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Editor's Notes

Ellen K. Wondra

Scripture, tradition, reason, Hooker said. When one reads Hooker’s notes, it’s clear that a wide-ranging and varied gathering of texts and practices comprise “tradition,” which Hooker then interprets in response to the matters and concerns facing him. As theologians continue to point out, it is important to note here not just which texts and practices are involved, but the processes by which they are gathered and interpreted as they are handed on from one generation to the next. “Traditioning” is a matter of bringing out of the storehouse that which is old as well as that which is new (Matt. 13:52).

There is a particularly modern temptation to set aside “what is old” as ill-informed in comparison to contemporary material, or inferior in understanding, or just plain musty and moth-eaten. This is not a temptation to which Anglicans are particularly susceptible. Rather, the Anglican tradition--at least the North Atlantic strain of it--looks readily to the wisdom of our ancestors for some degree of guidance in every matter that captures our attention, be that asserting the importance of “the way we do things here” or assessing what may be the most “convenient” (Hooker again) way of responding to new knowledge and experience.

And, of course, in such looking there is always interpretation--decisions about what of the storehouse is to be brought out, how it is to be understood, and how it might form and inform our reflections today. Every person, every theology, every community needs a useable history--useable not just in the sense of providing grist for the mill, but also in the sense of providing companionship along the way. Put plainly, it’s reassuring as well as challenging to know that others have walked these paths before.

This issue of the Anglican Theological Review offers the companionship of a variety of ancestors who offer to accompany us now in various ways. In his essay on Julian of Norwich, Daniel Pinti draws attention to Julian’s reticence--her restraint in describing and interpreting her own mystical experience for others. Such care, in Pinti’s estimation, is not only or primarily a response to the risks Julian took in making her showings known, though these were considerable. Rather, Julian’s reticence is a theological and rhetorical strategy that involves the community of those who read her with the whole of her experience, of which she is both guide and interpreter. In showing her Showings as she does, Julian enacts the perichoretic theology of which she writes. That is, in her contemplation the Trinity is both mutually indwelling and at the same time self-offering to an other, inviting the other into the communion that is God. Julian’s Showings work in the same way: she offers her vision perichoretically to others with a reticence that invites them to participate as well in the communion with God that she has envisioned.

Evelyn Underhill’s long quest for holiness is the subject of Nadia Delicata’s essay. A woman of sharp intellect, Underhill longed to be holy, but was for many years unable to view her search as other than an intellectual exercise. In her 1911 book Mysticism, while explicitly preferring the “emotive will” over the “intellectual will,” she laid out a path that clearly put “all the psychological, disembodied work” prior to any significant “concrete labors of love and compassion in the world.” However, the brutalities of World War I precipitated her realization that all spirituality is embodied, in persons and in religious communities. She sought out Baron Friedrich von H

 
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