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Apocalypse Now and Then: Feminist Guide to the End of the World Paperback – 1 Nov 1997


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Synopsis

Feminist theologian Catherine Keller offers an interpretation of the effects of the Christian prophecy of the Apocalypse on Western history and thought. Embracing a broad range of learned disciplines, Keller traces the effects of apocalyptic thinking on movements, such as colonialism, urbanization and the current environmental crisis. Throughout, she constructs a counter-apocalypse that neither abdicates the prophetic passion for justice nor surrenders to the doom-directed paradigm of the apocalyptic habit.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9da4abc4) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d979c00) out of 5 stars Apocalyptic Brilliance 15 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you'll only ever buy one book on apocalypse and apocalyptic phenomena, this is the one. A brilliant theological investigation in how the Western world, and especially the U.S. has been shaped, molded and thought through the storylines of John of Patmos' 'revolting revelations'. Keller's reading employs (among other) feminist and poststructuaralist perspectives to a biblical text that can neither be completely dismissed nor entirely embraced. Instead she argues for a 'counterapocalyptic' approach that avoids the closures of either a 'straightforward apocalypse' or an 'anti-apocalypse.' This is a powerful, exciting, astonishingly honest, thoughtful and brilliant text well worth the work it takes to grapple with its poetic cadences.
A text from a most powerful contemporary theological voice, who is also a singularly inventive, smart and witty writer.
Oh, and lest you think there is no need to read a book on apocalypse after we made it into 2000, this book will convince you that the influence and impact of apocalyptic thinking is far stronger, deeper and more subtle than much of the hullabaloo about 'the end is near' might make you think. This book lays bare some of the foundational ideas of the Western world without which our world would not be what it is. At times a tough read, but worth every effort.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dd80474) out of 5 stars Opening the Male Box 9 Dec. 2005
By Carol Luther - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the book that changed my life forever. I read it many years ago, and it continues to reverberate in my theological practice. Apocalypse means "unveiling." As Keller says, this was the verb of the groom unveiling his bride. The next thing we know, that same groom is tearing open the earth for weatlth and pleasure. Thus economic development is revealed in the dark light of pillage. I have never read such an eloquent plea for the earth and her creatures, the earth itself as the Body of Christ. The book reads like a dream, revelatory, deconstructing the strictures of linear thinking to show its underlying chaos and self-interest. As a result of reading this, I began to do theology as dreamwork, an idea that Keller herself takes up in more recent writings, notably God and Power.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dfe5168) out of 5 stars Hard read, but has value. 5 Dec. 2006
By J. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Reading Catherine Keller's Apocalypse Now and Then often reminded me of what it is like to read something in a language in which I am not proficient. What was different about this experience is that the book is written in English, my native language. Despite the convenience of reading a text in a language in which I am familiar, I was unable to understand much of what Keller was talking about. There seemed to be no concrete topic in her paragraphs, and the section breaks made no sense. Often the information in the beginning of one section was a direct continuation of the content of the previous section, despite a large printed number and several line spaces separating the sections. There was more continuity between sentences from one section to the next than there was within the sections themselves. I was left repeatedly with the same question, "What are you talking about?"

When I first prepared to read Apocalypse Now and Then, I was excited to get into the material. I anticipated work similar to other feminist writers I have enjoyed such as, Elizabeth Johnson, Carol Christ, Nancy Howell and Penelope Washbourn. I have no way to compare Keller's work to these or any other scholars because of my inability to break thorough the barrier I encountered when reading the text.

I will admit that the very phrase "end times" associated with apocalyptic literature is a good place to start when discussing what I did appreciate about "Apocalypse Now and Then." Despite my feeling moderately illiterate as a result of reading Keller, I feel the experience was worth the attempt I made because of the content in the preface regarding eschatos. Keller notes that her book, "does take place within such a spiritual boundary... a horizon that always recedes again into a `not yet' that `already is,' or is nothing at all (xiii)." Though I am not sure what Keller means to say by this, I came to think of eschatology or apocalypse as a continuous cycle similar to her use of metaphor of the horizon. I had thought that it was her intention to depict apocalypse in this way, but when I came back to it I was unable to find her statement how I remembered it. Regardless, I know see that we are always a part of the end times as well as the rebirth. Whether temporally, or physiologically, we are in a constant state of change. As one moment in time, or one arrangement of physical structure, the world as it was dies for a moment, as a new world is born. This new world is quite like the old, and similar to the next, but unique to itself, never to be repeated.

