The spatial turn in planetary theologies: Ambiguity, hope and ethical imposters Book Chapter

Bauman, WA. (2015). The spatial turn in planetary theologies: Ambiguity, hope and ethical imposters . 115-127. 10.1007/978-94-017-9376-6_5

cited authors

  • Bauman, WA



  • Recent language in environmental philosophy, environmental ethics and religion and ecology focus on such tropes as an ‘ecology without nature’ (Morton), a ‘virtue of ignorance’ (Vitek & Jackson) and a ‘theology without nature’ (Albertson & King). There is a move in philosophy of science towards event-based and emergent understandings of reality that is neither dualistic nor monistic; it is being referred to as a ‘new materialism’ (Bennett, Coole, Stengers). The idea of a planetary imagination (Moore and Rivera) has been opposed to that of the global imagination as one that connects through diversity rather than forcing all diversity into some common sameness. These shifts in theology represent the turn toward spatial thinking that begins with Nietzsche’s ‘Death of God’ and finds its way into contemporary eco-theologies and post-colonial theologies. I explore the tension of living in these in-between, ambiguous places and argue that the tools of planetary theology can provide at least three resources for dealing with these times of transition (Tweed). First, planetary theology provides tools for dealing with the fears associated with ambiguity that are not based on ignoring current contexts (denial) or responding with hate (violence). Second, it suggests that the opposite of hope is not despair, but certainty. Despair can be a healthy part of living when responding to terror and violence. Third, it emphasizes humility and love of ‘others,’ which are necessary motivations given the reality that we are always-already hypocrites when we act in the world. Ethical ambiguity helps us uncover the ways in which we benefit from the destructive processes of globalization even as we move toward visions of a ‘better’ planetary community

publication date

  • January 1, 2015

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) 13

start page

  • 115

end page

  • 127