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Gaia and God: Eco-feminist Theology of Earth Healing Hardcover – 15 Mar 1993

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco; First Edition First Printing edition (15 Mar. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060670223
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060670221
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 918,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Ruether searches the Western Judeo-Christian tradition for weavable strands of an ecological culture and society...and envisions...healthy societies based on a principle of equity --Creation Spirituality --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Gaia and God, ecofeminism, and earth healing: these vast concepts point to the wide-ranging agenda that I seek to explore in this book. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Bevan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 19 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a major contribution from a prominent liberal feminist theologian, exploring the ways in which strands of the Judeo-Christian tradition might be brought into harmony with a holistic understanding of our place on the earth. Starting with an analysis of the Judeo-Christian creation story, compared with Greek and Babylonian ones, Radford Ruether critiques the way the three traditions fail, for different reasons, to truly connect humankind with the earth. Though she holds out some hope that science may develop a new creation-story of its own to help restore the connection, the author nonetheless criticises what she calls science's fact/value split as inherently likely to impede this. Looking next at how some (at least) of the responsibility for the current ecological crisis can be traced back to Judeo-Christian narratives of domination (Genesis 1), Radford Ruether ends with accounts of how the covenantal and sacramental Christian traditions might be used to help restore a right, and suitably humble, `re-insertion' of humanity into an earth-centred frame of reference. The latter is, to my mind, much the more successful account, since the covenantal tradition (at least as Radford Ruether conceives it) remains very human-centred. The author's final chapter, on the need for political action, is now looking somewhat dated (it was written in 1992) - but perhaps this is partly because so much of what she advocates is already becoming fairly 'mainstream'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Must-read for those interested in an ecologically sound theology 9 April 2007
By Jason Mierek - Published on
Format: Paperback
Professor Ruether's dense and challenging book is a must-read for progressive Christians (and other disciples of Jesus) interested in developing an ecologically sound theology. As she makes abundantly clear in the final section of the book, "there is no ready-made ecological spirituality and ethic in past traditions. The ecological crisis is new to human experience...The radical nature of this new ecological devastation means that all past human traditions are inadequate in the face of it. Whatever useful elements may exist...must be reinterpreted to make them usable in the face of both new scientific knowledge and the destructive power of the technology it has made possible" (p. 206). The clarity of her argumentation, the quality of her prose, and the urgency of our current environmental and theological situation make what could be a daunting read into a fair approximation of a page turner.

The book itself is divided into four sections---Creation, Destruction, Domination and Deceit, and Healing---and in each section Ruether sketches the different lines of myth and metaphor that have shaped and continue to shape our relationships with one another and with the living earth as a whole.

"Creation" begins with the Babylonian, Jewish, and Platonic Greek creation stories, in which nature and the feminine are conceived of as the threatening "Other" in need of suppression by a transcendent (male) ego. This section concludes with the post-Newtonian perspectives of quantum mechanics, ecology, and other contemporary scientific cosmologies that seem to imply a re-integration of the observer ("man") with the observed ("nature"). Ruether feels that this latter "creation myth" needs to become the new basis for our theologies. "We need scientist-poets who can retell the story I have alluded to in this chapter, the story of the cosmos and the earth's history, in a way that can call us to wonder, to reverence for life, and to the vision of humanity living in community with all its sister and brother beings" (p. 58). This language is hardly that of traditional Christian theology, and yet the need for a language of wonder and reverence that is not inextricably connected with 2,000-year old myths and legends is, to me, self-evident.

"Destruction" explores and interrogates Jewish and Christian themes of the End Times, and then examines the converging contemporary catastrophes facing humanity and the entire global biosphere. Are these myths and realities related, and if so, how? In the traditional views, good and evil tend to be understood in tribal terms, and so the response to "evil" often takes the place of total, absolute enmity towards different genders, religions, ethnicities, races, etc. "The impulse to apocalyptic thus becomes genocidal, the extermination of those people who are seen as 'Satan's people.'...Massacres of the enemy through military weapons, ranging from the sword to nuclear bombs, are fantasized by apocalypticists as instruments of righteousness" (p. 83). If the entire natural world is understood as the primal Other which needs to be subdued or subjugated, then it isn't hard to see the connection between these worldviews and our contemporary ecological crises.

The third section, "Domination and Deceit," traces the connections between Judeo-Christian understandings of evil and patriarchal patterns of exploitation and abuse that have characterized much of the history of civilization. Lest the reader come this far only to think that the Judeo-Christian worldview is untenable and irredeemable from an ecological perspective, Ruether provides two lines of theological insight that might provide an ecologically sound basis for a Christian theology of "Healing"---the covenantal and the sacramental. In her final chapter, Ruether outlines how these different theological elements can come into play in our efforts to heal ourselves, one another, and the living world on which we all depend for our existence. It helps also to keep in mind that Ruether is not looking

In short, essential reading for Green Christians and other spiritually and ecologically minded types.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H Propp - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Rosemary Radford Ruether (born 1936) is an American feminist scholar and theologian.

She states in the Preface to this 1992 book, "Gaia and God, ecofeminism, and earth healing: these vast concepts point to the wide-ranging agenda that I seek to explore in this book. Are Gaia, the living and sacred earth, and God, the monotheistic deity of the biblical traditions, on speaking terms with each other? Ecology and feminism, brought together in the unified perspective of ecofeminism, provide the critical perspective from which I seek to evaluate the heritage of Western Christian cuture. The goal of this quest is earth healing, a healed relationship between men and women, between classes and nations, and between humans and the earth."

Here are some representative quotations from the book:

"The classical Christian understanding of sin ... is a heritage that is also deeply problematic, one that has contributed as much to the justification of evil as to the repentant overcoming of evil." (Pg. 139)
"The psychosocial weakness of matricentric society lies in its difficulty in drawing in the contribution of the grown male without either conceding to this male a dominating role over women, or else producing a demoralized male deeply resentful of women." (Pg. 167)
"Thus the search for an ecological culture and society seems to demand three elements: (1) the rebulding of primary and regional communities ... (2) just relations between humans ... and (3) an overcoming of the culture of competitive alienation in Christian culture of competitive alienation and domination for compassionate solidarity." (Pg. 201)
"Teilhard's thought would mesh well with the Gaia hypothesis." (Pg. 243)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Landmark Book 2 Dec. 2013
By Robert Humphrey - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although this book has been around a while, it is a landmark book on ecology and feminism and I plan to use it in a course on ecology to be called "God and Gaia: Towards a greener theology."
The content is good, this is a heavy read and requires focus 8 Sept. 2014
By ChaCha - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The content is good, this is a heavy read and requires focus. If you are not interested in this type of philosophy then it will bore you.
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