In From the Beginning to Baptism, Linda Gibler takes readers on a journey—from the depths of space and the beginning of time through sacred Scripture and church history—to discover the origins and creative power of water, oil, and fire. She traces the lives of those elemental entities through their cosmic history, to the point at which they are poured over the head and light the way of one being baptized. These elemental sources of all life are the substances through which new life in Christ begins in the sacrament of baptism. The journey through space and time, through the birth of the Universe and of life, and Gibler’s reflections on this drama, help readers to enter into the "cosmocentric spirituality" at the heart of all things. No one who reads this book will ever again look at a drop of water, an olive, or a candle with the same eyes.
Linda Gibler, PhD, a Houston Dominican Sister, is currently associate academic dean at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. She has several years’ experience as a parish minister and is the science editor and a contributing author for the Collins Foundation Press, which hosts conferences on the significance of recent scientific revelations for faith, meaning, and the well-being of Earth and all her species.
For those who preach and teach about baptism, Gibler's book is a rich source of materials, scientific and sacred, for opening awareness, inspiring gratitude and awe, and deepening faith.
Poetic, cosmological, theological, and liturgical sensibilities (and highly informed ones, at that) collude in From the Beginning to Baptism: Scientific and Sacred Stories of Water, Oil, and Fire. Linda Gibler's extensive meditations on the physical elements of water, oil, and fire sacramentalized in Catholic baptismal have a 13.7 billion year stretch-reach. There's a lot of learning at work here. It's just hugely engaging reading, and competent liturgical theology deserves as much!
Bernard J. Lee, SM
Professor of Theology
St. Mary's University
San Antonio, Texas
Gibler provides a cutting-edge understanding of sacamentality in which theology and science are fully integrated. Smoothly written and powerfully engaging, the book deftly covers new ground while synthesizing traditional sources, previous studies and the latest scientific findings. The magnificent Teilhardian vision of a cosmocentric sacramentality that emerges is simply stunning.
Allan Figueroa Deck, SJ
USCCB Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church
Linda Gibler has written an inventive and wonderful exploration of the elements of baptism: water, oil, and fire. There are wonderful discoveries to be gained each step of the way. I am eager to use this book in classes. Gibler's insights will enrich preaching as well as the celebration of the sacraments. The book would also be useful in Sunday School classes and will be of special interest to those exploring the relationship of science and faith.
Paul Galbreath, Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology
Gibler provides us with a rare integration of cosmology and sacramentality. Grounded in a theology of creation, the thought of Teilhard de Chardin, as well as the science behind the new universe story, she approaches her study of the Sacrament of Baptism through biblical, patristic, and cosmic insights into water, oil, and fire. The sacrament comes alive in both its human and cosmic dimensions. Her work reflects ways in which science, theology, and spirituality can all complement each other. It is truly a cosmocentric sacramental spirituality.
Donald Goergen, OP, St. Dominic Priory, St. Louis, Missouri
Linda Gibler's readable work is both original and consequential. I know of no other work that attempts to provide such a carefully developed bridge between contemporary cosmological and scientific understandings of nature on the one hand, and sacramentality as liturgically understood on the other. Highly recommended.
John F. Haught, PhD, Senior Fellow, Science & Religion, Woodstock Theological Center Georgetown University, Washington, DC