Modern Believing


Modern Believing (2019), 60, (2), 163–210.


Book Reviews C. E. Keller, Political Theology of the Earth: Our Planetary Emergency and the Struggle for a New Public. New York and Chichester: Columbia University Press, 2018. Pp. xii, 229. Pb. £17.99. ISBN 978-0-231-18991-0. The distinctive voice and style of Catherine Keller resonate throughout this book. I am broadly in sympathy with her approach and share many of the questions that she attempts to address, most notably that of how to respond to the environmental crisis. The book reads as an extended meditation on political theology and divides into three main sections, along with an introduction and afterword. Keller’s starting point is that time itself seems to be running out, facing Christians with the immediate issue of whether or not we believe in some pre-determined outcome for creation. Referring to Tillich, Agamben and Benjamin, Keller interprets Paul’s teaching on the subject as being about ‘the now time’ (p. 2). This does not mean the end of the world itself but the end of a particular human construction of the world. Somewhat as with ‘death of God’ debates, the question is that of which God / which world. The three chapters which follow focus on the political, the earth and then theology, the latter articulating what unconditionally matters (pace Tillich’s ultimate concern). The intention is to open up and further to develop earlier strands of political theology that have not quite established themselves, on account not so much of disputes as of ‘failures of resonance’ (p. 11). Another major influence in Keller’s work is Whitehead and process philosophy. Running through the text is a commitment to apophatic entanglement which she describes in greater detail in Cloud of the Impossible (Columbia University Press, 2015). The inescapable question is that of hope in the face of the coming crisis and what this might mean given the re-formulations of both politics and theology. Modern Believing 60.2 2019

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