Kenneth Leech 1939-2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I just learned that Kenneth Leech died in September, of cancer. He was two years younger than I, so I did not expect this. I was just getting ready to send him my new book The Crucifixion, because he was very supportive of my work, always answered my emails, and wrote a “blurb” for my little book The Seven Last Words.  I met him only once, in London; I went out to the East End, to St Botolphs, Aldgate, to participate in some sort of gathering to honor him. It was rather loosely organized, to say the least — which befitted his loosely organized ministry! Although he was a political radical, he was no theological liberal. He was a great friend and colleague of Rowan Williams, formerly Archbishop of Canterbury. I admired Ken Leech very much on the strength of the two of his many books that I read: The Eye of the Storm, and We Preach Christ Crucified.  I am saddened that he is gone, and sorry that I could not send him my book, because I quote him several times. Oh, well…he did not need to know that, having been honored in so many other ways, and now joined with the saints in glory.

I was particularly interested in Ken Leech because he, somewhat like William Stringfellow (though, to be sure, without the Protestant cast of thought), combined fearlessness in social action with fearlessness in his critique of mushy “theology.” His Anglo-Catholicism and his focus on contemplative spirituality interested me much less than his biblical orientation and his courageous activism. Christians don’t have to agree on everything as long as the essentials are in place. Anyone who could write the books I mention above is someone I would always want to be a partner with in all foundational respects.

This is a very good obituary from The Guardian, in England:

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