, , , , , , ,

This is a book review of my book, Planetary Solidarity: Global Women’s Voices on Christian Doctrine and Climate Justice, co-edited with Dr. Hilda Koster. It appears in the Asian American Theological Forum and is reviewed by Junil Kim.

Planetary Solidarity: Global Women’s Voices on Christian Doctrine and Climate Justice

The term, Climate Justice, comes from the premise that climate change, or global warming in narrow sense, has real impact on the entire planet. In terms of matter of climate justice and injustice, the problematic structure of reality is that, simply speaking, the wealthier on the earth pollute and the poorer suffer. This kind of disparity is prevalent in this age of climate change.Pope Francis’s call to Laudato Si’, highlighting the need for climate justice, is an attempt to integrate justice issue and environmental matter. Thus, climate justice connotes that climate change is a matter of “moral, political, sociological, and religious concern” (2) as well as an environmental concern. In this respect, Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Hilda Koster, the co-editors of Planetary Solidarity, stress gender considerations in thinking about the intersectionality between climate and gender issues.

Editors of Planetary Solidarity state that the main purpose of this book is “to reimagine [Christian] church doctrine toward global gender justice in light of climate change,” that can contribute to overcoming traditional notions of God and doctrines perpetuating “the idea of domination, subordination, and subjugation” (15) by raising “questions of climate justice and gender intersect with those of class, race, and ethnicity, which are prevalent in both the Global South and North” (4).This volume, following the series of Reimagining with Christian Doctrine: Responding to Global Gender Injustices (2014) and Christian Doctrines for Global Gender justice, both of which were edited by Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Jenny Daggers, seek to find answers “how Christian doctrine may be put to work toward both gender and climate justice” (6).

For these editors, Christian doctrines have been inclined to masculine and patriarchal framework stressing domination over the Earth and, in turn, have reinforced “colonialism, patriarchy, climate change, racism, and other injustices” (5).The authors of this book criticize these masculine and patriarchal notions of doctrine and find a new way “to open up fresh possibilities for life together – with one another and with the Earth” (5) by reworking and reimagining the Christian doctrines in harmony with climate and gender justice. Accordingly, this book involves various women theologians and their own theological insights on the issues of gender and climate justice in relation to their contextual understanding and interpretation of Christian doctrines.

This book consists of two parts: Part one deals with how to reimagine the theological framework orienting toward planetary solidarity. Heather Eaton in Chapter 1 deals with the concept of planetary solidarity based on human vulnerability, mortality, and finitude. Recognizing these finite conditions of life is crucial for construct earth-centric theological ground (43-44). Chapters 2 – 4 show diverse reflective voices on Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’ from their contextual theological insights.

Part two involves chapters discussing a particular doctrine based on the intersection of climate and gender justice. The major doctrines dealt with in this part are: God, Creation, Humanity (Ch. 5-6); Sin and Evil (Ch.7-8); Incarnation (Ch.9-10); Cross and Salvation (Ch.11-12); Spirit (Ch. 13-14); Mary and the Church (Ch.15-16); and Hope and Eschatology (Ch.17-18). Through each theologian’s hermeneutical tool for “critical retrieval, reformation, and reconstruction” (5), each chapter suggests creative theological reimagination of a specific Christian doctrine aiming at climate and gender justice.The main theme of this book is its title planetary solidarity. By planetary authors mean the interconnected system of life including all creatures and their diversity and complexity in conversation with Christian theology of creation (23; 30).

This notion pursues forming life-centered earth community without ignoring the vulnerable and finite conditions for life. As Nancy Pineda-Madrid insightfully states, “understanding of our place in the community of creatures and in the cosmos” (324) is required for forming planetary solidarity. In terms of solidarity, authors define it as a foundation for praxis that attending both to gender and climate justice and to “differences in suffering while extending preferential treatment to those who suffer more” (7). This notion of planetary solidarity connotes the interconnectivity and diversity in discourse of working toward gender and climate justice.

What I most appreciate in this volume is that there are various agentive voices from women theologians, sometimes paradoxical and metaphoric, and theological notions in terms of finding the way to overcome male-centric structure in theology as well as in reality of climate and gender injustice. By forming the idea of planetary solidarity, the authors aim for embracing the diversity and difference in reconstructing and reimagining Christian doctrines for achieving gender justice and climate justice as well. Through this paradoxical notion of planetary solidarity, this book aims at compatibility of diversity and universality in reconstruction of life-giving, earth-centered, just and inclusive theology through the dialogue with the given men’s theological voices.

Junil Kim, PhD CandidateGarrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary