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Abiding the Long Defeat

Abiding the Long Defeat

How to Evangelize Like a Hobbit in a Disenchanted Age

By Connor Sweeney

248 pp

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About the Book

This book makes a fresh contribution to a growing genre of popular literature facing Christianity’s late-modern or postmodern decline. It situates the broader fate of Christian faith within the eschatological realism of J.R.R. Tolkien’s characterization of history as a “long defeat.” Conor Sweeney contends that the horizon of the “death of God” in the West constitutes an unprecedented escalation of that defeat. He argues that there is but one effective evangelical resistance to the nihilism of our time: simple acts offered in fidelity and love. Convinced that this will require a renewed encounter with the deepest roots of Christian faith, Sweeney confronts Christianity’s complicity in the death of God and shapes a bold antidote from the perennial hope of our ongoing baptismal participation in Christ’s death and resurrection.


“Conor Sweeney offers a unique approach to evangelizing in contemporary western culture by looking to the wisdom embodied in J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic work The Lord of the Rings.”


“Conor Sweeney teaches us to think on our knees: in prayer before God, in company with the saints, in light of the eschaton. Bold and original, even prophetic, this book helps us maintain steadfastly Catholic sensibilities and the conviction of our ultimate power to prevail when all else is crumbling to ruin.”


Abiding the Long Defeat will have broad appeal to both professional scholars and intelligent laity alike. Perhaps most of all, it will be read by young Catholics eager to learn how the world got into its present disenchanted hollow.”


“Conor Sweeney shows us how to take Tolkien’s work as a guide to evangelizing ourselves and others. All who are hobbits at heart will take courage from reading this wonderful book.”


Abiding the Long Defeat provides a careful analysis of our post-Christian culture, engaging its major advocates on their own turf. Yet the author offers also a fine hobbitic guide—drawing upon our best Christian theologians—that grounds our witness in a deeply sacramental Faith of baptismal and penitential life.”


“It is not our choice whether to commence this journey. We are already underway, for we are inheritors of the earth cracks in scholasticism and the earth quakes of modernism. Baptism does not spare us the journey, nor guarantee our success; but the liturgical fellowship of faith can uphold the traveler. A wonderful insight into the demands of evangelization.”


About the Author

Conor Sweeney is the author of Sacramental Presence after Heidegger: Onto-theology, Sacraments, and the Mother’s Smile (2015), and the co-editor of God and Eros: The Ethos of the Nuptial Mystery (2015).

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