Teilhard de Chardin and the Blaze of Holy Unease


When I was away on my mini-sabbatical a couple of weeks ago, Shannon Huffman Polson had a wonderful two-part article on Teilhard de Chardin at Patheos. The article describes how Ms. Polson was listening to an On Being radio interview with biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann. Professor Brueggemann was describing how God will always be greater than our human imagination of Him can be and that Christianity calls us to live a life of “holy unease”.  Ms. Polson then describes the life and vision of Teilhard de Chardin as examples of this:

“The reality of our life and the reality of God are not contained in most of our explanatory schemes,” Brueggemann warns.

Tippett asks: “You also think that that unease is a holy thing, or can be a holy thing, that, in fact, the Bible calls the faithful not to be too settled and too comfortable.”

“I think that’s exactly right,” says Brueggemann.

How might we learn to live into a holy unease? By learning from those who did.

Ms. Polson then describes Teilhard de Chardin’s grand vision that God is continuing to create through evolution in both the physical and spiritual dimensions:

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin saw creation as dynamic in matter and spirit, and understood the world and specifically human consciousness as continually evolving. He believed creation to be the process of divine incarnation, all of the world perpetually moving toward God. The process was not and could not yet be complete. As a result “nothing is profane here below for those who have eyes to see.” All is sacred.

In [Teilhard de] Chardin’s Mass of the World, written in the vast expanses of the Inner Mongolian Ordos Desert, he prays: “the offering you really want, the offering you mysteriously need every day to appease your hunger, to slake your thirst is nothing less than the growth of the world borne ever onwards in the stream of universal becoming.”

God is no passive player, as [Teilhard de] Chardin writes in The Divine Milieu:“God truly waits for us in all things, unless indeed he advances to meet us.”

You can read both parts of the article here and here.

About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog (www.teilhard.com) explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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10 Responses to Teilhard de Chardin and the Blaze of Holy Unease

  1. Here is another insight into Ignatian spirituality, in that this topic is reminiscent of the meditation on being created, in the SPEX. I can’t remember the exact title off by heart, it’s there.

    I love that we are continually being created, formed and moulded. The challenge is to let God do the shaping, which for me, also means to let go of my need for control, certainty, etc.

    I also just discovered SoundCloud, and you can listen to “On Being” online. There is one on Teilhard which I am yet to finish listening to! 🙂

    • Geralyn:

      Thank you for the wonderful reference in the Spiritual Exercises. It will provide me with a good meditation for the beginning of Lent :-).

      Hope you enjoy the On Being podcast on Teilhard de Chardin. There are some excellent extended interviews available here that did not make the cut for the radio program.

      W. Ockham

  2. This is such a wonderful reminder that God is BIG, and we, no matter how we perceive ourselves, are not. “He is the Creator and I am the created”, this is my constant tag line in life, reminding me that I will never be able to fully wrap my brain around Him and all of His glory, as my brain simply cannot fully grasp His magnitude.
    Also, I never heard, how was the “sabbatical”—wasn’t certain as to when you returned as you never seemed to skip a beat with your posts 🙂
    Thank you for this humbling reminder William–

    • Hi Julie:

      Thank you for your nice comments and for your inquiry. My vacation was great. It was nice seeing my brother and spending some time in England and Ireland during another cold spell in the States. Hope all is well.

      W. Ockham

  3. Lynda says:

    St. Paul continually writes in different ways that we are in this world but not of the world. This is reminiscent of St. Ignatius’ writings on detachment. We are here to tell God’s story so others will come to know the Creator of the universe and so we can together come to our Lord in humility and love – and we tell that story by the way we live. What better example (other than Jesus himself) than our Pope Francis! Blessings.

  4. Lana says:

    Oh, I missed that article too.

  5. “How might we learn to live into a holy unease?”

    “All is sacred.”

    I know it isn’t difficult to feel the unease of loving my neighbor as myself… thankfully it isn’t always unease.

    ~ Eric

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