This innovative book aims to create a ‘poetics of Church’ and a ‘religious imaginary’ as alternatives to more institutional and conventional ways of thinking and of being ‘Church’. Structured as a spiritual and literary journey, the work moves from models of the institutional Catholic Church into more radical and ambiguous textual spaces, which the author creates by bringing together an unorthodox group of thinkers referred to as ‘poet-companions’: the 16th-century founder of the Society of Jesus, Ignatius of Loyola, the French thinkers Gaston Bachelard and Hélène Cixous, the French poet Yves Bonnefoy, and the English playwright Dennis Potter.
Inspired especially by the reading and writing practices of Cixous, the author attempts to exemplify Cixous’ notion of écriture féminine—‘feminine writing’—that suggests new ways of seeing and relating. The project’s uniting of Ignatian spirituality with postmodern thinking and its concern with creating new theological, literary and spiritual spaces for women both coincide and contrast with Pope Francis’s pastoral and reformist tendencies, which have neglected to adequately address the marginalisation of women in the Church. As Francis has called for ‘a theology of women’, of which there are, of course, many to draw from, this volume will be a timely contribution with a unique interdisciplinary approach.
Table of Contents
Foreword by David Jasper; Introduction(s); Part I: Home; 1 Skirting the Edges: Tina Beattie and Hans Urs von Balthasar in Church; 2 Gaston Bachelard Takes Us to Church; 3 Transfigurations with Yves Bonnefoy; Part II: Leaving Home: From Temple to Text; 4 What Is Church When Church Is Not?; 5 The Poet Sets the Path: a Reading of Hélène Cixous’ Manna; 6 (Trans)Forming Faith with Yves Bonnefoy, Hélène Cixous and Ignatius of Loyola; 7 Poetry and Prayer: an ‘Inner Kinship’; Part III: Transformative Homecomings; 8 ‘But Now My Eye Sees You’: Reading Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective and the Book of Job with Hélène Cixous; 9 Believing as a Poet: ‘Writing All the Way Down’
Jennifer Reek has a PhD from the Centre for Literature, Theology and the Arts, University of Glasgow. Her work has appeared in journals such as Literature and Theology and Contemporary Women’s Writing. She is co-editor of the forthcoming fourth volume of the Routledge Power of the Word series, Thresholds of Wonder: Poetry, Philosophy and Theology in Conversation. Currently, she teaches seminars in Great Books in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut.
"Jennifer Reek’s book is a beautifully written account of a life-changing journey she has undertaken […] Reek interweaves with impressive erudition many different writings and careful autobiographical reflection."
– Kathryn Wills, University of Glasgow, Literature & Theology
"How is the “poetic ... political” (171)? This question conveys the dynamic life and the theme that connects the 10 essays in Jennifer Reek’s A Poetics of Church: Reading and Writing Sacred Spaces of Poetic Dwelling. At times elusive, always allusive with countless conversation partners, Reek invites us on a journey with poet-thinker “companions,” including Ignatius of Loyola, Gaston Bachelard, Yves Bonnefoy, Hèléne Cixous, Dennis Potter, and Karl Rahner.
- Larry D. Bouchard, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, Reading Religion