If there were one book, in addition to the Bible, to require of every student of Christian theology, it would be Gaia & God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing. Rosemary Radford Ruether does not provide a complete theological program for human relations to the biosphere, but she does address the alarming crisis of our age with a prophetic vigor and an intellectual rigor reminiscent of Karl Barth's Romans, written for a world bloodied by World War I.
Her task is to help those raised in the Christian tradition to face unflinchingly the need to rescue life on this planet from imminent ecological catastrophe. "Unflinchingly" is the operative word here, not only because the dangers directly ahead of us are difficult to contemplate, but because our faith tradition is deeply implicated in the oppressive values and structures that have now led civilization and its natural environments to the brink of disaster.
Ruether does not ask us to turn away from Christian faith or Western culture. She asks something more difficult: a rigorous reappraisal of biblical foundations, Christian tradition, and contemporary society in the face of looming ecological crisis. And she offers, as a tool to shed light on the task, a matured feminist perspective.
Ruether is not only a prophetic voice, she is also a judgmental thinker with a reputation for not suffering foolish ideas gladly. Writers with such gifts often produce books that abuse rather than edify the reader. That is not so here. Of the many fine attributes of this book, perhaps the most remarkable is the thorough yet careful use of judgment. As she ranges over many fields of inquiry, Ruether's judgments are nuanced, balanced, and illuminating.