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Hell

In Search of a Christian Ecology

Timothy Morton

A Review
By Frank A. Mills

June 9.2024
Hell Cover

Hell: In Search of a Christian Ecology, Timothy Morton. (May, 2024, Columbia University Press). ISNB: 9780231214711, Paperback. 257 pages including bibliographical Endnotes and Index.

Hell! It’s real. And it isn’t and afterlife abode.

It’s here, in the here and now.

And getting “saved” isn’t going to make it go away, although a “born again” experience might just do it.

Drawing from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Timothy Morton takes us on a Blakean journey of “mental fight” in search of a Christian Ecology for Hell. He takes us into a Hell far beyond whatever horrors the fantasmagoric mind of Blake could ever conjure up. The journey flips our understanding of Hell. And it is in that flip that we find our way beyond Hell, or perhaps in the spirit of Balke, heaven and hell become married.

And even that in itself is a double-sided coin. Hell is not some theological construct. Hell is the marriage of Trump. Male Ego, Christian Nationalism, Self-Serving Politics, and Corporate Greed. And this is burning—burning our own humanity, literally burning our world.

The other side, a metaphorical marriage between Heaven and Hell (in the Hell is what we have ecologically become) that mystically unites – marries – ecological politics with the grace and mercy of authentic Christianity. A “marriage” that in the courtship encountered and counter race and gender. It is a marriage birth in and sustained by Love.

Although “In Search of a Christian Ecology, the title is best read as “Hell in search of a Christian Ecology.” For that is what this book really is.

Like all marriages, it is a journey, but in this journey, as Morton portrays it, it is a journey in which we become, as he puts it, aware of “A world without ends.” It is a world beyond our imagination.

For Timothy Morton this is his personal story, a very personal story. One in which he experiences a mystical “born-again” Christianity. It is a journey for him where love didn’t bring peace, but rather a sword, a hellish sword that set him on a quest. What he discovered became Salvation—literally and spiritually. Hell: In Search of a Christian Ecology is that quest. That road to Salvation.

Hell: In Search of a Christian Ecology, if we are serious about changing the tractile of the universe, this book is a must read. It is not the typical Christian ecology book, it’s not even the typical ecology book. It’s deep. It’s personal. – And it flips our thinking about what’s necessary to save both our planet and our own souls. Hell: In Search of a Christian Ecology is divided into three parts, each part called, “Holy.” A play on the word, “Hell.”

Part One welcomes us Hell, “the place where all your dreams come true.” And that place is right here on earth. [I was once told by a Jewish writer that the afterlife Hell is exactly that. However, our dreams are experienced over and over again until they become hell to experience.] In Part Two, Hell is the place where no one is at home. A place of ignorance and innocence. The place to discover Christ. Part Three, Hell is a place as “hot as hell,” and yet a beautiful world without end. In each “Holy” Morton unfolds William Blake (and not only William Blake) as he melds biological science with Christianity to deliver a Christian Ecology. And thus, Salvation.

Hell: In Search of a Christian Ecology is serious, yet a fun read. Reading the book is like I’m residing in Morton’s head as he works out Hell In Search of A Christian Ecology.

 

Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University and director of the Cool America Foundation. They are the author of more than twenty books, including Hyperobjects, Dark Ecology, and Ecology Without Nature. Morton has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Björk, Jennifer Walshe, Susan Kucera, Adam McKay, Jeff Bridges, and Olafur Eliasson.

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