For Christians trying to fit religion into a story of the universe as antiquated as Nietzsche's dead god, or atheists attempting to fit the earth into a reductionism as dualistically mechanistic as Descartes' thinking and being, this book is a real paradigm challenging trip down the rabbit hole.
The advent of science as a major voice in defining the nature of reality has forced religions of all stripes to look at their assumptions with a wider lens. Being informed by the power of scientific inquiry and discovery has, as this book demonstrates, opened an ongoing and profoundly creative dialogue between science and religion, offering religion an alternative between aping the methods of science to prove a God which cannot be "proven" with standard methodology, or, the even more disturbing and all too common practice of religions around the world retreating into the rigidity of fundamentalism.
This book is part of that still-in-its-infancy dialogue and its author is an impressive voice along the way. Articulate and complex, she never dumbs down her explorations and remains true to the major motifs of Christianity and most important, (least Christianity itself eventually become an example of natural selection and in clinging to a static universe, finds not the Kingdom, but extinction), she adds the necessary wider vision of possibilities given what we've learned about the universe in the last two thousand years.
While she offers little on how these innovative ideas may be dispensed to the larger Christian community (many of whom are Biblical literalists still searching for the garden where Eve's appetite led to the fall of humanity), to say nothing of non-Christian peoples, ultimately that's not the purpose of the book as I understand it.
Dante's universe evaporated long ago, a mist of dream and dogma with a God fashioned in the image of a Middle Eastern tribal chieftain. Delio writes: "Just as the psalmist marvels at the expanse of the heavens, we too must ask, how wide is our vision of God?"
Similarly, our understanding of what we have called God necessarily depends on our understanding of the universe. It would be unthinkable therefore to assume that even "...the creator God of an evolutionary, interrelated universe..." as Delio puts it, is the last word. Our ever growing knowledge of the universe will continue to change our models which ultimately inform religion. From Picasso's cubism to Einstein's E=mc2, the image of a static, if not complacent and anthropocentric universe has been disintegrating for over a century.
Emergent Christ provides a feast of ideas contributing not perfectly, but diligently, to an ongoing dialogue about the implications of being human in this vast and unfathomable universe within which we find ourselves wondering, discovering and creating ourselves anew with each epoch.