When the word theology is mentioned people either have no idea what you are talking about or they think you’re talking about something religious. This week I listened to the new album by A Perfect Circle and their songs TalkTalk and The Doomed spoke to me. Theologically! This band illustrates some aspects of what I mean by public theology.
Review of Taking Hold of the Real: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Profound Worldliness of Christianity by Barry Harvey. Cascade Books, 2015.
This Review was Published in Cultural Encounters in 2017.
“Taking Hold of the Real” by Barry Harvey is a powerful book with an important message for Christians today. More than yet another monograph on Bonhoeffer, it offers a compelling analysis of the state of our Western society and the Church’s complicity in its ills. With Bonhoeffer’s help, Harvey seeks to describe an alternative way of being in the world that patterns itself after Christ’s being with and for the world. Harvey takes up Bonhoeffer’s concept of this-worldliness (the insistence that Christian existence is to be radically worldly in a christocentric sense) within the context of a world come of age. The world come of age is yet another term Bonhoeffer coined while in prison to describe the emergence of a modern world that had thrown off religion as an unnecessary garment as it encountered a new dawn of rationality and alleged maturity. How should Christians be Christians in such a world, Bonhoeffer wondered? Read More
Review for Cultural Encounters of Iconoclastic Theology: Gilles Deleuze and the Secretion of Atheism by F. LeRon Shults. Edinburgh University Press, 2014. 232 pp. $24.03 hardcover.
Iconoclastic Theology is an unusual book for this category as it attempts to apply the results of the study of the bio-cultural evolution of religion to the philosophy of atheist thinker Gilles Deleuze with the aim of producing an iconoclastic theology that relentlessly advocates a radical atheism. The book purports to be a theology rather than atheist philosophy, because “theology is simply too important to leave to theists” (187), says Shults, a former Evangelical theologian who has now left the Christian faith behind. The book follows a current trend in public discourse to its ultimate logic: the dissolution of god as a meaningful concept. Read More
“Between the World and Me” is required reading for all! With his great mastery of language Ta-Nehisi Coates gives voice to the reality of racial oppression in America. He turns the poetic into sarcasm and biting analysis but never eradicates beauty from his prose as he talks about the love for his son, the admiration for his wife, and the irrepressible living hope for his people. His impressionistic style weaves a tapestry of images that blend his youth with the reality of survival in the street and integrate his maturation and intellectual development with the vast canon of black thought and intellectualism. Read More
Gaylon Barker’s book about the theology of the cross in Bonhoeffer “The Cross of Reality: Luther’s Theologia Crucis and Bonhoeffer’s Christology” deserves the highest praise. Although, I have to admit, it’s also been a pain in the ass until I read it. That is to say, this book was published at the very moment that I did my innovative discovery of the theology of the cross being the guiding motif in all of Bonhoeffer’s work. Read More
As a theologian researching the theology of the cross (theologia crucis) in Bonhoeffer, it was time for me to read Andy Root’s “Christopraxis, A Practical Theology of the Cross.” I’m not a practical theologian. Not by profession, that is. I do think of myself of a systematic theologian who is deeply interested in the practical, and transformational power of theology. But practical and systematic theology are two different disciplines that, though intersecting, have their own, method and rationality. In this review, then, I will not discuss the contribution of Root to the field of practical theology, simply because I’m not qualified to do so. I will, however, look at the integration of the theologia crucis into his discipline. Read More
I enjoyed reading Ivone Gebara’s “Longing for Running Water.” This book advocates and explains the position of ecofeminism from a Latin American perspective. The main point of the book is that an entirely new way of thinking and doing theology is urgently needed in the face of the ecological destruction of our planet. The close connection between feminism and ecology consists in the fact that the concerns of both disciplines arise from the rampant effects of patriarchal thought patterns and behavior on both women and the ecosystem. If the patriarchy has been opposed to the well-being and flourishing of women, it is outright destructive for the earth. Ecofeminism proposes a radical new way of thinking, not as a mere alternative to established practices, but, because of the urgency of the matter, as the only possible way to overcome the ecological disaster that is looming. Read More
Mapping Modern Theology is a fun book. I provides a different take on theology as it developed after the Enlightenment. Typically one will read a historical overview that takes the reader from movement to movement whereby differences and similarities between movements are highlighted. Another common approach consists of monographs that explicate the inner coherence and workings of a particular systematic theology. Read More