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Writing in the Dust: After September 11

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  131 ratings  ·  15 reviews
On September 11, 2001, Rowan Williams, the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, was at Trinity Church, Wall Street, just two blocks from the World Trade Center. Trapped by dust and debris as the terrible events of that morning unfolded, Williams offered encouragement and prayer to those around him. Soon after, he wrote this small, poignant reflection on the meaning of ...more
Paperback, 78 pages
Published January 2nd 2002 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published December 31st 2001)
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Melody Schwarting
Reading Writing in the Dust twenty years after 9/11 is rather surreal, especially because it happened when I was six years old. My generation grew up in the world after 9/11, and (as Williams astutely points out) in the world of school shootings. Public, widespread violence has become part of our collective experience. Writing in the Dust was published less than six months after 9/11, and reading it twenty years later, in the complex weft of aftermath, is almost surreal.

Williams writes from up c
Williams was in New York City on 9/11, just a few blocks from the World Trade Center. When the planes hit and the air filled with dust and smoke, what could this man of the cloth do? The same as everyone else: quickly evacuate the building, ensure that everyone was safe, and then watch, listen, and pray. And in the months that followed he thought about what he’d seen that day, what his experience had taught him about violence, peacemaking, and the ways of God.

There is such profound wisdom in thi
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I remember exactly where I was on September 11, 2001. But I did not know till just now that Rowan William, Archbishop of Canterbury, was practically at Ground Zero. Out of the trauma, he has created this book of personal meditations. I think his purpose was twofold: (1) to help himself cope and (2) to be a pastor to others, sometimes saying what we might not want to hear.

I do not find Rowan Williams easy to read. But a slow read of this book was fruitful for me. In the book, the Archbishop refle
Oct 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Might be five stars -- I need to read it again. Essential reading for the re-arrangement of the furniture in one's head. ...more
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A concise and succinct but profound and carefully-thoughtful exploration of deep loss, pain and grief and the most appropriate way for Christians to respond to the questions of sufferers in the immediate, raw emotional aftermath of tragedy. He also specifically applies his response to the particular tragedy of 9/11 and tells us how he responded as one who was there on the day. Dr Williams is insightful but humble and meek in his wise approach. He does not try to explain away or justify suffering ...more
Linda M.
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a difficult book to read. It is difficult because Rowan Williams offers a different way of looking at the events of 9/11. It is a book that you need to study on many of the things he said. It isn't a book that one reads rapidly.

I would like to include the words that Stanley Hauerwas of Duke Divinity School that were on the back of the book. He said, "As Williams tells us, these words, written in the dust, are destined to be blown away. But even if that is true, they are words that give
Ben Thompson
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This can be read in a day, but I have left it out on my desk. I have found myself flipping through the pages and rereading random passages. I plan to keep this book at an arms reach for quite a while.
Trey Kennedy
William’s book was a great help in reflecting and dealing with the aftermath of 9/11. A thoughtful, reflective, and pastoral read.
Jennifer F
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Much shorter than I expected.
Paula Duncan
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book contains my single favourite piece of theological writing that I've come across. ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Some powerful thoughts mixed in with what now feel like very basic ideas - I imagine this was much more thought-provoking at the time of publication.
Dee Anne
Sep 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Read (or reread?) in anticipation of the 9/11 anniversary. Turned out to be a prescient elegy for the futile wars in Iraq and, now, Afghanistan.
Aug 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Very good and thoughtful and emotionally written.
Dana Larose
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2012
I heard of this one a million years ago when Rowan Williams (the soon to retire Archbishop of Canterbury) was being interviewed about a year after 9/11. I can't recall many of the details now, but I remember being struck by how humble and thoughtful he was. I'd meant to pick this book up for ages, but finally a little while back I was ordering some books from Powells, remember it, and added it to my order. Read it yesterday (at 80 pages it's more of a long essay than a book).

I had expected it mo
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't exactly remember what I was expecting from this book; but I remember finishing it knowing that I got nothing I expected, and felt bad expecting it. Writing in the Dust is an honest attempt to sort out the tragedies of 9-11, in all of its confusion and messiness, from a leading religious figure. I suspect it would do us all good if more religious leaders wrote this type of book, and we read them ...more
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Rowan Douglas Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth, is an Anglican bishop, poet, and theologian. He was Archbishop of Canterbury from December 2002-2012, and is now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge and Chancellor of the University of South Wales.

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