Rupert Shortt is Religion Editor of The Times Literary Supplement and a former Visiting Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford.
He has contributed to a range of publications including The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Tablet and the Madrid-based Revista de Libros. His books include Christianophobia: A Faith under Attack, Rowan’s Rule: The Biography of the Archbishop, Rowan Williams: An Introduction, God’s Advocates: Christian Thinkers in Conversation, and Benedict XVI: Commander of the Faith.
— Buy it here.
For decades before his election, Pope Benedict XVI was known across the world as an unwavering upholder of Catholic orthodoxy. Critics charged him with high-handedness, and even likened the Vatican department he ran to the KGB. His backers hailed him as a courteous, deeply intelligent figure whose concern to rein in relativism and other forms of dissent appeared timely. Both sides agreed that he was the single most important enforcer of John Paul II’s policies, and that intellectually, he towers over most of his recent predecessors.
What kind of a man is Benedict XVI behind the slogans? What were the influences that shaped him, and how might the Catholic Church evolve under his leadership?
Written for the general reader, this book aims to answer these and other questions, including the puzzle over the then Joseph Ratzinger’s disavowal of his youthful liberalism from the late 1960s onwards. Following the approach adopted in his study of Archbishop Rowan Williams, Rupert Shortt summarises the Pope’s thought in the course of a biographical narrative. The assessment he provides will help dispel the stereotypes and misunderstandings that often mark discussion of church affairs generally.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; New Ed edition
Publication Date: 21 Sept. 2006
Theology has shown a remarkable recovery of nerve over the past quarter-century. Drawn from transcripts of discussions with 20 interviewees, God’s Advocates gives a rich and detailed but accessible sample of contemporary Christian thought around the English-speaking world and beyond. In the opening chapter Rowan Williams answers some of the thorniest objections to religious belief, while the other contributors address key themes in the philosophy of religion, the recent renaissance in systematic theology, new developments in feminist and black theologies, Christian-Muslim dialogue and faith-based approaches to ethics and politics. Including major names and newer voices, God’s Advocates spans large parts of the theological spectrum. Participants include David Burrell, J Kameron Carter, Stanley Hauerwas, Jean-Luc Marion, David Martin, Janet Martin Soskice, John Milbank, Oliver O’Donovan, Alvin Plantinga, Christoph Schwobel, Miroslav Volf and Rowan Williams. Their advocacy of Christian belief rests on a shared confidence that the resources of tradition provide a creative means of answering the intellectual challenges of secularism.
Publisher: Darton,Longman & Todd Ltd
Publication Date: 28 Aug. 2005
ROWAN WILLIAMS: AN INTRODUCTION – Buy here
The first occupant of Lambeth Palace in several generations with an international reputation as a theologian, Rowan Williams is nevertheless often considered a difficult writer, more admired than read and understood. Many people remain puzzled by how his social radicalism can coexist with a reputation for orthodoxy in doctrine. Rowan Williams: An Introduction is the first thorough account of the Archbishop’s career and evolution as a thinker. A long biographical chapter is followed by three further sections on key aspects of Williams’s theology, spirituality and politics. The result is a sympathetic but not uncritical profile of a leader with unmatched talents for enhancing dialogue between Christianity and secular culture.
PUBLISHER: Darton,Longman & Todd Ltd
PUBLICATION DATE: June 2003
A fascinating, fair-minded depiction of Archbishop Rowan Williams. /Rowan Williams is a complex and controversial figure. Widely revered for his personal qualities, he is also an intellectual giant who towers over almost all his predecessors as Archbishop of Canterbury. Among other achievements, he has trounced the atheist Richard Dawkins, and published over twenty well-regarded books, including several volumes of poetry and a major study of Dostoevsky. / Yet he is also one of the most reviled church leaders in modern history. Long before facing calls to step down after his lecture on sharia law in early 2008, he had been accused of heresy on account of his pro-gay views. He has disappointed many of his own supporters as well. So how has high office changed Rowan Williams? Has he been bullied and manipulated? Or is he perhaps playing a long game, obliged to rate church unity above the pursuit of his own vision at a time when the Anglican Communion has never looked more unstable? / Rupert Shortt, already the author of an acclaimed introduction to the Archbishop’s thought, offers answers to these and other questions in this authoritative biography. He explores how the events of the Archbishop’s remarkable life have shaped his beliefs and practices today. Of particular interest is the riveting account of Williams’s experience near the World Trade Center towers on the morning of September 11, 201. Written with Williams’s cooperation, Rowan’s Rule not only elucidates his ideas but gives a compelling portrait of a private and in some ways surprisingly vulnerable man.
