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Thomas Berry’s Expansive, Quiet Presence Moves On

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On June 1, Thomas Berry died peacefully at his home in the Wellspring Community in Greensboro, NC.  While this may have no direct bearing on the issues covered by AEI, his writings and his inspiration have been central to my ever-developing sense of self and purpose on this planet in our time; this morning as I take in the news of his passing, I am both saddened to feel this earth without his presence, and immensely grateful for the huge generosity of spirit he shared, and which continues to live, grow, and find further articulation in so many environmental activists and thinkers.  I am heartened to hear that he completed two more books, both of which will be published on August: The Sacred Universe and The Christian Future and the Fate of Earth.

ThomasBerryThomas Berry inspired in me a dedication to infusing my (and our culture’s) emerging scientific understanding of life and the cosmos with the sense of primal wonder that has always been central to our human experience as part of the natural world.  The part of me that seeks transcendence and unity need not be at odds with my 21st-century scientific curiosity; indeed, they fuel each other at the deepest levels.  I was first dazzled by his writings with cosmologist Brian Swimme (The Universe is a Green Dragon and Universe Story), in which the grandness of our emerging understanding of cosmology, with wondrous visual expression by Hubble and other deep-space imagery, is given intimate evocations within the timeless tradition of creation stories.  His encouragement to take part in a modern recasting of our culture’s creation story inspired much of my early adulthood; EarthEar was a chance to let the creatures of the earth tell their own story, “the eternal story, in its original language.” In the past couple of decades, he’s written and spoken passionately about the need to put the earth’s needs at the center of human decision-making, and has inspired other eco-theologians and eco-ministries that are bringing the natural world back into the center of Christian practice.

At the end of this post, I’ll link to a few of the obituaries that are beginning to emerge.  Before that, I’ll share some of his reflections that appear in them: Read the rest of this entry »