What do you call brainstorming by the means of the social media? Is there a name or do we have to make one up? Suggestions are welcome.
Anyway, to the point, which is a rather uncomfortable piece of what you might think, not unreasonably, to be self-promotion. In fact, the fundamental point, my vanity notwithstanding, is to promote an idea.
4 September 2018 is the date on which Paulist Press of New York plans to officially publish my book, Deo volente. This is the draft cover of the book:
The book is essentially my little MPhil thesis reworked to seem a tad less like a thesis. The thesis was not very long, as the University of Bristol clearly expects most MPhillers to move on to the PhD. Your monk knows when to flee while the going is good.
In a nutshell, the book uses the Coptic Martyrs of Libya (2015) as the lens through which to examine an emerging category in theology—what Pope Francis has termed the ecumenism of blood—and to tease out from it some doctrinal principles and their implications. Yet it is not (merely) self-indulgent theologizing. By following the course of the Catholic tradition of martyrdom and baptism of blood, especially the developments of the twentieth century and the present century, and identifying what I term reconciliation by blood, I propose that it is doctrinally possible for the Coptic Martyrs to be celebrated in the liturgy of the Catholic Church, and I even suggest an existing (and simple) mechanism to allow this. Reconciliation by blood has ecumenical implications beyond the Coptic Church, which are identified, and will no doubt attract some sputum-flecked outrage from those who profess to uphold Catholic tradition but will not have bothered to read what I argue.
That would be a pity as the three theologians who have kindly offered endorsements seem to think I may be on to something quite Catholic (and catholic). These are those (blush-making) endorsements in their original state prior to Paulist’s probable editing of them for the back cover:
Fr Hugh Somerville Knapman OSB presents a profound, passionate and powerful plea for the special ecumenical significance of Christian martyrdom. He explores these issues through the specific case of the twenty one Egyptian Coptic martyrs in Libya murdered by ISIS/Daesh. His answers, however, will have a lasting impact on how the Catholic Church thinks ecumenically of the body of Christ, the Church, born and nourished through the blood of Christ. A prophetic voice in our troubled times.
Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Bristol
Each year tens of thousands of Christians, from multiple churches and ecclesial communities, are murdered for confessing Christ: though divided on earth, they are united death. In this brilliant theological debut, Fr Somerville Knapman explores the ‘ecumenism of blood’ – an idea popularized by Pope Francis, but (as clearly and engagingly demonstrated here) with deep roots in ‘sacred Tradition, sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church’ (Dei Verbum 10). This is the most important work of ecumenical theology I have read in years.
Professor of Theology and the Sociology of Religion, St Mary’s University
Not least since the 16th Century Christians were noted for persecuting one another, even to the point of shedding blood. Today a different reality has emerged. All Christians, in many countries, are being persecuted and many of them have become martyrs for the faith. This communion of martyrdom has brought Christians of all denominations together in a manner never anticipated. Knapman, in his moving and insightful study, provides the historical background and the theological significance of this of this ecumenism of blood. This union of blood now fosters a union of faith, and so a common faith-filled witness to Jesus as the universal Savior and definitive Lord. Knapman’s book is inspirationally poignant and academically noteworthy. This book itself is an ecumenical event.
Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM Cap.
Member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission
The ultimate test and approbation, of course, is that of the Church’s magisterium. So in order to ensure that it comes across the magisterial desk, I would dearly like to hold a formal launch for the book. It seems that this is something authors must arrange for themselves. No doubt my abbot could be persuaded to hold it at Douai, but it is unlikely that many of the great, the good and the holy would make the trek into the wilds of Berkshire for such a brief event.
So we reach the brainstorming bit…
If anyone knows of a suitable venue in greater London that might be prepared to host a book launch at minimal expense (or even for free—Matt 25:31ff), and/or of a caterer who might be able to provide drinks and nibbles at a cost that does not totally exhaust my holiday allowance, then please do let me know. Ideally, and perhaps optimistically, it is hoped such an occasion might attract some prelates—Catholic, Coptic and otherly ecumenical—as well as some theologians, Catholic media and fellow trench-dwellers among the people of God.
Or for the theologically minded—it is hoped that the launch might begin the process of assessment and reception of the proposed doctrine of reconciliation by blood and the consequent proposal to celebrate in the Catholic liturgy the Coptic Martyrs of Libya, and perhaps other Christian martyrs who fall into the same category as the Coptic Martyrs.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.