Thomas Berry (1914–2009) was one of the twentieth century’s most prescient and profound thinkers. As a cultural historian, he sought a broader perspective on humanity’s relationship to the earth in order to respond to the ecological and social challenges of our times. This first biography of Berry illuminates his remarkable vision and its continuing relevance for achieving transformative social change and environmental renewal.
Berry began his studies in Western history and religions and then expanded to include Asian and indigenous religions, which he taught at Fordham University, Barnard College, and Columbia University. Drawing on his explorations of history, he came to see the evolutionary process as a story that could help restore the continuity of humans with the natural world. Berry urged humans to recognize their place on a planet with complex ecosystems in a vast, evolving universe. He sought to replace the modern alienation from nature with a sense of intimacy and responsibility. Berry called for new forms of ecological education, law, and spirituality, as well as the creation of resilient agricultural systems, bioregions, and ecocities. At a time of growing environmental crisis, this biography shows the ongoing significance of Berry’s conception of human interdependence with the earth as part of the unfolding journey of the universe.
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About the Author
Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim teach at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Yale Divinity School, where they direct the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology. They worked closely with Thomas Berry for over thirty years as his students, editors, and literary executors and are the managing trustees of the Thomas Berry Foundation.
Andrew Angyal is professor emeritus of English and environmental studies at Elon University. He is also the author of Loren Eisley (1983), Lewis Thomas (1989), and Wendell Berry (1995).
Mary Evelyn Tucker (PhD, Jananese Confucianism, Columbia) is Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Department of Religious Studies, and the Divinity School. She directs the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale with her husband, John Grim. She is also Research Associate at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard. She is the author of several books, including Worldly Wonder: Religions Enter Their Ecological Phase (Open Court, 2003) and The Philosophy of Qi (Columbia, 2007). She is the editor of several of Thomas Berry's books, including The Sacred Universe (Columbia, 2009). She is the coeditor (with Grim) of Ecology and Religion (Island, 2014) and the World Religions and Ecology series (Harvard) and (with Grim and Willis Jenkins) of the Routledge Handbook on Religion and Ecology (2016). She and Grim are the managing trustees of the Thomas Berry Foundation.
John Grim (PhD, History of Religions, Fordham) is Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Scholar at Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His published works include The Shaman: Patterns of Religious Healing Among the Ojibway Indians (Oklahoma, 1983) and (as editor) Indigenous Traditions and Ecology: The Interbeing of Cosmology and Community (Harvard, 2001). His interests focus on Native American and indigenous religions and religion and ecology.
Andrew Angyal (PhD, English, Duke) is Professor of English and Environmental Studies at Elon University. He is the author of biographies of Loren Eiseley (Hall, 1983), Lewis Thomas (Hall, 1989), and Wendell Berry (Hall, 1995). He specializes in environmental humanities, chaos and complexity theory, and ecospirituality.