Dominic WHITE, O.P. The Lost Knowledge of Christ: Contemporary Spiritualities, Christian Cosmology, and the Arts. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2015. Pp 221, $24.95r. ISBN 978-0-8146-8269-2 -- 978-0-8146-8294-4 (ebook). Reviewed by James ZEITZ, Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, Texas 48207.
Dominic White, campus minister at Newcastle University and Northumbria University and composer and founder of the Cosmos dance project, after a sabbatical to research Christian “cosmology”, has put together extensive historical and artistic materials from the early Church to provide an alternative to contemporary New Age spiritualities, for those who claim they are “spiritual but not religious.” His thesis is that Christianity once had (and now has lost) a cosmology that rivals contemporary spiritualities’ fascination with crystals, astrology, energies, and the esoteric. This Christian cosmology and the Christian message of metanoia had the advantage of teaching how to discern the good and the bad angels.
Grouping his material to match contemporary spirituality with ancient Christianity, he presents such cosmic themes as the “cosmic cross,” the heavenly journey, and wisdom. In the area of his own expertise as artist and choreographer, he demonstrates the historical importance for Christianity of the first millennium of its liturgical traditions that integrated music and dance with the celebration of the “mysteries.” Retrieving this wisdom would be a religious response to those who reject formalized religion and Christianity and claim they are spiritual but not religious.
Enhancing his presentation of early Christianity is a website (and blog) (http://lostknowledgeofchrist.wordpres.com.) with links to early Christian art and architecture, as well as music and videos. After presenting each aspect of Christianity’s lost “knowledge” or gnosis, he compares/contrasts it with contemporary forms and critiques them by pointing out their dangers that lack direction and involvement with community.
Perhaps inevitably for one who prefers the mystical in liturgy, his chapter on liturgy (Wisdom’s Liturgy) and the church’s contemporary celebration of the sacraments are the weakest. He laments contemporary ‘pop’ liturgies and contemporary architecture that removes the celebration of Eucharist from behind a symbolic barrier (communion railing) to a centralized table reflecting the Eucharist as meal rather than mystery of God’s presence. Aside from these caveats, the majority of the material”and the thesis that Christianity itself offers a cosmology and a spiritual richness”are a valuable addition to a contemporary Christian spirituality that is not only rich, but increasingly needed especially for the many ‘nones’ in our society who reject religion and have abandoned mainstream churches.