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Ponder These Things: Praying With Icons of the Virgin [Hardcover]

By Rowan Williams (Author)
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Item description for Ponder These Things: Praying With Icons of the Virgin by Rowan Williams...

Williams invites readers to explore and reflect on the depths of meaning in three classic icons of the Virgin and her Child from the Eastern Christian tradition.

Publishers Description
What we call holy in the world ? a person, a place, a set of words or pictures ? is so because the completely foreign is brought together with the familiar and the everyday. No one embodies this more than Mary, who literally makes a home for the Creator of all things in her own body and in her own house ? the strangest reality we can conceive. Ponder These Things invites readers to explore and reflect on the depths of meaning in three classic icons of the Virgin and her Child from the Eastern Christian tradition. Icons have been described as ?theology in line and color? and, in tracing the movement within these icons, The Archbishop of Canterbury discovers the pattern of love that they reveal, a love that invites and embraces us so that we no longer remain as spectators, but find ourselves caught up in the drama that unfolds itself before us.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Paraclete Press (MA)
Pages   73
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.72" Width: 4.98" Height: 0.57"
Weight:   0.46 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Aug 1, 2006
Publisher   Paraclete Press (MA)
ISBN  1557255091  
ISBN13  9781557255099  

Availability  0 units.

More About Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams Rowan Williams was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury in February 2003. His previous positions include Archbishop of Wales, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Oxford and Dean of Clare College, Cambridge. He has taught theology for more than fifteen years in five continents, worked as a parish priest, and published widely. His previous publications include "Teresa of Avila" (1991), "Open to Judgment" (1994) and "Sergi Bulgakov" (1999).

Rowan Douglas Williams was born in Swansea, south Wales on 14 June 1950, into a Welsh-speaking family, and was educated at Dynevor School in Swansea and Christ's College Cambridge where he studied theology. He studied for his doctorate – in the theology of Vladimir Lossky, a leading figure in Russian twentieth-century religious thought – at Wadham College Oxford, taking his DPhil in 1975. After two years as a lecturer at the College of the Resurrection, near Leeds, he was ordained deacon in Ely Cathedral before returning to Cambridge.

Rowan Williams on his Graduation, Christ's College Cambridge, with Parents Aneurin and Delphine Williams, 1971From 1977, he spent nine years in academic and parish work in Cambridge: first at Westcott House, being ordained priest in 1978, and from 1980 as curate at St George's, Chesterton. In 1983 he was appointed as a lecturer in Divinity in the university, and the following year became dean and chaplain of Clare College. 1986 saw a return to Oxford now as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church; he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1989, and became a fellow of the British Academy in 1990. He is also an accomplished poet and translator.

Rowan Williams and Jane Paul on their Wedding Day, 1981In 1991 Professor Williams accepted election and consecration as bishop of Monmouth, a diocese on the Welsh borders, and in 1999 on the retirement of Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones he was elected Archbishop of Wales, one of the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion. Thus it was that, in July 2002, with eleven years' experience as a diocesan bishop and three as a leading primate in the Communion, Archbishop Williams was confirmed on 2 December 2002 as the 104th bishop of the See of Canterbury: the first Welsh successor to St Augustine of Canterbury and the first since the mid-thirteenth century to be appointed from beyond the English Church.

Dr Williams is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer, scholar and teacher. He has been involved in many theological, ecumenical and educational commissions. He has written extensively across a very wide range of related fields of professional study – philosophy, theology (especially early and patristic Christianity), spirituality and religious aesthetics – as evidenced by his bibliography. He has also written throughout his career on moral, ethical and social topics and, since becoming archbishop, has turned his attention increasingly on contemporary cultural and interfaith issues.

As Archbishop of Canterbury his principal responsibilities are however pastoral – leading the life and witness of the Church of England in general and his own diocese in particular by his teaching and oversight, and promoting and guiding the communion of the world-wide Anglican Church by the globally recognized ministry of unity that attaches to the office of bishop of the see of Canterbury.

His interests include music, fiction and languages.

In 1981 Dr Williams married Jane Paul, a lecturer in theology, whom he met while living and working in Cambridge. They have a daughter and a son.

Rowan Williams was born in 1950.

Rowan Williams has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Glory of the Lord
  2. Making of the Christian Imagination
  3. Outstanding Christian Thinkers (Paperback Continuum)
  4. Voices from the Monastery

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Orthodoxy
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > Prayer

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Reviews - What do customers think about Ponder These Things: Praying With Icons of the Virgin?

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has written a series of meditations on three icons, specifically on three forms of icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Christ Child. The first is the Hodegetria, Mary who shows us the way. Mary and Christ in this icon manifest their unique identities in a relationship: she is one who engages us in order to point us to Christ the way that leads to life, he is one who looks with love on humanity. The second icon is the Eleousa, the tender loving Madonna, named for the obvious affection of the Virgin for her child. But Rowan focuses here more on the love with which the God-man embraces his mother and through her the whole human race, passionately leaping over the boundaries that would seem to separate humanity from divinity. The third icon is the Orans, where Mary is the sign of the Church at prayer containing within herself/itself the God-man as the source of that prayer, remarkable in his hiddenness in the Church, in society, and in our own lives. The archbishop concludes with a reflection on the legend of Mary being raised in the temple and working on the sanctuary veil. The veil is the symbol of that which separates God and humanity, a symbol rent in two at the death of Christ. These few words, however, only point in the general direction of Rowan's deeper reflections, and the book deserves rereading and further meditation. Bishop Kallistos Ware writes an appreciative introduction. Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic alike may benefit from and appreciate this work.
Multi-sensory prayer  May 31, 2003
`Ponder These Things: Praying with Icons of the Virgin' is the latest book by Rowan Williams, recently appointment to be Archbishop of Canterbury after a distinguished career as an academic and cleric in the Church of England (Anglican Church). Williams has a great affinity for the wider breadth of Christian experience, drawing influences and inspiration from Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox practices across the centuries. In this book, which is introduced by Bishop Kalistos Ware, a prominent Orthodox theologian, Williams explores ways in which meditation and prayer can be strengthened and enhanced with incorporation of iconographic images.

Protestants particularly have lost the tradition of the use of art work as representative objects for worship. However, the debate over the appropriateness of icons and other imagery is almost as old as Christianity itself. That Jesus could be depicted without violation of the `no graven images' commandment took a long time to be decided, and finally was deemed permissible because of Jesus' human nature. Rare the depiction of God or God the Father as anything more than a cloud, a hand, or some other vague symbol meant to characterise, more than anything else, the mystery involved rather than an actual physical likeness. Michaelangelo's depictions on the Sistine Chapel ceiling are remarkable not simply from their aesthetic quality, but also in that the image of God is very direct and distinctly human in form.

However, icons are a special form of art. They are not simple paintings, however elegant, as Ware points out in his introduction.

`The icon is not simply a work of art on the same level as any other work of art. On the contrary, the icon exists within a specific context; and, if divorced from that context, it ceases to be truly itself. The icon is part of an act of worship; its context is invocation and doxology. The art of the icon is a liturgical art. In the tradition of the Orthodox church, the icon is not merely a piece of decoration or a visual aid. We do more than just look at icons or talk about them; we pray with them.'

Williams draws his work from an event in his own ministry back in Britain.
`These meditations are really about how we are led by faith both to live in the world, fully flesh and blood in it, and at the same time to be aware of the utter strangeness of God that waits in the heart of what is familiar - as if the world were always on the edge of some total revolution, pregnant with a different kind of life, and we were always trying to catch the blinding momentary light of its changing.'

Using three traditional icons and one modern piece, Williams draws us into a method of contemplation and consideration with the icons. The Hodegetria, the Eleousa, and the Orans traditional icons show depictions of the Virgin Mary in very traditional ways; one who is faithful, who is loving, who is sign and a direction of the way we are to go. Traditionally the Virgin Mary is the first human being to have faith in Jesus, faith in his mission and faith in God's direction of that purpose. The Magnificat is a verbal depiction of this kind of faith; icons are the visual depiction. As the scriptural text talks about Mary `pondering these things in heart', so to are we called, when praying with the icons, to exhibit that kind of faith and loving nature, sureness of God's call and direction to us, whatever it may bring.

The modern piece is not what one would consider an icon in the regular sense. Using a modern art scarlet and purple fabric study by Leigh Hurlock, Williams explores a legend of Mary, the story of her weaving the sanctuary veil, a curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the eyes and physical presence of those who came into the Temple. In a sense, Mary's being provided the substance to weave both the veil and the way to see past the veil to holiness through Jesus.

Purple is the colour of royalty; scarlet is the colour of martyrdom, or the cross. The colours are significant, as are the images, in making the completeness of the experience as an iconographic piece.

This is a small book. It has a mere 75 pages or so of text, and thus could be read fairly quickly. However, to do so would be to deny oneself the richness of the experience. One can glance at an icon, generally a fairly small object, and think one has seen it. However, the true experience of an icon, and the true experience of this book, comes from re-reading, stopping, meditating, and slowly working through each detail. The book is generously illustrated in word and graphic art. Each of the icons is presented in full colour, with details highlighted in larger size at appropriate points in the text.

Through all the meditations, we are looking for God, and hopefully come to realise that God also looks for us.

`We find the God who has taken up residence in the heart of our humanity, who prays when we are not looking, not trying, who is at work when we are silent or helpless, and who can never be pinned down to a here or there in our individual lives or in the Church at large.'

Ponder these things...


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