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Christianity and Literature 560 Oehlschlaeger’s pun in “Being Here” suggests not only Berry’s desire to be fully present to the world around him (to be here) but also to acknowledge the beings that are present to him (to see the Being that is here). Berry, like Thoreau and Frost before him, writes with an unwavering commitment to particular things as they are—a commitment to “the real as poetry,” as Oehlschlaeger calls it—rather than as they may be. Attempts to transform other beings into the means for another’s use is, of course, the danger of technology and total economy, which together tempt us to see all beings in terms of units of production or the mere “resources” of their ostensible proprietors. The poetic conceits of farming and marriage, which pervade Berry’s poems, dispel and redress this un-real vision of other beings, for the love that moves the spouse and the farmer is a love that must attend to the unique being of another. Oehlschlaeger finds in Berry’s vision the possibility of “the love of God evident in the risen Christ,” a love that “requires us to recognize our enemies are included in it,” resulting in the “reconciliation and peace” (242) that Berry’s career has stood on. Stephen Barnes University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Christian Theology and Tragedy: Theologians, Tragic Literature and Tragic Theory. Edited by Kevin Taylor and Giles Waller. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7546-6940-1. Pp. x + 259. $118.70. Atfirstglance,thisvolume’stitleseemsantithetical.“Surely,”wesay,“Christianity is the antithesis of tragedy; after all, the story of the cross has a Happy Ending!” To the contributors and editors of Christian Theology and Tragedy, however, such a reaction is both reductive and hopelessly inadequate to account for the tragic lived experience of humanity in a world where cruelty, genocide and indifference persist in spite—and sometimes because—of Christianity. In fact, the literary genre of tragedy provides ready access to the universality of human suffering that defies (or defiles) the Christian worldview. Editors Kevin Taylor and Giles Waller stress that this book is not about “religion” or “religious themes,” “but rather the broader theological insights that emerge from an engagement with tragedy” (9). Taylor and Waller have compiled a collection of essays by second-generation writersabouttheintersectionbetweentragedyandChristianity.(Thefirstgeneration, frequently cited by both editors and essayists, includes Donald MacKinnon, John Millbank, David Bentley Hart and Paul Janz, among others.) In the introduction, the editors assert that tragedy and Christianity are only incompatible if we consider the definitions of one or both terms inflexibly rigid. To regard tragedy as inevitably 561 Book Reviews “allied to pessimism” (to quote Arthur Miller from his 1949 essay “Tragedy and the Common Man”) is necessarily to exclude it from Christian promise or, worse, to accept a worldview which surrenders human agency in the face of evil. The very real suffering and cruelty represented by the cross require our attention. In his essay Waller remarks that “[tragedy] recalls us to the specificity of suffering, to the irreducible pain and loss suffered by the other, about which we are not ethically entitled to speculate in teleological terms” (107). While the essays in this book provide useful considerations of specific texts and theological writers, these admonitions lie at the heart of the argument in favor of linking tragedy and Christianity and should be the ultimate take-away for the reader. Taylor and Waller divide the volume into three parts: “Theology and Tragic Literature,”“TheologiansandTragedy,”and“TheologyEngagedwithTragicTheory.” As indicated by its heading, the first section analyzes specific literary texts using the theoretical writing of Hart, Janz, MacKinnon, et al. Part II discusses the way tragedy intersects with the work of twentieth-century theologians/philosophers. The third grouping of essays further considers the relationship between theology and tragic theory. The volume concludes with a call to action, of a sort, enjoining us to heed and respond to cries of suffering. Because MacKinnon’s work is so foundational for understanding the perspective of this collection it actually makes sense to begin one’s perusal with “Freedom, Fate and Sin in Donald MacKinnon’s Use of Tragedy” by Giles Waller. Waller...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 560-564
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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