Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

On the Mystery: Discerning God in Process

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

On the Mystery: Discerning God in Process

Article excerpt

On the Mystery: Discerning God in Process. By Catherine Keller. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2008. xv + 208 pp. $16 (paper).

This most recent book by Catherine Keller offers an accessible, engaging introduction to her relational perspective and to process theology. It will be useful as an introductory text for a broad readership in both academic and parish settings. Keller's argument is informed by her commitment to relationality, here an antidote to the relativism associated with pluralism (p. 21). She describes a third alternative to the "binary alternatives" of "the absolute and the dissolute" (p. 2). On the Mystery also effectively opens up the re/thinking of common theological language and presuppositions that is characteristic of Keller's work. Resonant with Keller's long-time focus on apocalypse, the book is organized into seven chapters, each thematically tied to one of seven "signs," in each of which she finds "a positive third way" (p. 159).

Readers will find here what is most intriguing as well as (arguably) exasperating about Keller's work. She largely avoids the broader theological debate about process theology, softening her potentially partisan tone, but some readers will object to her sweeping assertions about the relative value of process thought, including her equation of process theology with "theology in process" (pp. 22-23). Characteristically, Keller draws on a wide range of sources: Whitehead and Cobb, predictably, but also Hadewijch, Barth, Cone, and Augustine, with significant attention to Ambrose (pp. 45-47) and Calvin (pp. 76-79), among others. From the political sphere, she draws on Thomas Jefferson, as well as both George Bushes.

Keller, a consummate storyteller, laces her work with personal narrative. On the Mystery memorably opens with two anecdotes. In the first, Keller is taken for a walk by her five-year-old niece, who dramatically proclaims, "Come this way, Catherine," proffering objects for her aunt's examination: " 'What are we looking for, Jennifer?' "We're on the mystery! …

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