In his remarks upon being named Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams spoke of 'the Christian creed and Christian vision (that) have in them a life and a richness that can embrace and transfigure all the complexities of human life.' Confidence in that creed, he said, 'saves us from being led by fashion'.
Lost Icons: Reflections on Cultural Bereavement explores Williams' concern that fashion dictates how we understand and respond to the world around us, rather than long-accepted behavioral and relational norms, or icons.
Whereas fashion comes and goes, cultural icons arise from generations of conversation, and 'represent some of the basic constraints on what human beings can reasonably do and say together if they are going to remain within a recognizably human conversation.'
Specifically Williams explores images of childhood, our awkwardness at speaking about community, our unwillingness to think seriously about remorse, and our devastating lack of vocabulary for the growth and nurture of the self through time.
'All have in common the presupposition that we cannot choose just any course of action in respect of our human and non-human environment,' he writes, 'and still expect to "make sense".'
In Lost Icons, he explores how cultural norms have been discarded and how society will suffer without a sense of "soul."
Title: Lost Icons: Reflections on Cultural Bereavement
Author: Rowan Williams
Publisher: Morehouse Publishing