Stepping Out with the Sacred: Human Attempts to Engage the Divine

Stepping Out with the Sacred: Human Attempts to Engage the Divine

Book rating: 05 Hardback

By (author) Val Webb

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  • Publisher: Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • Format: Hardback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 229mm x 33mm | 599g
  • Publication date: 11 November 2010
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1441196420
  • ISBN 13: 9781441196422
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Sales rank: 182,349

Product description

This is a masterful and engaging account of how humans through centuries and cultures have engaged and experienced the divine. Our doctor is Muslim, our lawyer Jewish our best friend Buddhist, a plurality multiplied by global travel and politics. In "Like Catching Water in a Net", Webb discussed how humans have described the Divine. This companion book looks at how humans have engaged the Divine across religions and centuries, through ritual, art, sacred places, language and song. Here, Webb includes her own experiences, both personal and observed from travel in fifty countries, as well as centuries of theology, literature and travel writing. She meanders along winding trails, talk over the fence and drink wine with a stranger, literally and figuratively. To engage the larger-than-description Sacred, we need all the stories we can find, even if only to remind us the distance still to go and the limitless (sometimes unsuccessful) journey. As a teacher of world religions and art, and an artist, this will not be a string of anecdotes, but a woven together, reader-friendly, vividly painted, theologically reflective whole.

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Author information

Val Webb is a university lecturer in religion, with a graduate degree in science and a Ph.D. in theology. She is the author of 7 books, most recently, Florence Nightingale: The Making of a Radical Theologian. Her book John's Message: Good News for the New Millennium was commissioned by the World Methodist Council. Dividing her time between the U.S. and Australia, she teaches every year at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Whitley College in Melbourne.

Customer reviews

By Steven Ogden 31 Dec 2010 5

In "Stepping out With the Sacred", Val Webb describes the postmodern dilemma "Our contemporary world recognizes how difficult it is to make universal truth claims". Most of us would like to have a generous and inclusive approach to others. But what exactly is the truth? What can we know with confidence?
Webb explores an understanding of faith, a stepping out with the sacred, which is generous and inclusive while courageously addressing the importance of truth. A sequel to her earlier work "Like Catching Water in a Net" (2007), this is a wonderful survey of the big issues of the day. From the importance of sacred space, symbol and story to life in a faith community, Webb covers all the bases. But it is more than a survey. It is a magnanimous celebration of the divine, which invites us to love generously and live courageously.
Webb shows respect for human autonomy, sensitivity to the world's religions and in-depth knowledge of science and theology. It is an inclusive, ecumenical, inter-faith book. However, what can we know with certainty? Well, there's personal experience. Experience is not fool proof, but it is very reliable. And on the basis of experience, many of us have discovered what Webb describes as that 'something more'.
Webb is a world class scholar, but this is not a dusty tome as she writes on the basis of lived experience. Indeed, for Webb experience is the litmus test of theology "The courage for me to challenge inadequate religious 'truths' came through my experience". This quote comes from chapter 13, which is arguably the most important chapter in the book. Here Webb underlines the value of experience and the importance of keeping alive the tension between knowing what is true for our selves and living compassionately with others who see things differently.
With a finely tuned appreciation of the human condition, Webb explores this something more and points to the transforming power of mystery that is beyond, or should I say beneath, the mundane and the menial. This something more gives life its sparkle and rekindles hope. I warmly commend this book to students, scholars, book clubs and religious study groups as it encourages all of us to continue to step out with the sacred.

Review quote

"'Val Webb is one of the most exciting Christian voices in the 21st Century.'- Bishop John Shelby Spong."

Table of contents

Introduction; Sacred Places; Sacred People/Communities; Sacred Buildings; Sacred Worship; Sacred Food; Sacred Events; Sacred Journeys; Sacred Revelations; Sacred Conflict; Salvation; After-life; Inter-religious Dialogue; Epilogue.