This is a wonderful collection of women’s voices around the globe who deal with climate change and gender justice.
Planetary Solidarity: Global Women’s Voices on Christian Doctrine and Climate Justice
Editor(s):Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Hilda P. Koster
Minneapolis, MN : Fortress Press, September 2017. 392 pages. $79.00. Hardcover. ISBN 9781506432625.
Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Hilda P. Koster have identified an urgent need for ecofeminist theologians to “reimagine church doctrine” (15) and to use those reimaginings to promote “planetary solidarity.” Taken as a whole, Planetary Solidarity provides a sustained challenge to paternalistic, anthropocentric Christian traditions, aiming to listen to historically silenced voices and to redress entrenched misinterpretations of foundational theological texts. Kim and Koster and their contributors seek “to take forward the struggle for gender justice in our society and churches in solidarity with justice struggles in our wider world” (6). As a non-Christian scholar whose work is not theologically oriented, much of this volume was beyond my own disciplinary ambit and personal beliefs. Nonetheless, I found provocative, thoughtful scholarship and eye-opening case studies in each chapter.
Much of the book relies on textured, historically-situated readings of the texts, myths, and legends that have informed global Christian traditions. The chapters focus on case studies, interviews, and stories about women and allies whose lived practices demonstrate the reimagined Christian doctrines for which this volume advocates and that advance efforts for climate justice globally. Rosemary P. Carbine holds up the actions of Plowshares activists and US-based nuns to show that “by seeking to realize the kin-dom of God, they did not coerce conformity to Christianity and thereby eschew religious pluralism” (64) but rather encouraged solidarity with a plurality of human and nonhuman others. Koster highlights the abuses of power common to both sex trafficking and fracking in North Dakota, arguing that a revision of the doctrine of sin—by resisting the centuries-old location of sin in feminine sexuality and the labeling of the prostitute as the archetypal sinner—can help both Christians and non-Christians decolonize the help they are giving to native communities who face the structural commodification of land and women’s bodies (156-57). Barbara R. Rossing uses historical knowledge and philological research to show that the Hebrew word often translated as “world” in the New Testament would be better translated as “empire,” a shift that reflects the New Testament’s historical situation as a record of early Christians’ political struggles against Roman authorities. The word “salvation,” Rossing contends, through its Greek roots, emphasizes healing instead of destruction. Her methodology addresses the “need to broaden our [Christian] images of justice and judgment to foreground scenes of judgment that can address structural sin” (346).
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About the Reviewer(s): Dyani Johns Taff is Lecturer in English at Ithaca College.
Date of Review: September 22, 2018
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s):
Grace Ji-Sun Kim is associate professor of theology at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond Indiana. She publishes on climate justice, gender justice and constructive theology. Among her most recent publications are Embracing the Other (2015), Mother Daughter Speak (2017) and Intercultural Ministry (2017). She is the coeditor of a book series, Asian Christianity in the Diaspora.
Hilda P. Koster is associate professor of religion at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. She publishes on climate change, gender, and ecological theology and is the coeditor of The Gift of Theology: The Contribution of Kathryn Tanner to Contemporary Theology (Fortress Press, 2015)