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Heroism and the Christian Life: Reclaiming Excellence [Paperback]

By R. R. Reno (Author)
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Item description for Heroism and the Christian Life: Reclaiming Excellence by R. R. Reno...

Reno and Hook present a literary, cultural investigation of the discord and resonance between the classic ideals of heroic action and the imperatives of the Christian life, from the Homeric epic to the present day. The central theme is the difficulty of recognizing, imitating and participating in heroic excellence.

Publishers Description

This volume is a literary and cultural investigation of the discord and resonance between classical ideals of heroic action and the imperatives of the Christian life, from the Homeric epic to the present day. Its central theme is the difficulty of recognizing, imitating, and participating in heroic excellence--a difficulty that has been a concern for classical, Renaissance, and modern writers alike.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Heroism and the Christian Life: Reclaiming Excellence by R. R. Reno has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Booklist - 05/15/2000 page 1705

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   253
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.71" Width: 5.72" Height: 0.79"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2000
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664258123  
ISBN13  9780664258122  

Availability  0 units.

More About R. R. Reno

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! R. R. RENO, the editor of First Things, America's leading journal of religion and public life, grew up in Maryland and attended Haverford College. After earning his doctorate in religious studies from Yale, he taught theology at Creighton University for twenty years. His previous books include In the Ruins of the Church, Fighting the Noonday Devil, and various scholarly works. He lives with his wife in New York City.

R. R. Reno has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Theology for the Twenty-First Century

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Leadership
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Religion
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > Inspirational

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Heroism and the Christian Life: Reclaiming Excellence?

This book will burn a hole in your brain  Sep 2, 2001
Classical literature isn't what it used to be. But then again, neither am I. There was a time when all good Southerners were expected to understand and conform to classical standards of heroism. Of course, that was largely impossible. Just speaking for myself, I had little opportunity to slay my enemies on the field of battle, and little inclination to do so. Given the great gap between expectation and ability, it's little wonder that so many Southerners turn from Homer to Marcus Aurelius, with his rather sad embracing of death so opposite to Achilles' tendency to embrace the death of others.

The great irony of the Christian version of heroism described by Hook and Reno in Heroism and the Christian Life is that it is both more accessible and more demanding than classical heroism. According to Hook and Reno, we are called to identify with and participate in a form of heroism much grander than individual glory. But that participation is not so easy or obvious as you might at first think. Hook and Reno use an impressive spectrum of Western literature to point out our shifting ability and inability as a culture to get our minds around this participation. Homer, Socrates, Vergil, Jesus, Paul, Spenser, Milton, Bonhoeffer, Camus, and even a few semi-obscure martyr wannabes: You're in for a treat.

Be warned. This is a challenging work, both intellectually and personally. Take this important statement about half-way through the book: "Jesus is like Socrates. Both are absorptive in their singularity." You'll have to read the book to understand why this insight is brilliant and worth the effort. But you can immediately see why it IS effort. Who but a pair of classical scholars would talk like that? But by all means, buy and read this book, especially if you appreciate works of great scope, vigor, and humanity. I mean this in the best possible way: This book will burn a hole in your brain.

Excellent Project, Awaiting Completion  Jan 17, 2001
Heroism and the Christian Life is an in-depth sampling of the literature of heroism in its classical, Christian, and modern forms. From the figure of Achilles in the Iliad to the twentieth-century "antiheroism" of Camus and Bonhoeffer, this literary tour is intended to "tune the ear" to the various possibilities, both literary and actual, for heroes and heroism. These include Achilles, the hero who surpasses conventional standards of heroic achievement and reward; Socrates, who challenges the imagination even while defying imitation; Saint Anthony, who achieves greatness even while reflecting the greatness of another; and others in the Western literary tradition. Although written from a Christian perspective, the book is much broader in scope than the title might indicate. Drawing from without as well as from within the Christian tradition, the authors survey and compare the various concepts of heroism as they are presented in a broad spectrum of Western literature.

Hook and Reno succeed in parsing the ancient and modern language of heroism for an audience largely unaccustomed to the very idea of the heroic. This reviewer was indeed "bitten by the ambition to reclaim excellence." The book's primary drawback is its lack of a conclusion. After such a close and expert reading of the texts, one would expect Hook and Reno to conclude with a coherent and compelling vision for heroism in the postmodern age. While the analysis of texts both ancient and modern successfully sensitizes the reader to the possibilities of heroic character and enactment, the final chapter left this reviewer wondering how the authors intend for heroism to be worked out in an antiheroic society. Although the final chapter correctly diagnoses Western society's objections to the concept of the heroic, the authors fall short of providing the expected prescription.

Nonetheless, Heroism and the Christian Life successfully alerts and inspires the patient reader to the possibilities of a life of "surpassing excellence."


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