In times of great turmoil, when the tectonic plates of culture shift beneath our feet, when nation rises against nation and we are beset with wars and rumors of wars, we cannot help but feel the world is ending. And perhaps we aren’t wrong. After all, worlds end all the time: the Roman world, the medieval world, the colonial world, and now, apparently, the post-Cold War liberal world, have all come and gone. Through them all, however, the Church has endured. The question, “How to be in the coming world?” then, is one she must always be prepared to answer. The answer must always be, in one way or another, to remain true to the faith once delivered while rising to the fresh challenges of the moment. To borrow from W.H. Auden, the words of dead saints must be modified in the guts of the living.
In the last edition of Ad Fontes, a symposium on metamodernism, we considered how the Church might advance intellectually beyond the decaying world of postmodern theory and build something new in its wake. This Spring 2022 issue is concerned with moments when the Church has been called upon to weave the broken threads of her past into something new, all the while folding in the timeless and unchanging patterns of the catholic faith. In our opening essay, Jackson Gravitt considers how the legacy of Francis of Assissi anticipated that of the Protestant Reformation–a legacy begun in response to a spiritual decay which would eventually precipitate the downfall of Rome’s medieval pomp. John Ehrett then offers penetrating insights into how, in a postliberal world, the Church must constructively articulate her faith if she is to counter the undeniably broad appeal of avowedly non-Christian critics of modernity on the furthest wing of the political right. Joshua Patch then explores how, amidst the demise of the late-medieval, monastic culture of Tudor England, Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene offered a positive vision for piety in a nascent Protestant nation. Our book reviews then find Bruce Gordon considering how Calvin “resignified” the world in the wake of the Reformation, Joshua Heavin exploring the urgent need for deep Christian moral formation by reclaiming the doctrine of union with Christ, and Anthony G. Cirilla ruminating upon Jordan Peterson’s search for meaning in a godless world.
We are also pleased to introduce a new feature to our journal: original works of poetry, ably assembled by our Poetry Editor, Colin Redemer. It is an honor to welcome a new villanelle by the great Malcolm Guite, alongside verse from two of our editors, Colin himself and Rhys Laverty. Plato’s perfect republic had no room for poets, their words being too deceptive, too removed from ultimate reality, too unconducive to the life of the polis. But poets are warmly welcome in the pages of Ad Fontes. Whilst we have urgent work to do here at the end of the world, the Church knows she will never build the New Jerusalem in this life. We are content to agree once more with Auden: “poetry makes nothing happen.” Sometimes, even as the world ends, nothing is exactly what we need to do.
As ever, the current and previous edition of Ad Fontes are available to paid subscribers only. To gain access to all the above and more, subscribe here today.
Onsi A. Kamel