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Record Type: Review   ID: 25

Person in Cosmos: Metaphors of Meaning from Physics, Philosophy and Theology

O’Shea, Kevin

Australian philosopher-theologian O'Shea presents "a synthetic outline of the vision of reality that comes from modern theoretical physics, and a sketch of the response to it made by philosophy and psychology." Second, he proposes that both disciplines "become silent at certain limit points of their disciplines, and that certain metaphors can be developed that enable us to speak in that silence" (p. xiii). These metaphors are communion, music, emergence, presence, and joy. Using insights provided by those metaphors, he looks anew at some major themes of "the theology of death, … of the paschal mystery, the covenant and communion, and the theology of the mission of the divine persons of the trinity" (p. x) with the aim of showing that the referent of the metaphors implicit in the language of the physicists, and the referent of the metaphors implicit in the almost mystical language of the old "referent of the metaphors implicit in the language of the physicists, and to the referent of the metaphors implicit in the almost mystical language of the old theological tradition, can cohere" (pp. x & xi). His underlying basic perspective is that "the person in the cosmos, which is its home" (p. xiv).

Reading this book should elicit insights for any reader. Although the subject matter is not new, some of the connections he makes will be to many. But beyond the words, this author also honors the silence. And beyond his logically constructed arguments, he is involved with issues of concern to all EHEers: with limits; finding a "direction through person, cosmos and communion"; viewing abstruse subject matter as a story, a tale of vital concern to us as individual planetary beings; recognizing the value of metaphor out at the edges of physics, philosophy, and theology-and at the ever-new limits of being with which EHEers are familiar. Although O'Shea doesn't quote William James specifically, he uses my own often quoted Jamesian phrase in his conclusion, titled "Seeing Differently." He points out that "this sense of being is a precious thing … it gives us an invitation to ponder a reality that is deeper than change. It touches the MORE … " (p. 198). [Note that he, like James, capitalizes every letter.] "We see that in God, in the person, in the cosmos, there is always 'more,' and that the 'more' is a Grace that is as permanent as being itself. We see … an ultimacy whose real name is love" (p. 199). This, I would add, is the core import and often realization implicit or explicit in EHEs.

Publisher Information:Bristol, IN: Wyndham Hall, 1995. Pp. xiv + 212. Bibl: 202-212; Chapnotes; 2 figs; 1 table
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