Fragments of the Spirit: Nature, Violence, and the Renewal of Creation / Edition 1

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In Fragments of the Spirit, Mark Wallace proposes that the Spirit goes well beyond the conventional Christian understanding of the force that unites the Father and the Son in the Trinity. Wallace presents a new model of the Spirit, one that is based on the earth and centered on life.

The Spirit, writes Wallace, is the power that transforms and renews all forms of life. It is a natural force that heals the violence humans have done to nature and to one another.

In the Bible—whether it the Spirit depicted as the divine wind in Genesis or the dove in the Gospels—the Spirit reveals herself as a life-form who creates, sustains, and renews humans and nature as they work together. The Spirit, Wallace demonstrates, is able to forge unity among enemies and to bring opposites together, overcoming the differences that define personal and community life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wallace, a professor of religion at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, suggests that a new understanding of the Holy Spirit as a being that dwells within the world to transform the world may be the solution to problems of human violence and ecological catastrophe. In his first section, Wallace examines the characteristics of postmodern culture, including the loss of self and the death of metaphysics, as well as the ways in which traditional Christian readings of the Holy Spirit as a metaphysical, transcendent being fall short in the contemporary world. In his second section, Wallace explores the issues of nature, violence and evil as he builds his own model of the Holy Spirit as the being that restores wholeness to the natural world, heals the brokenness of humanity and fosters unity between humanity and nature. Wallace's provocative ideas are cast in beautiful lyric prose, and his brilliant readings of the Bible in concert with the theologies of Paul Ricoeur, Rene Girard and Sallie McFague render his book utterly convincing. (July)
Library Journal
In a brilliant tour de force of post-modern theory, traditional Christian theology, and contemporary metaphysics, Wallace (religion, Swarthmore Coll.) ponders the role of the Holy Spirit in a late modern culture characterized by the loss of God and fragmented by violence. Using the philosophies of Kierkegaard, Levinas, and others, Wallace first demonstrates the inadequacies of the conventional models of the Holy Spirit. He then goes on to construct his own model of the Spirit as a life-giving force dwelling within nature, which seeks to mend the brokenness of the human spirit and to foster partnership and healing between humankind and nature. An elegant meditation on ecology and the Spirit, Wallace's book is highly recommended for all libraries.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781563383823
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 1/1/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.03 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction 1
Ecological Penumatology 2
Outline of the Project 8
Part 1 Methodological Overtures
Chapter 1 Theology, Rhetoric, and Postmodernism 15
Writing the Spirit 15
Postmodern Presuppositions 20
Erasure of Self 22
Deprivileging of Metaphysics 25
Breakdown of Metanarratives 27
Revalorization of Nature 30
Failure of Theodicy 32
Conclusion 34
Chapter 2 Metaphysics, Neoempiricism, and the Possibility of Religious Belief 36
Should Theology Seek to Overcome Its Affinities with Metaphysics? 40
Transcendental Theology and the Quest for Certainty: Schubert Ogden 43
A Rhetorical Response 48
Private Truth and Strong Poets: Richard Rorty 54
A False Alternative 58
Conclusion 62
Chapter 3 Performative Truth and the Witness of the Spirit 63
The Spirit Is the Lamp of the Truth: I 66
Wittgenstein and Basic Beliefs 68
The Face in Levinas 76
The Spirit Is the Lamp of the Truth: II 80
A Kierkegaardian Caveat 82
Conclusion 86
Part 2 Toward a Life-Centered Theology of the Spirit
Chapter 4 The Spirit and Desire: Sacrificial Violence and Moral Insurgency 91
The Servile Will 92
Mimesis, Difference, Violence: Rene Girard's Analysis of Desire 95
Mediated Desire 96
Loss of Differences 97
Scapegoats, Racism, and AIDS 99
Double Valence of the Victim 104
Questions Concerning the Victimage Hypothesis 108
Alternative Theories of Interpretation: Paul Ricoeur and Jacques Derrida 111
Traces of the Spirit 118
A Corollary Notion of Difference: Michel Foucault's Analysis of Power 129
Conclusion 131
Chapter 5 The Spirit and Nature: The Wild Bird Who Heals 133
The Spirit as Life-Form 134
Sallie McFague and Christian Paganism 139
The Vinculum Caritatis in Creation 144
Composting Religion: Jusia Kristeva and Mary Douglas 148
"Spirit Is But Thinly and Plainly Clothed": John Muir's Wilderness Pneumatology 154
Job, Genesis, and the Promise of Biocentrism 158
Pilgrims or Stewards 162
Conclusion 168
Chapter 6 The Spirit and Evil: Eyeless in Gaza (Again) 171
Three Genres: Speculation, Narrative, Wisdom 173
Richard Swinburne and the Value of Moral Responsibility 176
The Problem of Gratuitous Evil 179
Ronald Thiemann and the God of Promise 182
The Other Face of God 187
Paul Ricoeur's Theodicy in a Practical Register 189
Is the Spirit Friend or Enemy? 198
Conclusion 206
Chapter 7 Prospects for Renewal 209
Biblical Portraiture 211
Final Suggestions 213
Truth as Inner Testimony 213
The Spirit and Boundary Crossing 214
Sojourner Ethic 220
Aporia of Biblical Faith 223
The Green Face of God 225
Index 229
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