In an updated version of his biography, Rowan’s Rule, to be released next week, Lord Williams is asked by the author Rupert Shortt whether the church’s current position needs to change . . . The biography also reveals that Lord Wililams, who is now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, feared that his opposition to gay rights while in office could jeopardise his attempts at securing work afterwards . . . The extent of the despair Lord Williams felt in office is revealed in Rowan’s Rule, including his telling a colleague after a bishops’ meeting: ‘I can’t tell you how much I hate this job.’ (The Times)
He’s freer to express his opinions than when he was as the Archibishop of Canterbury. (Jumoke Fashola BBC Radio London)
The job of Archbishop of Canterbury – pope-like in its trappings, but without the commensurate authority to impose doctrine – is simply undoable. Which is, by and large what this thorough, readable biography demonstrates – undoable certainly by a man of Rowan Williams’ gifts and character. Short, the religion editor of the TLS, and no slouch himself as a theologian, is unashamedly as fan of his subject and of Williams’ efforts ‘to evoke the transcendent in a secular climate’ . . . Shortt gives us much to admire about Williams . . . This, though is no hagiography, and so weaknesses as well as strengths are confronted unflinchingly. Overall, it provides an intriguing picture of a complex man. (The Daily Telegraph)
It’s an interesting 580-page book, especially for those with a curiosity about theology. (Terry Sutton The Dover Express & Folkstone Herald)
The lasting memory of Williams may be of a great public intellectual who made Christianity sound exciting and credible (Mark Chapman The Tablet)
In his own defence of theism, Williams appeals to the imagination as putting human life in a fresh perspective. (The Telegraph Online)
With the fully revised and updated edition Rupert Shortt should be commended for his work in writing a biography of the complex, thoughtful and deeply spiritual man that is Rowan Williams. (John Theaker Together Magazine)
This is a beautifully crafted, 500-page plus biography of the man who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012.. . . If the subject interests you, investment of time in this tome will serve you well. (Christianity Magazine)
[An] excellent, newly updated biography (Oxford Today)
through it shines the warmth and breadth of Rowan’s personality . . . A man of very many parts who will continue to enrich us all – ad so well worth taking time to read about (Reflections)
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
PUBLICATION DATE: 17th July 2014
The aim of this book is twofold: One is to counter the huge weight of column inches being spent on the perceived, and actual, persecution of Islam. The second is to turn up the volume on the side of Christians rather than Atheists (a position which has been underpinned so vociferously by Dawkins et al in recent times).
In fact there have been – and still are – many terrible stories of murder, oppression and persecution of Christians around the world, in East Timor, Burma, Egypt, China, Iran, and many other countries. The reason we don’t hear much about them, says the author, is the fear of giving offence; the fact young Christians don’t become radicalised; and persecuted Christians tend not to respond with violence. Yet Christians are persecuted in greater numbers than any other global religious body, and this fact is severely under-recognised.
It looks likely interfaith relations will be a major challenge of the 21st century, and harmony between religions is looking pretty remote. Why are faiths now so associated with violent conflict? Why has the communications revolution had a deeper impact on Islam than on Christianity? Why is there a tendency to associate Christianity with the West, and with overt/covert forms of colonialism? Just how insular and prejudiced are we in the West about Christians abroad?
Publication Date: 4 July 2013
Although parts of the Western world now appear almost totally secularised, Christianity remains the most potent worldview on earth alongside Islam. In this compelling book, Rupert Shortt gracefully argues that Christianity is a much more coherent, progressive body of belief philosophically, scientifically and culturally than often supposed by its critics. Alert to the menace posed by religious fundamentalism, as well as to secularist blind spots, he shows how a self-critical faith is of huge consequence to wider human flourishing, including through promoting peace and environmental sustainability.
Publisher: C Hurst & Co (Publishers) Ltd
Publication date: 10 Mar. 2016