Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

Great Mystics And Social Justice: Walking On The Two Feet Of Love

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Christianity is a call to a life of prayer and activism, the author affirms in a convincing and scholarly work that takes its title from Catherine of Siena’s revelation that we are to walk on the “two feet” of love of God and neighbor. The author bases her thesis on the lives and writings of contemplatives, men and women, famous and obscure, from early Christianity to the present, who championed religious, social and political activism from New York to Rome to Soweto–Catherine of Siena, Ignatius of Loyola, Evelyn Underhill, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and four South Africans, Denis Hurley, Beyers Naude, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Dr. Rakoczy also does a valuable service by sorting out the controversy surrounding the story of saints Mary and Martha in the gospel of Luke. She examines the voices extolling the superiority of Mary, the contemplative, over Martha, the symbol of the active life, and those extolling Martha over Mary. She includes the hermeneutical interpretation of feminist scholar Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, and the unified understanding of Teresa of Avila, who affirmed the unity of Martha and Mary in one person as the goal of the full Christian life. With reflections on mysticism, suffering and political love, and end-chapter notes and bibliography, Great Mystics and Social Justice is a solid contribution showing Christianity at its unblinkered fullest.