cover image When Time Is Short: Finding Our Way in the Anthropocene

When Time Is Short: Finding Our Way in the Anthropocene

Timothy Beal. Beacon, $23.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-8070-9000-8

“What if it’s already too late” to prevent ecological apocalypse? Beal (Religion and Its Monsters), a religion professor at Case Western Reserve University, explores this question and deconstructs human exceptionalism in this pensive treatise. The theological belief that humanity is set apart from nature, Beal argues, has held the species back from taking seriously the possibility that it will one day cease to exist. Out of insecurity about “all-too-human unexceptionalness,” people have subjected nature to dominion and exploited it through capitalism. Beal revisits the biblical narratives often used to justify human exceptionalism and exhumes an alternative “biblical aboriginal” reading that emphasizes creatureliness, subsistence, and humility. Rather than transcendence, Beal encourages “subscendence,” an embrace of humanity’s interdependent place within nature. The author also urges readers to confront climate injustice and grieve ecological loss so that they might learn to “live with necessary pain and suffering” and find hope despite impending disaster. The novel exegesis and a nature-first perspective make for an original Christian take on climate change, and Beal’s reflections on mortality and extinction are powerful and moving (“What matters most when time becomes short is always what matters most”). Touching and sagacious, this elegiac meditation will enlighten. (May)