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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A desert experience brings a life change

Paul Connolly had an intervew with Ana Kokkinos in Sunday Life last Sunday July 26/09.

The interview was broken up into five paragraphs. I liked Paragraph 4 titled Finding her heart in the Red Centre...

In the late '80s I quit my job as a solicitor. I enjoyed the job but felt I'd come to a fork in the road. I could see my career mapped out, but I also had a passion to be a filmmaker. I needed to get away from Melbourne, so my partner, Mira Robertson, and I travelled to central Australia and let it wash over us. It ended up having a spiritual dimension for me. It felt impossible to experience the landscape and not follow my heart so I applied to film school.


Horns of a dilemma: Diarmuid O'Murchu and The Lord's Prayer

On the horns of a dilemma
(and I don't mean the poor jailed goat)!

Over at Diarmuid O' Murchu's site I found a lovely version of The Lord's Prayer supposedly "based on the original Aramaic - source unknown". I like the prayer. It has struck a chord with me. However....

and it is a big however, Michael Booker at the National Association of Scholars site gives the background to the prayer.

Ah, caution!
I think I should bear in mind what Michael Booker has to say.

But, as a prayer, I think it's not bad. And striking a chord in me - as it undoubtedly does with others - bears witness to our thoughts on the universe, idealistic or psuedo-poetic though they be. So I pass it on here - but without the claims for the 'original' Aramaic.

The Lord’ s Prayer

(modern version by Neil Douglas-Klotz)

O Cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration! Soften the ground of our being
and carve out a space within us where your presence can abide.

Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered
to bear
the fruit of your mission.

Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with your desire.

Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share
what each being needs
to grow and flourish.

Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us,

as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes.

Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose,
but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.

For you are the ground and fruitful vision, the birth, power and fulfilment,
as all is gathered and made whole once again.


Thomas Berry - Memorial Service - London

Thomas Berry Memorial Service

Thomas Berry

There will be a memorial service for Thomas Berry on Sunday 20th September 2009 at 5pm at St James' Church, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL. Click here for a map.

Diarmuid O'Murchu will give the homily. More information about the service will be sent out on this email list in due course.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

A blogging milestone

Picture from here and edited

The first post on this blog was on 23 September 2006. The blog is intended to be a repository for spiritual resources with an emphasis on desert spirituality which was defined in the very first post.

In the almost three years since the blog began, there have been times when I seem to have tapped the mother lode and there has been plenty to add and the blog has been a hive of activity. At other times, as life takes over there have been prolonged absences from the blog for which I apologise.

I don't know who reads the blog but I know visitors come from across the world. Unfortunately, some seem to come only for images and I am unaware of where these end up, in spite of asking for the courtesy of attribution for anything that comes from the blog.

Many do come from searches for desert spirituality and I hope they find the resources here on this blog useful.

The purpose of this reflection is that, in spite of the ups and downs of life and the blog, one person from South Africa in the very, very early hours of the morning (AEST) became the 7,000th visitor. 7,000 is not an exciting number in terms of big-hitting blogs. It is quite pedestrian. For me and this blog, though, considering that desert spirituality is not a pursuit of popular or political culture, I consider this a milestone on which I must remark.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ethical & sustainable shopping for books, clothes and household

In this day and age, ethical shopping is a spiritual pursuit. If we care for the planet we will seek to extend the life of the goods we consume so that there is less of the planet's resources mined, chopped, harvested and less pollution thrown into our atmosphere and our waterways.

In the interests of ethical and sustainable shopping, I have to-day placed on the sidebar click-through pictures for these two sites. Brotherhood Books is an online outlet of the Brotherhood of St Laurence here in Melbourne. A wide range of second-hand books at reasonable prices is available. Have a browse!

Op shopping is an art - particularly in Melbourne. And with I Op Therefore I Am we have a tool to assist us in practising the art: reviews of Op Shops across Melbourne and you can get lists of Op Shops with opening hours and addresses.

