The Sacred Universe : Earth, Spirituality, and Religion in the Twenty-first Century

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Overview

A leading scholar, cultural historian, and Catholic priest who spent more than fifty years writing about our engagement with the Earth, Thomas Berry possessed prophetic insight into the rampant destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species. In this book he makes a persuasive case for an interreligious dialogue that can better confront the environmental problems of the twenty-first century. These erudite and keenly sympathetic essays represent Berry's best work, covering such issues as human beings' modern alienation from nature and the possibilities of future, regenerative forms of religious experience. Asking that we create a new story of the universe and the emergence of the Earth within it, Berry resituates the human spirit within a sacred totality.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Commonweal - Christina Peppard

The volume is a fair encapsulation of the intellectual concerns for which Berry is best known.

Journal of the American Academy of Religion - Norman Wirzba

When encountering the essays, one is struck by the clarity of analyses showing humanity's destructive antagonism toward the Earth. In them we observe the gradual evocation of a vision in which this antagonism is overcome so that we can live in harmony and peace on our planetary home.

America - Stephen B. Scharper

The Sacred Universe is an important, inspiring compendium fo the thought of a great soul and spiritually profound seeker, who cogently and consistently reminds, even after his death, that we must learn to feel at home in the universe.

Commonweal
The volume is a fair encapsulation of the intellectual concerns for which Berry is best known.

— Christina Peppard

Resurgence

Thoams Berry demonstrattes in these papers the qualities he calls for: humanist vision and imagination.

Journal of the American Academy of Religion
When encountering the essays, one is struck by the clarity of analyses showing humanity's destructive antagonism toward the Earth. In them we observe the gradual evocation of a vision in which this antagonism is overcome so that we can live in harmony and peace on our planetary home.

— Norman Wirzba

Commonweal

The volume is a fair encapsulation of the intellectual concerns for which Berry is best known.

— Christina Peppard

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

When encountering the essays, one is struck by the clarity of analyses showing humanity's destructive antagonism toward the Earth. In them we observe the gradual evocation of a vision in which this antagonism is overcome so that we can live in harmony and peace on our planetary home.

— Norman Wirzba

Publishers Weekly
The subtitle declares that these collected essays, published from 1972 to 2001, are still relevant. Readers confronting the planetary degradation that Berry chronicles in later essays and those recognizing a basic human need for spirituality will likely agree. Berry, a Catholic priest and author of The Dream of the Earth, devoted his life's work to connecting modern people with a spirituality that respects and is fed by our relationship with nature. In four parts, this book addresses how the history and diversity of world religions offer ways to engage with Earth; how it is necessary to connect with a spirituality that is Earth derived; how science can be in conversation with the religious sensibilities of wonder and awe; and how our relationship to the natural world is crucial to our spirituality. In the earliest essays, Berry sounds most optimistic and urges readers to reconcile modern impulses and technology with religious traditions. The later essays strike a more imperative tone, pressing for a change of mind and soul to deeply engage our sacred universe. The essay collection acquires even more significance and urgency in light of Berry's death in June. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This collection of essays by Berry, the Roman Catholic priest and environmental theologian who died in June, date from the 1970s to Berry's final pieces. The earliest essays still present relevant challenges to Christian and other religious thinkers to reinterpret their own traditions in a global context and in relation to one another. Throughout, Berry describes an alienation from Earth and its functioning, especially in Western societies. We know of the physical world through our quantitative measurements and we know of God through our scriptures, theologies, and religious traditions, but we've lost the wonder of direct experience of the natural world. Without an understanding of the entire world as sacred, Berry believes that we are doomed. Berry particularly faults biblical linear history and the biblical call for human dominance of creation as helping establish the reductionist concept of Earth as simply a collection of "natural resources." VERDICT Because Berry delivers a consistent message throughout, general readers might be better served by reading these essays within a broader collection. But dedicated readers of ecology, theology, or religious philosophy will want to savor each one here.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231149525
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 9/16/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 791,902
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Berry (1914-2009) established the History of Religions Program at Fordham University and, with Wm. Theodore de Bary, founded the Oriental Thought and Religion Seminar at Columbia University. He was also the former director of the Riverdale Center for Religious Research. Along with his books Buddhism and Religions of India, his major publications include The Dream of the Earth, The Great Work, Evening Thoughts, and The Universe Story, with Brian Swimme.Mary Evelyn Tucker directs the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale where she teaches in a joint degree program between the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Divinity School. She is the author of Moral and Spiritual Cultivation in Japanese Neo-Confucianism, The Philosophy of Qi, and Worldly Wonder: Religions Enter Their Ecological Phase.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Mary Evelyn TuckerPart I 1. Traditional Religion in the Modern World (1972)2. Religion in the Global Human Community (1975)3. Alienation4. Historical and Contemporary SpiritualityPart II 5. The Spirituality of the Earth (1979)6. Religion in the Twenty-first Century (1993, 1996)7. Religion in the Ecozoic Era (1993)Part III 8. The Gaia Hypothesis: Its Religious Implications (1994)9. The Cosmology of Religions (1994, 1998)10. An Ecologically Sensitive Spirituality (1996)Part IV 11. The Universe as Divine Manifestation (2001)12. The Sacred Universe (1998, 2001)13. The World of Wonder (2001)NotesIndex

Columbia University Press

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