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The Dream of the Earth

Thomas Berry

This landmark work, first published in 1988, has established itself as a foundational volume in the ecological canon. In it, noted cultural historian Thomas Berry provides nothing less than a new intellectual-ethical framework for the human community by positing planetary well-being as the measure of all human activity.

Drawing on the wisdom of Western philosophy, Asian thought, and Native American traditions, as well as contemporary physics and evolutionary biology, Berry offers a new perspective that recasts our understanding of science, technology, politics, religion, ecology, and education. He shows us why it is important for us to respond to the Earth's need for planetary renewal, and what we must do to break free of the "technological trance" that drives a misguided dream of progress. Only then, he suggests, can we foster mutually enhancing human-Earth relationships that can heal our traumatized global biosystem.

The late and much missed Thomas Berry (1914-2009), founder of the Riverdale Center for Religious Research, Riverdale, New York, was hailed by critic Kenneth L. Woodward as "the most provocative figure among this new breed of eco-theologians… whose essays have aroused environmentalists like a voice crying in the wilderness."

Web site editor's comment:  This is one of the three or four books that have changed my life.  It is the deepest and most beautiful book on ecology I have ever read.  Dennis Rivers 

Thomas Berry's biography    Article by Mary Evelyn Tucker

 


About Thomas Berry (adapted from Wikipedia)

Fr. Thomas Berry, C.P. (November 9, 1914 – June 1, 2009) was a Catholic priest of the Passionist order, cultural historian and ecotheologian (although cosmologist and geologian — or “Earth scholar” — were his preferred descriptors).

Among advocates of deep ecology and "ecospirituality" he is famous for proposing that a deep understanding of the history and functioning of the evolving universe is a necessary inspiration and guide for our own effective functioning as individuals and as a species. He is considered a leader in the tradition of the evoutionary spirituality of Teilhard de Chardin.

Author Michael Colebrook describes two key elements in Thomas Berry’s thinking: “Firstly, the primary status of the universe. The universe is, ‘the only self-referential reality in the phenomenal world. It is the only text without context. Everything else has to be seen in the context of the universe’. The second element is the significance of story, and in particular the universe as story. ‘The universe story is the quintessence of reality. We perceive the story. We put it in our language, the birds put it in theirs, and the trees put it in theirs. We can read the story of the universe in the trees. Everything tells the story of the universe. The winds tell the story, literally, not just imaginatively. The story has its imprint everywhere, and that is why it is so important to know the story. If you do not know the story, in a sense you do not know yourself; you do not know anything.’”

Biography:

Born William Nathan Berry in Greensboro, North Carolina, Berry was third of 13 children. By age eight, he had concluded that commercial values were threatening life on the planet. Three years later he had an epiphany in a meadow, which became a primary reference point for the rest of his life. He later elaborated this experience into a set of Twelve Principles for Understanding the Universe and the Role of the Human in the Universe Process. The first of these principles states:

“The universe, the solar system, and planet earth in themselves and in their evolutionary emergence constitute for the human community the primary revelation of that ultimate mystery whence all things emerge into being.”

At age 20, Berry entered a monastery of the Passionist order (ordained 1942) and, traveling widely, he began examining cultural history and foundations of diverse cultures and their relations with the natural world.

He received his doctorate in history from The Catholic University of America, with a thesis on Giambattista Vico's philosophy of history. He then studied Chinese language and Chinese culture in China and learned Sanskrit for the study of India and the traditions of religion in India. Later he assisted in an educational program for the T'boli tribal peoples of South Cotabataon, a Philippine island, and he taught the cultural history of India and China at universities in New Jersey and New York (1956-1965). Later he was director of the graduate program in the History of Religions at Fordham University (1966-1979). He founded and directed the Riverdale Center of Religious Research in Riverdale, New York (1970-1995). Berry studied and was influenced by the work of Teilhard de Chardin and was president of the American Teilhard Association (1975-1987). He has also studied Native American culture and shamanism.


Interview with Thomas Berry late in his life
as he sums up his vision of the Earth and Humans relationship,
themes his explores in The Dream of the Earth.

   

  




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