Time for an Areopagite Option?

I’ve nearly finished the first draft of my new book, due for publication next year with Angelico Press (DV). It’s not going to be called the Areopagite Option! Here’s a précis:

Platonism once gave theologians, ascetics and mystics of the Abrahamic faiths a philosophical language which their peers in the non-theistic Eastern spiritual traditions they met along the Silk Road could understand. Since the erosion of the Platonic tradition in Europe, an understanding of the sacredness of the universe once shared by the majority of the world’s intellectual traditions has gradually been displaced by the increasing hegemony of Western materialism’s more atomising and individualistic worldview.

In this new book, the pseudonymous Christian Platonist Dionysius the Areopagite guides us on an intellectual journey eastward from Athens to Syria, down the Silk Road, and all the way to mediaeval Japan, where me meet Shinran Shonin and his school of True Pure Land Buddhism.

There, we discover that despite their radically different religious traditions, Dionysius and Shinran are engaged in a common quest for a truth which goes beyond the modern binaries of the supernatural versus the natural, culture versus nature, mind versus matter, and faith versus works.

Drawing on years of academic study and his personal experience as a convert from atheism via Buddhism in Japan to Christianity, Fr Thomas Plant gives a lively and intimate account of how two very different and distant philosophies challenge the fundamental Western distinction between supposedly objective secularism and “religions,” conveniently divided into readily conquerable islands of opinion. In Dionysius and Shinran, he discovers coworkers in a lost quest for transcendent goodness, who show how different religious traditions can be vital allies in today’s fight against the relativism of our post-truth age.

The Rev’d Dr Thomas Plant is an Anglican priest and Fellow of the Cambridge Centre for Platonism.

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