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"Always Carrying in the Body the Death of Jesus": Baptism, Martyrdom, and Quotidian Existence in Rowan Williams's Theology

Mark S. Medley

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This essay explores Rowan Williams’s vision of Christian identity as it is known and experienced in the practice of martyrdom. For Williams, as claimed in his meditation on martyrdom in Christ on Trial, the public performance of martyrdom, as the reception of one’s being in Christ, is chiefly witnessed in the undramatic, mundane, and ordinary routines and activities of daily life. This is not to say that literal martyrdom is not a possibility latent in Christian existence, for all Christians are called to the witness of Christ that might result in bloody martyrdom. However, Williams recasts a reception of the concept of martyrdom so as to call Christians to martyrial life in the quotidian character of daily existence. As such, martyrial life is understood as living into and out of the rite of baptism. The essay explores this assertion by placing Williams’s understanding of martyrdom and quotidian existence in relation to the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. Williams’s understanding of martyrial living is also placed in conversation with Norman Wirzba’s understanding of humble creatureliness.

 
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