Book Review: Patron Saints for Postmoderns

Patron Saints for Postmoderns: 10 From the Past Who Speak to Our Future

By Chris R. Armstrong (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

In Patron Saints for Postmoderns: 10 From the Past Who Speak to Our Future, author Chris Armstrong examines the lives of ten extraordinary people whose examples transcend time and teach us today. While they may have preceded us in life, their manner of thought and record of accomplishment seem most contemporary, resonating profoundly with the postmodern perspective. Collectively, they are a people, seemingly born ahead of their time, who challenged the status quo, blazed new trails, thought unconventionally, and acted unorthodoxly. Their acts encourage and inspire; their lives inform and transform.

Emanating from the prior two millennia, these oft-overlooked patron saints for postmoderns are:

  • Anthony of Egypt (251-356)
  • Gregory the Great (540-604)
  • Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
  • Margery Kempe (1373-1438?)
  • John Amos Comenius (1592-1670)
  • John Newton (1725-1807)
  • Charles Simeon (1759-1836)
  • Amanda Berry Smith (1837- 1915?)
  • Charles M. Sheldon (1857-1946)
  • Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957)

While some from this list are recognizable, I suspect that many readers, like myself, will be unfamiliar with most, unaware of their courage and contribution, both to their time and place, as well as to ours.

Chris Armstrong writes of this group because of their lives “well lived in Christ.” Though they are not saints in a traditional sense, they are in a practical way, having modeled “exemplary, transformative ideas, practices, and character traits.” They cooperated with God to live what they believed, they modeled social and individual spirituality and morality, and the narrative of their lives can “work in us and change us.” They truly are “ten from the past who speak to our future” – if we will but hear what they have to say.

[Patron Saints for Postmoderns: 10 From the Past Who Speak to Our Future, by Chris R. Armstrong. Published by InterVarsity Press, 2009, ISDN: 978-0-8308-3719-9, 249 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.