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Short Review: Diarmaid MacCulloch is an excellent historian. And the riffs off the idea of silence, while interesting as individual ideas are not cohesive. So on the whole the book lacks focus and organization. My problem is that it seems like MacCulloch is saying that there is no correlation within the idea of silence. So silence can be good, it can be bad, it can be sinful, it can be holy, it can be transcendent, etc. But if it can be everything then I am not sure what the point of the book is, other than to say 'hey here are some essays on silence.'
I do appreciate MacCulloch's outsider status to Christianity. So he can talk about gnostics without feeling the need to defend orthodoxy. But at the same time MacCulloch does not seem to need to denigrate Christianity because he is not a Christian himself. So MacCulloch plays a useful role as a historian. I think my real disappointment is that I thought this would be better because I so much enjoy his last book.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about Silence?
As with all D.MacCulloch's work, it is thorough, well-written and scholarly.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
The revelation that Silence and silent prayer caused some schism in the early Christian church was new to me, and of great historic interest. Alternately, the least interesting feature of the book turned out to be it's greater bulk in the form of the many, many descriptions and reasons for 'dark silence': the Christian church(es) remaining mum on their own and others' ill-doings.
What does Walter Dixon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Dixon is, with Grover Gardner, one of the best Narrators in the business. His command of language, crisp & clean pronunciation, and his ability to subtly reveal the humor in a work make him one of my two favorites.(Gardner being the other).
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I had no extreme reaction beyond the wish for more emphasis on my specialist interest which I mention below.
Any additional comments?
I had been hoping for more emphasis on Monastic Silence and Mystical Silence, rather than the many larger elucidations of the 'silence' around the treatment of Women, Child Abuse, Homosexuality and Holocaust.Commentary on Monastic Silence is all too short.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful