Last week I attended the American Teilhard Association annual meeting in New York. You can read more about my experiences here, here, here and here. One thing that was obvious is that the life and works of Thomas Berry has had a tremendous impact on the organization. Set forth below is a brief bio of Fr. Berry, courtesy of Wikipedia:
“Thomas Berry, C.P. 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 Teilhard de Chardin as demonstrated in the Introduction to his book, The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth. 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.”
Current leaders of the American Teilhard Association, Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim worked with Thomas Berry and are carrying out his vision. Dr. Tucker collaborated with Brian Swimme on creating the award-winning The Story of the Universe, which is a powerful artistic vision of the interconnectiveness of all of creation and a tribute to the vision of the Fr. Berry.