The Insurgency of the Spirit is an incredibly insightful animist and shamanistic reading of the biblical Jesus tradition against the backdrop of the anti-ecological and anti-queer theologies and politics of the late capitalist West. This dialogue between past and present-between the sacred wildlands of the Bible and the toxic landscapes of neoliberal America-opened to me the power of the biblical imaginary to tear down today's regnant settler colonialist order.
In an Age of Eco-Apocalypse-the "dark night of the Earth," to quote the author's use of Steven Chase's paraphrase of St. John of the Cross-the author's achievement is based on two recurring commitments: strong methodological underpinnings, including post-colonial biblical scholarship, critical gender theory, liberation theology, and new indigenous studies; and careful attention to the wide range of contemporary movements and issues that shape the author's liberatory retrieval of the animist Jesus-e.g., from rights of nature jurisprudence to restoration of tribal lands and from contemporary trauma theory to earth-based meditation and healing practices.
This book is an exciting Christian animist theology of resistance and insurrection against the forces of fossil fuels extraction and governmental control that define our historical epoch, the Anthropocene. Now aligned with violence and empire, the author argues that regnant Christianity has effaced its ecological, pastoral origins in favor of an alliance with corrupting political institutions that stretches over two millennia. He uncovers the origins of the Jesus movement in nomadic gift economies, solidary with the poor, animist love of biotic communities, and resistance to imperial power. Today this green Jesus movement lives on, inside and outside of the churches, in non-violent opposition to what Walter Wink calls the domination system. Beautifully written and persuasively argued, the book will elucidate for readers Christianity's true beginnings, its historic wrong turns, and provide a road map for a sustainable future that has the potential to be personally and politically transformative. -- Mark I. Wallace, Swarthmore College Nobody knows what ways might emerge for the religions of the world as they gradually recognize themselves in other traditions and eventually see themselves in the world. But this much seems certain. Compassion for the other-than-human will wellspring from all spiritualities as we go forward...or we will not go forward. As Christianity bends back towards its inherent compassionate cosmology, The Insurgency of Spirit points toward contemplative pathways for reanimating evangelization. This is a welcome vade mecum ("walk with me")for those on the way. -- John Grim, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Yale Divinity School In The Insurgency of the Spirit: Jesus's Liberation Animist Spirituality, Empire, and Creating Christian Protectors, Shore-Goss writes with passion and intellectual depth in addition to which the range of engagement in this book is astounding. In this electrifying text he draws the reader into a reanimated world and asks them to remain there. Shore-Goss is clear from the start, he says, 'wilderness forms a geographical, cultural, spiritual, and eco-theological symbolics for this book' and this opens the way for the untamed eco-theology that follows.
While this book dwells in the wild/ernes and the animist it is also firmly grounded in the person of Jesus and this gives it the unique quality that calls out to people to read it. The central character in Christianity is re-read through wild eyes and found to be larger and more compassionately inclusive than traditionally thought. This 'green Jesus' for Shore-Goss is no simple tree hugger or prophet who begs people to take care of their environment but rather one who gathers the forces of nature in a revolution against all that would make life and all the living denuded through the rupture of interrelatedness across species and all the natural world.
Shore-Goss calls for an animist revolution as the place where the healing of the planet and all its inhabitants lies. This call is embedded in scripture and the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the one who lived in a certain landscape both political and natural and used that landscape to declare a revolution through words and the use of everyday food- bread and wine, which in this story become symbols of an open table as well as radical economics and politics. Shore-Goss is not the first to suggest that the use of bread and wine and the symbols of Eucharist call for radical politics and particularly economics but his use is welcome and eco-based. The land he tells us is generous and of itself gives freely, further the earth itself provides us with solutions to climate change if only we would remain intimately connected to it. The earth gives freely of wind, water and sun all of which offer solutions to the fuel crisis, there is no need to ripe at the belly of Mother Earth to extract fossil fuels.
This book offers a radical way to read scripture and to view Jesus and from this starting point to begin the decolonizing of the earth and to turn on its head the centuries of dominance over the earth and its inhabitants that a traditional reading of Christianity has led to. After reading this book it is not possible to demand of the earth but rather to wonder what the earth wants from us. For Shore-Goss and his conversation partners the answer is clear, for the earth to be healed and flourish it must be emancipated from the deadening demands of capitalism. God bless the revolution!!! -- Lisa Isherwood, Emerita, University of Winchester, UK Robert E. Shore-Goss has continually been at the forefront of expanding the theological imagination of our time. The Insurgency of theSpirit is no exception. In a time of climate change, that desperately demands a liberative, anti-colonial ethic and a vision to lead us out of ecological peril, Shore-Goss delivers. He has a gift for both critically and appreciatively engaging complex intellectual histories and debates so that they can become relevant and prescient for the moment. Read this book and allow him to challenge and broaden your perception of the theological landscape before us. -- Brooks Berndt, Minister of Environmental Justice and Convener of the Environmental Justice Council of the United Church of Christ Timely and provocative, this anti-imperial, animist, and comparative theology distills wisdom from Christianity, indigenous traditions, and Buddhism to offer vision and hope in facing climate disaster. No one will look at Jesus in the same old anthropocentric way after reading this book. I highly recommend it for faculty and students, religious leaders, and activists. -- Kwok Pui-lan, Dean's Professor of Systematic Theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and author of Postcolonial Imagination & Feminist Theology