This book provides the first sustained philosophical treatment of Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ and articulates a theology of creation to recover our place within the cosmos.
In the encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis discerns beneath the imminent threat of ecological catastrophe an existential affliction of the human person, who is lost in the cosmos, increasingly alienated from self, others, nature, and God. Pope Francis suggests that one must reimagine humanity’s place in the created cosmos. In this ambitious and distinctive contribution to theological aesthetics, Thomas S. Hibbs provides the basis for just such a recovery, working from Laudato Si' to develop a philosophical and theological diagnosis of our ecological dislocation, a narrative account of the sources of the crisis, and a vision of the way forward.
Through a critical engagement with the artistic theory of Jacques Maritain, Hibbs shows how certain strains of modern art both capture our alienation and anticipate visions of recovered harmony among persons, nature, and God. In the second half of the book, in an attempt to fulfill Pope Francis’s plea for an “aesthetic education” and to apply and test Maritain’s theory, Hibbs examines the work of poets and painters. He analyzes the work of poets Robinson Jeffers and William Everson, and considers painters Georges Roualt, a friend to Maritain, and Makoto Fujimura, whose notion of “culture care” overlaps in suggestive ways with Francis’s notion of integral ecology.
Throughout this tour de force, Hibbs calls for a commitment to an “ecological poetics,” a project that responds to the crisis of our times by taking poets and painters as seriously as philosophers and theologians.
1. Laudato Si’, Technocracy, and the Renewal of Human Making
2. Jacques Maritain and the Twilight of Civilization
3. Nihilism and Modernity in Endless Crisis
4. The Ecological Poetics of Robinson Jeffers
5. The Sacramental Poetics of William Everson
6. Georges Rouault: Artist of Alienation and Transfiguration
7. Culture Care, Generativity, and the Calling of the Artist
Thomas S. Hibbs is the J. Newton Rayzor Sr. Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University, where he is also dean emeritus, having served sixteen years as dean of the Honors College and distinguished professor of ethics and culture. He is the author and editor of eight books, including Wagering on an Ironic God: Pascal on Faith and Philosophy.
“Finally, a leading American Catholic intellectual gives us a Francis that takes us far beyond clickbait headlines. There emerges a pope engaging, and extending, the papal tradition of Catholic social thought. In this case, a pope, a partner in the arts, contending with the risks of a post-human world.” —Graham James McAleer, author of Erich Przywara and Postmodern Natural Law
"'The ordered restlessness of the human heart' is the difficult habitation of Thomas Hibbs. Provoked by the reflections of Pope Francis on creation, Hibbs revives Jacques Maritain’s 'erotic encounter with Beauty' for a new generation of artists and spiritual pilgrims." —David O'Connor, author of Plato’s Bedroom: Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love
"Few contemporary writers have the breadth of reading in philosophy, theology, art, and pop culture so elegantly and persuasively displayed in Hibbs’s A Theology of Creation. Hibbs’s achievement is to look beyond theologians and philosophers to artists as sources of wisdom for renewing our wonder and gratitude at God’s creation. The book is a triumph!" —Joseph E. Capizzi, author of A Catechism for Business