Our "Spooky Connectedness," or Why I Love Catherine Keller

jeanynePeople who write about process theology can be eloquent and inspiring, or intellectual and demanding, but for sheer poetic beauty no one surpasses Catherine Keller. Catherine writes as a theologian, yes, but also as someone who could as easily have gotten an MFA in writing as an MDiv and PhD in theology. Her writing aims for the liminal space in your psyche, where it emits flashes that illuminate your understanding and point you toward new possibilities.  

I was reminded of this all over again as I read Beatrice Marovich's interview with Keller in Religion Dispatches (November 2, 2011, "Quantum Theology: Our Spooky Interconnectedness"). The interview is about a book Keller is writing, called Cloud of the Impossible: Theological Entanglements. In it she brings together Nicholas of Cusa and quantum physics, specifically, quantum entanglement, to reflect on the multiplicity of relations--between people, between disciplinary fields, between human and divine--that comprise our lives.

More than that I hesitate to say--I haven't read the book, only the interview! But her comparing Cusa's either/or "cloud of impossibility," where, as she says, "two different things that you believe come into conlfict and contradict each other," with the particle-wave uncertainty of quantum physics reminds me of my favorite comparison between Whitehead and Jung. Whitehead writes of turning conflicts into contrasts; Jung writes of holding the tension of polar opposities long enough for a "transcendent third"--a third element that includes and transcends the two--to emerge. In both Whitehead and Jung, a useful metaphor is a container large enough to hold opposing ideas without obliterating one or the other.

Our world is in terrible need of that container, given the increasingly dire struggle between economies of life and economies of death. And of course the transcendent third is not necessarily the best solution. We have already seen the polarity of Republican/Democrat resolved into the larger container of Wall Street and shadowy plutocrats--a disheartening development, to say the least, but one that calls not for despair but the search for a still larger container.

It is this--the insistence on possibility within impossibility--that appeals to me about Keller's project. Her language is both theological and scientific, but in preaching language, "possibility within impossibility" boils down to one thing: hope. And no matter what language we speak, that is something we all need.


Response to Jeanyne on Catherine Keller

I appreciated your comments on the theme of Keller's book-to-be.  The idea of quantum entanglement and the development of its implications within process thought have fascinated me for some time.  If possilbe, please alert your P&F readers when Keller's book comes out.  Others may be like me and are not in the mainstream of information flow about relevant writings and depend on your website and Creative Transformations and Process Perspectives for news.  Thanks.