Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Everyone’s Required Reading: Thomas Berry

Have a look at the following passage from Reverend Fr. Thomas Berry’s book “The Great Work: Our Way into the Future.”

“As we enter the twenty-first century, we are experiencing a moment of grace. Such moments are privileged moments. The great transformations of the universe occur at such times…What can be said is that the foundations of a new historical period, the Ecozoic Era, have been established in every realm of human affairs. The mythic vision has been set into place. The distorted dream of an industrial technological paradise is being replaced by the more viable dream of a mutually enhancing human presence within an ever-renewing organic-based Earth community. The dream drives the action. In the larger cultural context the dream becomes the myth that both guides and drives the action.”


What’s particularly fascinating about this statement is that it was published in 1999. Pre-9/11. Pre-widespread acknowledgement of global warming.

Thomas Berry is 93-years-old today and considered the greatest eco-theologian of our time. He served as adviser to the Clinton White House on environmental issues, and has been the inspiring force behind many leading environmental thinkers, both religious and secular. His writings follow in the tradition of philosopher-paleontolist-priest <a href="" target="_new
“>Teilhard de Chardin.

Berry has been calling for a new cosmology for years, a new way of viewing our commitments to God, to our human family, and to the earth. If you haven’t previously read his books, you might find that his work has the power to set your own life and work in a new context.


Here’s an excerpt from a famous paper on EcoEthics Berry delivered to the Harvard Seminar on Environmental Values in 1996.

“…our western civilization has never taken [the] unity of the universe seriously because of our anthropocentrism both in our biblical religious and our Greek humanist traditions. We see the human as a princely resident on a planet that is completely lacking in any inherent rights that must be respected by humans…

“The ecological community is not subordinate to the human community. Nor is the ecological imperative derivative from human ethics. Rather our human ethics is derivative from the ecological imperative…The Earth is not part of the Human Story, the human story is part of the Earth Story.”

I know that’s quite a mouthful. But I hope this moves you to read more. Apparently, Berry came to the conclusion that “commercial values threatened our planet” rather early–in 1922, when he was only eight years old!

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posted March 1, 2007 at 3:42 am

Wow, what a breath of fresh air amid ever increasing blasts of hot gas from Christians today. Berry has been calling for a new cosmology for years, a new way of viewing our commitments to God, to our human family, and to the earth. Could not agree more. This kind of talk, which I suspect the majority of today’s Christians cheerfully dismiss as “liberal,” is refreshing to me. Thanks for sharing this.

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posted March 2, 2007 at 3:56 pm

In response to your post on Thomas Berry and “environmental crisis” I want to post a part from my article which examines the impact of industrialization on our minds and environment. The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct. Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel. Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.If there are no gaps there is no emotion.Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.Emotion ends.Man becomes machine. A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety. Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself. To read the complete article please follow either of these links :

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A Cunningham

posted March 2, 2007 at 4:42 pm

Sushil–Thank you for this! CM

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Douglas J Stuart

posted June 12, 2007 at 5:11 pm

Hi – As a US Fish and Wildlife Service Naturalist I use some of Thomas Berry’s philosophy in my work with the public. It does my 65 year old heart good to realize that men of such stature exist. We all must come to a place in our minds and hearts that reflects his way of understanding. Our future as a part of this earth requires this…….. DJS

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