Race and the Cosmos: An Invitation to View the World Differently

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Race and the Cosmos: An Invitation to View the World Differently. By Barbara A. Holmes. Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 2002. xvii + 188 pp. $20.00 (paper).

The subtitle of this book is veiy apropos. Barbara Holiness treatment of race and cosinology is unique. Much of what is written here is inspired and useful for a truly different approach to understanding race and issues of justice, especially within a cosmological framework.

Her writing style is at times deeply evocative and poetic, as when she recounts her own personal story of the civil rights inarches in Selma, Alabama:

All was well, until late; at night when the Klan rode. Kicking up dust, they tore through the church parking lot shouting obscenities and shooting guns into the air. At that time, the troops seemed far too far away. In response, the men sat outside in their undershirts and formed a shield of sheer resolve. The women reassured us and sat just inside of the church doors its a second line of defense, with their church fans and potato salad spoons gripped in purposeful hands. When the sun finally came up, we were glad. In the morning we marched (p. 32).

However, I did find the chapters in the book of uneven quality. Chapter 4, especially, on indigenous cosmologies, seems feeble when compared to the rest of the book. Whereas the rest of the book seems well balanced, not tilting either at conservative or liberal ideologies, this chapter seems to throw all to the winds, completely redefining science as anything that has appeared in ancient cultures that pertains to cosmology, regardless of how unscientific those cosmologies really are. Although some of the material in this chapter was interesting, the author ultimately did not convince me that studying it (or scientific or cosmological gleanings was at all worthwhile.

The thesis of the author throughout this book is stated in many ways, but never so clearly as in chapter 4: "We are finding through our telescopes and mathematical formulations that life is neither linear nor progressive, and it certainly isn't hierarchical. Tt is chaotic, unpredictable, and stunning in its creative complexities. 'Objectivity' in its modernist form is a fallen house of cards" (p. 8S). Although there is some truth in this and many of her statements, she seems to fail to understand that science and cosmology, the study oi the cosmos, is predicated on the predictability and orderliness that she decries. …