Fairfield University professors win national book awards


Image: Icons of hopeFairfield University professors and noted Catholic theologians John E. Thiel, Ph.D., and Paul F. Lakeland, Ph.D., have each received 2014 book awards from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

Dr. Thiel, professor of religious studies, received first place honors in the Theology category for his latest book: "Icons of Hope: The 'Last Things' in Catholic Imagination" (University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 2013). America magazine observed: "Icons of Hope, John Thiel's creative effort to explore Christian belief in eternal life, is clearly the work of a major theological thinker...."

In the book, Dr. Thiel argues that modern theologians have been too reticent in their writing about "last things" - death, judgment, heaven and hell. He believes modern theology's religious pluralism leaves room for a speculative style of interpretation, allowing for theological portraits of resurrected life that can be true to the claims of faith and inspire Christian practice. Finally, this book argues for a way of re-imagining the traditional, and rather static, conception of heavenly life. Thiel previously received the Catholic Press Association award for his "Senses of Tradition: Continuity and Development in Catholic Faith" (Oxford University Press, 2000).

Image: Lakeland bookDr. Lakeland, director of Fairfield University's Center for Catholic Studies and the Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies, received second place honors in the '50th Anniversary of Vatican II' category for his most recent book: "A Council That Will Never End: Lumen Gentium and the Church Today" (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 2013). In a review of the book, Gerard Mannion, Amaturo Chair in Catholic Studies, Georgetown University, wrote: "Paul Lakeland has produced another groundbreaking study which will inspire and energize so many throughout the church and academy alike...,"

The work concerns Lumen Gentium, Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, and how it changed how the church thinks about the laity, holiness, baptism, and even the nature and purpose of the church itself. Dr. Lakeland marks the fiftieth anniversary of this document's promulgation by taking up three major themes of the constitution: the role of the bishop in the church and the ways Lumen Gentium's teaching relates to various tensions in today's church; the laity and in particular the mixed blessing of describing them in the category of 'secularity;' and the necessity of becoming a humbler church. Lakeland has twice previously won Catholic Press Association Awards, for "The Liberation of the Laity" (2004) and for "Catholicism at the Crossroads" (2007).

For the full list of honorees, visit http://www.catholicpress.org/?page=2014AwardWinners.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 30, 2014

Vol. 46, No. 326