launch of their latest theology books in January.
The books will be launched at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Cardiff University Chaplaincy.
An inner-city housing estate in one of the most deprived parts of the country may seem a world away from the origins of Anglican moral theology. But the parish there represents the essence of its ministry, says Sedgwick, whose new book has been his lifelong ambition.
It took until retirement for him to devote the time needed for his 430-page historical study of moral reasoning. The Rt. Rev. Rowan Williams, master of Magdalene College, describes The Origins of Anglican Moral Theology as a “fine and necessary study.”
The book examines how Anglican ethics developed and how it continues to contribute to discussions of moral reasoning on a range of issues, not just across the world, but also on Sedgwick’s doorstep in Ely, Cardiff, where his wife, the Rev. Jan Gould, serves as a parish priest.
“Ely is a very deprived area indeed, with much poverty and social issues, but the spirit of the congregation is extraordinary,” says Sedgwick, a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission as a moral theologian. “There is a real commitment to living out a Christian life as one of hope and joy in the midst of very difficult circumstances. The parish represents the essence of Welsh, Anglican, pastoral, and incarnational ministry.”
The study, he says, shows how the Anglican tradition matters. “The first Anglicans put the tradition of the early Church and the Reformation’s emphasis on the Bible together and did not get a fudge or a middle way, but a spark, or tension, like the two poles of a battery producing electricity. In Hooker, Sanderson, and Taylor, you get a really subtle psychology, an awareness of God’s working in us to find him in our lives, and the importance of the Bible.
“That is why Anglicanism is of value now, not least on sexuality: it holds together Scripture, the tradition, and reason/ modern science in a creative tension.”
The challenge of being a Christian in a consumer society is at the heart of Mark Clavier’s new book, On Consumer Culture, Identity, the Church and Rhetorics of Delight. It turns to Augustine of Hippo for insights into how consumer culture shapes how we understand the world and ourselves and how the Church may begin to challenge that culture. The book was influenced, he says, by his work with students who had grown up in a thoroughgoing consumer culture.
“The promises made by the market are alluring. Marketeers use persuasive language to attach products to individual identities. And there’s now no escaping these sales pitches,” Clavier said. “It’s no good preaching the Gospel unless we seek, in the words of Augustine, to teach, delight, and move.
“He recognized that preachers and teachers need to be able to grab people’s attention and delight people in order to appeal to their hearts. You might say that part of my strategy when I was at St. Michael’s College was to foster a distinctively Christian community in which ordinands could delight and my hope was that they could carry that experience with them into their ministry.”
Clavier’s book is part of a new Reading Augustine series by Bloomsbury. The purpose of the series is to show Augustine’s importance to contemporary thought.
“The opportunity to write the book was exciting, as it brought together my prior work on consumerism and Augustine,” Clavier said.
Adapted from Anna Morrell, Church of Wales