Evelyn Underhill’s Challenge to the Contemporary Church: Lessons from Her Letters of Spiritual Direction on the Nature of the Church and the Reforming Centrality of Prayer
Led by theologian Sarah Coakley
Saturday, June 17, 2023, 9:30am – 3:30pm
Nourse Hall, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church
3001 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., Washington DC 20016
Please bring a sack lunch
Registration begins May 1, 2023
Download Registration Form
Those new to Underhill’s Letters (edited shortly after her death in 1941 by the writer and spiritual director, Charles Williams, and reissued, 2008) may initially be struck by the constraints of their locatedness in British upper-middle-class life of the first part of the 20th century. But although Underhill was very much an Edwardian lady, she was also a writer, reformer, and theological guide of lasting significance, whose wisdom is as sharply relevant to the contemporary crises of the Church now as it was then. Drawing primarily from The Letters of Evelyn Underhill, the retreat addresses will focus especially on how Underhill applied what she herself learned from her two beloved Roman Catholic spiritual advisors (‘My Baron’, Friedrich von Hügel, and ‘My Abbot’, Dom John Chapman, OSB) to those under her own direction in the Church of England, and how her particular wit and insight should still discomfort, challenge and–above all–inspire us today.
Sarah Coakley is a theologian, philosopher of religion, and Anglican priest whose writing is centrally concerned with the relation between contemplation and theological expression. Educated at Cambridge and Harvard Universities, she has taught during her academic career at the Universities of Lancaster, Oxford, Harvard, and Cambridge, and has assisted as a priest in parishes in both the UK and the US. She now lives in semi-retirement in Alexandria, Virginia, and is completing the writing of her systematic theology, the first volume of which was published as God, Sexuality, and the Trinity (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Other relevant publications include Powers and Submissions: Philosophy, Spirituality, and Gender (Blackwell, 2002), and The New Asceticism: Sexuality, Gender, and the Quest for God (Bloomsbury, 2015).