There are possibly no worse times to read a theologian such as Ephraim Radner than during a pandemic. Radner’s prose is simultaneously penetrating and demanding, bordering on the opaque at times, and for a parent working from home with two children, Radner offers no respite.
Writing about the Midwest is, as many have observed, the trite cliché which became a reality, and then a marketable commodity. With the American South as the possible competitor here, no other region of the United States is subject to as much bemusement and demeaning observations than the Midwest.
It is no secret that in many places the areas of science and technology are in high demand (or at least perceived by administrations as being so) and become the priorities for Christian universities. But, in the struggle to keep afloat and to offer new programs befitting an increasingly technocratic world, is there a place—even at Christian universities—for theology to be a topic of study for everyone? The opposition to executing this notion well are legion.
In teaching theology, one of my abiding concerns is not just that students gain a clearer understanding of the grammar of the Christian faith, but that they meet the manifold figures along the way who have shaped their thinking unbeknownst to them.
In Jonathan Lear’s book, he puts front and center the paradox of how a culture carries on when everything which has sustained it has crumbled away, or—in the case of the Crow people—been taken from it.
Hart’s argument is forceful, analytically clear, and compelling, in that it begins where theology should properly begin: with God. I offer this commendation of Hart’s work not as a commendation of his conclusions, for four reasons which remain unanswered, and to my mind, must be accounted for. The second part of this review discusses these concerns.