Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as a Sacred Community
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This new collection of essays, from various years and occasions, expands and deepens ideas articulated in his earlier writings and also breaks new ground. Berry opens our eyes to the full dimensions of the ecological crisis, framing it as a crisis of spiritual vision. Applying his formidable erudition in cultural history, science, and comparative religions, he forges a compelling narrative of creation and communion that reconciles modern evolutionary thinking and traditional religious insights concerning our integral role in Earth’s society.
While sounding an urgent alarm at our current dilemma, Berry inspires us to reclaim our role as the consciousness of the universe and thereby begin to create a true partnership with the Earth Community. With Evening Thoughts, this wise elder has lit another beacon to lead us home.
perspective, not only does the natural world become less capable of communicating divine presence, it also becomes isolated from the divine. A second aspect of the extensive influence of the former humanistic-religious traditions is the establishment of the human also as transcendent to the natural world. This completed the alienation and isolation of the natural world from the divine and made possible the conception of the natural world as mere external object. A further step in degradation
this reflects an awareness of new modes of being in community. This is especially true in South America, where political revolutionaries such as José de San Martín (1778–1850) and Simón Bolívar (1783–1830) awakened the people to their existence as nations. In China, there emerged the political nationalism of the reform movement led by the scholar K’ang Yu-wei (1858–1927) and Li Ta-chao (1889–1927), a leader in the May Fourth Movement. In the United States, nationalism found expression in the
would prevent the individual state from devastating the natural regions over which it has control. This is of special importance because the powers that humans now have are sufficient to do immense damage to the Earth. As a precedent for establishing the larger context of human activity within the universe itself, we might turn to the Chinese Confucian tradition that envisaged the natural order as intrinsic to the human order. The two constituted an interwoven existence. The ruler was the
she speaks is not the excitement of the builder following a blueprint in building a house. It is rather the excitement of the musician creating a symphony, of the artist who is designing a painting or a sculpture, or the expectation of a poet as he moves into the most significant lines of a poem to which he has dedicated his effort over a long period of time. Such a moment the poet Goethe referred to when he noted that, in writing his finest lines, it seemed that his spirit guide took over his
cost to the planet of industrialization. Traditional economics focuses on the exchange and production of goods and services, but the discipline has been reduced to a mere utilitarian and exploitative process. This distortion of economics is at the base of many social and environmental problems today. Thus we need new forms of ecological economics, such as those suggested by Herman Daly, Robert Costanza, Richard Norgaard, and Hazel Henderson. Education is already late in revising itself to