Roger Lundin: re-enchanting the world
[T]here are several remarkable aspects of Lundin's argument that are worth noting here. First is Lundin's daring attempt to bring certain Christian thinkers into close conversation with the looming cultural and literary theorists of our era. It is not often that one reads criticism of this sophistication pairing Rorty and Fish with Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Lundin's mastery of literary theory is on full display here, and he writes a lucid prose that makes this mastery accessible. Along the way, he highlights the accomplishments of theorists and critics whom he believes share his desire to bring theology and the Christian tradition into closer dialogue with the reigning priests of the "hermeneutic of suspicion": in particular, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Charles Taylor, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Paul Ricoeur all receive ample consideration. In addition, the study considers major American writers (besides Emerson) in the light of the cultural shift charted in the book, particularly Emily Dickinson, Henry Adams, Robert Frost, William Faulkner, and that honorary American W. H. Auden. It is thus a model for those of us who are looking to engage current literary theory with the resources of the Christian tradition.
But From Nature to Experience is out for much bigger game than merely outlining a view of intellectual history. It is an attempt to recover lost wisdom and reassert lost knowledge. A crucial moment occurs at the end of the first long section, in Chapter 4, entitled "'Diminished Things': Literature and the Disenchantment of the World." Arguing that we can "re-enchant" the world, Lundin enlists the aid here of Ricoeur, whose emphasis on teleology, eschatology, and destiny are the antidotes for an unbalanced hermeneutic of suspicion. Ricoeur, along with Gadamer and Bakhtin, "acknowledge[s] the spiritual and epistemological limits of naturalism," and in echoing these theorists, Lundin reveals the burden of his overall argument: "literature and theory must recuperate certain resources that naturalism has suppressed or forgotten." Or, as Alister McGrath argues even more bluntly in his book The Reenchantment of Nature, we must "reclaim the idea of nature as God's creation and act accordingly." Lundin is taking an approach similar to McGrath's into the field of literary theory, desiring to "re-enchant" literature, and thus turning current theory on its head.
... The book ends powerfully with Karl Barth's meditations on the "real mystery of Easter," which Lundin pits against Dante's version of Limbo as a place of hopeless sighing and never-ending discussion (rather like some of the departmental meetings I've attended lately). Lundin cites Dorothy Sayers' remarks about the citizens of Limbo: "Their failure lay in not imagining better … . [They fall] short in the imagination of ecstasy."
—Harold K. Bush, “Re-Enchanting Emerson” in Books and Culture