Sallie McFague: A New Climate for Theology

This book is actually kind of sad. Not because of its topic of course, but because it is likely to be McFague’s last book, and its a terrible note to end on. It is really weak.

McFague as published more or less the same book at least three times now (The Body of God, Life Abundant and this one), that is – if three people would have read one of these books and they would get together to discuss them they would not be able to say what distinguishes the three books from each other. They all revolve around the same ideas – that theology is about how we imagine God, which in actuality is about how we imagine ourselves; that the ”traditional” way to imagine God is the root cause for the way we treat the environment; and that if we imagine the world as ”the Body of God” things will look much better. This book adds nothing new to this argument, except a fairly standard, slightly alarmist, account of the consensus on climate change.

And its so badly written. I think this used to be McFagues strong point, her books would read really well. This one just goes around in circles, repeats itself, beats points to death. And the way she refers to other writers makes one really suspicious – she does not discuss with them, she quotes nice turns of phrase, often indicating that she is not sure this is what the writer in question originally was thinking about. This is especially true of traditional writers she cites, suchs as Augustine and Irenaeus (I think she cited the thing about the glory of God being every creature fully alive at leas five times in this book. And she already wrote a book exploring that very quote), but current writers gets treated much the same way.

I do want to acknowledge that McFague was a pioneer in eco-theology, but that said, it is odd that one has been able to work in the field for decades and still be so politically naive. She blames capitalism – fair enough – but does not see that there are actually powerful forces that want to maintaing the ”worldview” she is fighting. It’s not like they are just misinformed.

Another extremely weird thing is her view of nature. There are some passages her that suggest she is aware of how complicated this term is, but for the most part she is working a 60’s ecology type of concept, where nature is just this harmonious place where we are all ”interconnected”.

Obviously there is a challange here somewhere. The topic she is adressing is important, this is just not the way to address it.

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