cover image Hell: In Search of a Christian Ecology

Hell: In Search of a Christian Ecology

Timothy Morton. Columbia Univ, $26.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-231-21471-1

Rice University English professor Morton (The Stuff of Life) presents an erudite theological meditation on the ecological “hell” into which the world has descended. According to the author, humans were created to be blessed inhabitants of Eden, “entwined with... oxygen breathed from leaves and birdsong.” Yet, unaware of their blessedness due to the “foundational error” of “original sin,” humans have fallen prey to fascism; “settler-colonial Christianity,” which paves the way for corporations that harm the earth; and a “toxic theism” that holds sway on social media, undermining faith in science and social institutions. Morton draws loosely on the notion of Christian mercy and the “liberation phenomenology of African American Christianity” to counteract the judgmental ethos of “revenge-based environmentalism,” though what this new model might look like in practice never quite comes into focus. Instead, a mystical meditation on the author’s 2023 return to Christianity after years spent practicing Buddhism adds a final twist to an account whose tendency toward ambiguity and paradox makes for challenging reading. Still, persistent readers will find insights into the ways religion shapes conceptions of science and the self. (May)