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Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  81 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
For millennia plant and animal species have received little sustained attention as subjects of Christian theology and ethics in their own right. Focused on the human dilemma of sin and redemptive grace, theology has considered the doctrine of creation to be mainly an overture to the main drama of human being`s relationship to God. What value does the natural world have ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 13th 2014 by Bloomsbury Continuum (first published January 1st 2014)
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Veronica Dale
Apr 06, 2015 Veronica Dale rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, spiritual
This is not a book to be tripped through lightly, but needs to be savored and digested. As one who usually gobbles down novels, I was able to read only a few pages at a time. But it was worth it. The author is a Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University and her book is full of wisdom and poetry.

The only other book I’ve underlined so much of is Rosemary Haughton’s The Passionate God. Like that book, Ask the Beasts was constantly presenting me with startlingly new thoughts. Johnson
Aug 07, 2014 Arthur rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book to read surrounded by the wilderness. I read most of it on the porch of my Maine cabin.
Many of my friends might find it surprising that I would so enjoy and be educated by a book synthesizing Darwinian evolution and Biblical/Christian theology - one written by a Catholic nun who has often been at odds with the Church's hierarchy.
I have read considerable Chardin, another Catholic who explored the same areas decades ago.
Sr. Elizabeth Johnson's fine literary style enhances
Sep 06, 2014 Greg rated it it was amazing
A Review:
Elizabeth Johnson’s “Ask the Beasts:
Darwin and the God of Love”
By Greg Cusack
September 6, 2014

The author is the theologian whom the Catholic bishops of this country castigated last year for an earlier work – Quest for the Living God – in which they said she had strayed into dangerous territory. It turns out, they had not actually read the book but were relying upon the opinion of others! Such is the sad state of ecclesiastic “authority” in the Catholic Church these days.
Johnson’s Ask
Oct 17, 2016 Darleen rated it really liked it
Excellent discussion of Darwin, evolution, and Catholic theology. The most powerful words for me are on pp. 258-9: "We need a deep spiritual conversion to the Earth." Such a conversion must be intellectual, emotional, and ethical. "In sum, ecological conversion means falling in love with the earth as an inherently valuable, living community in which we participate, and bending every effort to be creatively faithful to its well-being, in tune with the living God who brought it into being and ...more
Nov 04, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love is a beautifully written book on seeing God in all of creation. One of, if not the most important, arguments put forth by Sr. Elizabeth, is how Christians/Christianity has dropped the proverbial ball on the theology of human dominion over creation. "The future of the tree of life is now at the mercy of human decision and indecision. If ever there was a sign of the times to be interpreted theologically in light of the living God who creates and redeems, ...more
Michelle Marvin
Oct 22, 2014 Michelle Marvin rated it really liked it
I wish I could give this 4.5 stars... I reserve 5 for my absolute favorites, but this book is truly excellent. Johnson does an especially wonderful job of making Darwin's Origin of the Species accessible to theological dialogue. She argues persuasively for ecological stewardship. Sometimes her theology becomes a little bit too large - sweeping for the coherence of her argument, but all the same she does honor to the Christian understanding of creation, as revealed both scientifically and ...more
Jul 03, 2015 Darceylaine rated it it was amazing
Really stunning. It is still changing and stretching my thinking about the nature of the divine indwelling in nature. She is such a great thinker, and explains every inch of her reasoned journey in an accessible way. A much needed work to connect contemporary theology and science
Mar 26, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing
While I disagree with some of her theology, Johnson makes a beautiful case for a relational understanding of creation. This relationship critiques human disregard for how our actions harm the rest of creation and, ultimately, ourselves.
Miguel Panão
May 11, 2014 Miguel Panão rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book and it is exhaustively detailed in what concerns Darwin's work. However, I would expect a greater synthesis between such science and theological reasoning. Relatively to other authors, such as Denis Edwards, John Haught, I didn't sensed the novelty I was expecting.
Anthony Parisi
May 23, 2016 Anthony Parisi rated it it was amazing
Wow, how I wish there was so much more of this kind of work being done. A rich, even devotional exposition of both scripture and the natural world with a powerful theological call to address the ecological crisis of our time.
Oct 17, 2014 Lynschott rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, thought provoking, Elizabeth Johnson puts into words what was always in my heart. She also impresses the importance of including a theology of creation in our religious institutions.
Sep 02, 2014 Naomi rated it really liked it
A clear and cogent christian argument of ecotheology, recommended for those who wonder about our calling for care of this earth and how to work with science from a christian perspective.
Jackie O'Sullivan
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May 25, 2015
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Ted Anderson
Dec 09, 2014 Ted Anderson rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written book. Enlightening, informative, and inspiring.
Bryan Hanger
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Johnson grew up in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of seven children in an "Irish Catholic family." As a young adult she joined the religious order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph whose motherhouse is in Brentwood, Long island, NY. She received a B.S. from Brentwood College in 1964, an M.A. from Manhattan College in 1964.

1981, she became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in theology at the Catholic Un
More about Elizabeth A. Johnson...

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“That all species are related in the flow of life and death is a keystone of evolutionary theory. The grandeur displayed in this view of life is ecological in character.” 1 likes
“Matter can transcend itself at any moment in bringing forth life and ever new forms of species. This idea, Rahner suggests, is the secret of life. It offers one more intellectual explanation that supports belief in God as Creator while appreciating science’s finding that matter has evolved in the direction of life and then consciousness under its own steam. Nature’s capacity for active self-transcendence is the key. In the realm of biological evolution, natural selection’s work on spontaneously arising variations gets that key turning to throw open the door to ever-new forms of life. Novelty comes about by the self-organizing dynamism inherent in creatures themselves. Evolution over deep time is so creative because the material of the world itself has the God-given inner ability to become ever more.” 0 likes
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