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The Luminous Dusk

Author: Dale C Allison Jr
Published By: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company (Michigan/Cambridge)
Pages: 177
Price: £8.99
ISBN: 0 8028 3218 0

Reviewed by Jane Kustner.

Dale Allison is Errett M Grable Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

The title of this book is misleading. There is little “Luminous Dusk;” rather a reflection of Allison’s academic learning, and personal experiences. It is well-written and readable, if a little self-indulgent, but with a sense of the observer about it rather than fully immersed participation.

Allison explores how urbanization has severed our connection with nature and separated us from God. God is crowded out by an increase in personal noise and divertissement, a compulsion to explain and rationalize, and the destruction of imagination. Allison mourns our lack of real engagement with Scripture and our tendency to over-analyse. He enthuses: “When I push its pages apart, I lay my finger on God’s heart.”  He despairs of our cult of celebrities and the death of real heroes who were famed for their great exploits or moral character - celebrities are simply famous (for a young reader the choice of Jane Russell for his comparison might detract from the point!). Allison analyses the posture of people at prayer, and encourages the reader to embrace the lack of activity and imagery in prayer: “We must unlearn our boredom.” He rather patronisingly dismisses simple faith in answered prayer as primitive, writing that we must “separate our spiritual lives from our magical instincts.” But this is to confuse intercessory prayer with contemplative prayer. Finally, in the last few pages he addresses his title: “Darkness and stillness then become our collaborators, helping us to drag our attention away from this world of divertissement to the numinous world that hold world that holds the neglected fountain of divine light.”

Allison takes us to the door of the Luminous Dusk; the journey starts on the last page.

Jane Kustner

Curate at St John Waterloo

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You are reading Issue 41 of Ministry Today, published in November 2007.

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