This is somewhat illustrated in Keller's description of how the Spirit works to reveal truth through texts from the Bible. As one reads, in this case the book of Revelation, one is moved only in the way or to the degree that one can see the meaning of the text in that moment in time. "The pneumatic reading I have undertaken of Revelation's text and of its extrabiblical effects assumes, however, that the Bible never has been and never can be insulated from its surrounding lifeworlds (287)." One cannot take oneself out of the interpretation of the text, especially if one recognizes any aspect of a spiritual component to life. Understanding can only be understood from that exact temporal and physical location from which one experiences the text. It is through this experience that the Spirit enters into the formula. It is through the relational experience of engaging the text that we know the Spirit (285).

Despite the limitations to my ability to read Apocalypse Now and Then with confidence, there are a few other points in the book that caught my attention. I found it curious that Keller's description of the literary form of the apocalyptic did not discuss the context of the genera. Much of apocalyptic literature was a form of political writing in which an author would criticize the current context in a future fictional setting. This allowed the author to write harsh criticisms of a political system or society, while maintaining a distance from the true subject as a result of the fictionalization of events in a future context. This provided protection from authorities, who would have ample justification for retaliation should the criticisms be literal or unhidden. This has hardly anything to do with the end things as described by Keller. Instead Keller associates the apocalyptic as a literary genre with the eschatological mythology of Zoroastranism (21). Keller implies that those seeking social justice and political change have at times used apocalyptic literature as inspiration or justification, but the possibility that the book of Revelation was intended to be an immediate tool for such action is not explored (as far as I understood Keller's intentions).

One aspect of Apocalypse Now and Then that I appreciated was Keller's description of an ebb and flow in the willingness of individuals to participate in actions geared towards social change. With our tendency to want that victory over evil that we associate with our underlying understanding of the end, we desire for all of our actions to result in the final cessation of all that causes pain and suffering in our world. When faced with the reality that despite our efforts, there is always going to be pain and suffering, social, political, and religious participation may seem pointless (14). The mode of change is beyond us, why try?

The resolution to this dilemma is illustrated in Keller's story of her second trip to El Salvador. Marta Benevides is said to be a woman who works with the people of El Salvador, trying to make life better. She approaches her work not as a movement towards a time when the work is done, but as a way of life. She says she is being rather than struggling, and instead of fighting for change, she lives the way (280). If we think back to the horizon that always recedes again, we see how Marta Benevides maintains her way of life. Only when we recognize that this is the apocalypse, the process that is the end of the old and the beginning of the new, will we be able to fully participate in the moment. We will be able to live the way, as Marta Benevides puts it. When we stop preparing for what is to come, and live what is, we will shed the burden of waiting for a judgment. Whether we see the judgment as an event that will justify us or liberate us, it keeps us from fully participating in what is in this moment.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d9a6960) out of 5 stars Apocalyptic Brilliance 15 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you'll only ever buy one book on apocalypse and apocalyptic phenomena, this is the one. A brilliant theological investigation in how the Western world, and especially the U.S. has been shaped, molded and thought through the storylines of John of Patmos' 'revolting revelations'. Keller's reading employs (among other) feminist and poststructuaralist perspectives to a biblical text that can neither be completely dismissed nor entirely embraced. Instead she argues for a 'counterapocalyptic' approach that avoids the closures of either a 'straightforward apocalypse' or an 'anti-apocalypse.' This is a powerful, exciting, astonishingly honest, thoughtful and brilliant text well worth the work it takes to grapple with its poetic cadences.
A text from a most powerful contemporary theological voice, who is also a singularly inventive, smart and witty writer.
Oh, and lest you think there is no need to read a book on apocalypse after we made it into 2000, this book will convince you that the influence and impact of apocalyptic thinking is far stronger, deeper and more subtle than much of the hullabaloo about 'the end is near' might make you think. This book lays bare some of the foundational ideas of the Western world without which our world would not be what it is. At times a tough read, but worth every effort.
7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9de347e0) out of 5 stars Virtually inaccessible 21 Oct. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm certain that, buried somewhere deep in her convoluted prose, Keller has important and profound understandings to share about the nature of apocalypse. Unfortunately, this text is written in the language of a person so immersed in academia that she has forgotten how to communicate clearly and concisely to those outside of the world of research journals and symposiums. Keller's approach is to say in a paragraph what could be said in a sentence and to write with such a vocabulary that most readers will need to keep a dictionary close at hand just to decipher what she is trying to say.
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