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Holiness and Desire

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What if the problem with desire is not that we want what we can’t have, but that we don’t want it enough? What if desire itself - the gap between wanting and having - is the key to living well? Holiness and Desire explores these questions, considering what a distinctive holiness might look like in our highly sexualized modern culture.

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Published 10 July 2020
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EAN13 9781786221285
Language English

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JESSICA MARTIN
Holiness and Desire© Jessica Martin 2020
First published in 2020 by the Canterbury Press Norwich
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Canterbury Press is an imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd (a registered charity)
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Norfolk NR6 5DR, UK
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the
prior permission of the publisher, Canterbury Press.
The Author has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as
the Author of this Work
British Library Cataloguing in Publication data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
978 1 78622 126 1
Typeset by Manila Typesetting Company
Printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Group (UK) LtdWants are the bands and ligatures between God and us. Had we not wanted, we could never have been
obliged. Whereas now we are infinitely obliged, because we want infinitely. From Eternity it was
requisite that we should want. We could never else have enjoyed anything: Our own wants are treasures.
And if want be a treasure, sure everything is so.
Thomas Traherne, Centuries of MeditationsTo my mother, Bernice Martin,
of whose 1981 book A Sociology of Contemporary Cultural Change
this is an admiring continuation
and in memory of
David Martin
30 June 1929 – 8 March 2019Contents
Acknowledgements
To the Reader
Part 1: Scripture
1. Reading
Part 2: Desire
2. Longing
3. Looking
4. Joining
5. Self-Fashioning
Part 3: Holiness
6. Converting
7. MeetingA c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s
Without friends and readers, this book would have remained as unfinished as the many other writing
projects that were in the end swallowed up by life. To those friends and readers – who gave time they
could not really afford and conversed so intelligently with the text – I am deeply obliged. To Nicola
Bown, Andrew Brown, Fenella Cannell; to members of the Ely theological group Concord; to Maria
Farrell, Catherine Fox, Alan Jacobs, Victoria Johnson, Helen King, Rachel Mann, Sarah Perry. To my
mother, Bernice Martin, who taught me to think; to my brothers Jonathan, Izaak and Magnus, who played
so much of the music. To Stella Martin, to whom the promises of desire have over and over again not
been kind, and yet manages to stay kind herself. To Anne Richards, Rowan Williams, Ross Wilson. To
Chris Rowland, who made it possible to look at fearful things.
And especially to my husband Francis Spufford, who has shown me that ruthlessness and obstinacy can
be virtues; without whose attention and generosity there would be no book at all; without whom I would
be more strange to the disciplines of love.
With thee conversing I forget all time.