Happy Shopping...
Ethically and Sustainably!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bonhoefer 4 - Update - Video, Fines, Confiscation and Forfeiture

Bonhoeffer 4 Update: Wed 090715 15.39pm

The Bonhoeffer 4 appeared in the Rockhampton Magistrates court this morning. The Magistrate refused to let the four be heard together. They individually pleaded guilty to the charges. Before they were sentenced each defendant spoke powerfully about why they took the action they did.

They were all given fines:

Jessica (Trespass & Obstruction) $1200
Margaret (Trespass) $400
Jarrod (Trespass) $200
Simon (Trespass & Obstruction) $700

The defendants made it clear that they would not pay the fines suggesting that they be given community service or the money go to community organisations that support peace.

Supporters were present in the court room and welcomed them out of the watchhouse when they were released.

At this stage, the police have confiscated some of their property such as mobile phones and cameras despite the fact that the matter has been dealt with in court. These articles have been kept by the state because they were used in the “commission of a crime”. The four are currently in the process of appealing the forfeiture order. Jessica and Simon are unable to be contacted on their phones for this reason.


Welcome to the Defence Dept and may the peace of Christ be with them

Since I have been posting on this blog about the Bonhoeffer 4, the Australian Department of Defence has paid a few visits. Last one was about half an hour ago - but not to the latest post. That surprised me. If you are not a blogger you may not have realised that bloggers usually have a form of statistical tracking system on their blogs which give a range of information. One can't tell who the individual is. I won't know it is you but it tells me who the provider is and where the broadcast point is. However, in the case of government departments, the department's name is given.

I find it unusual that Defence visits this blog yet over at The Network I am doing identical posts and they haven't visited there. Perhaps they twigged to that early on and are diligent in not wasting taxpayer time and money, do you think?

However, dear media person from the Department of Defence, if you have dropped by to read about the Bonhoeffer 4 being arrested at the Shoalwater Bay defence facility near Rockhampton and then being arrested and appearing in court, I do sincerely hope that you can spare a minute to look more closely at this blog and its range of spiritual resources which can enrich your life. Only a minute or perhaps two....God will do the rest.

May the Peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you.


Jimmy Carter acts on discrimination against women in the Southern Baptist Convention

Former US President, Jimmy Carter has severed his ties with the Southern Baptist Convention after a recent announcement which discrimates against women in that denomination. Jimmy Carter has expressed his views here.

If you wish to express your appreciation to Jimmy Carter, you might care to write to him at The Carter Center.

I first read the news in The Age here. Please compare the difference between The Age headline and The Guardian/Observer headline. Definite downplay in The Age. As well, The Age left out these words:

"Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status ..." (Article 2, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

You might like to write to The Age at letters@theage.com.au as I have done this morning:

Jimmy Carter’s resignation from the Southern Baptist Convention is welcomed by many women of faith around the world. Thank you to The Age for publishing the article from the Observer. What a pity however that The Age provided such an insignificant headline compared to the one in the on-line edition of The Guardian/Observer. Could I remind those responsible for this significant downgrading of the headline that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. The Observer is clearly on the side of the solution. The Age is clearly still part of the problem.


Bonhoeffer 4 - update

Bonhoeffer 4 update
From late last night
The four have all been charged with tresspass.
Jessica and Simon have also been charged with obstruction.
They are currently at the Rockhampton watchhouse where they will be held over night
after refusing to agree to police bail.
They will appear in the Rockhampton court tomorrow morning.
A small crowd gathered outside the watchhouse as the four were brought in.
The Christian activists who spent over 30 hours on the Shoalwater Training Area during the Talisman Saber live firing exercise will spend a night in the Rockhampton watchhouse.

The four activists, Margaret Pestorius, Jarrod McKenna, Jessica Morrison and Rev. Simon Moyle were arrested this afternoon at the Shoalwater military base and charged with Trespass. Ms Morrison and Rev. Moyle were also charged with obstruction.

All four have refused police bail and will be held overnight in the Rockhampton watchhouse. They are scheduled to appear in court tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

“We are relieved to know they are safe however we are concerned that the military failed to acknowledge that there were people on the base during the live firing stage of Talisman Saber. Clearly there were and yet the exercise was not halted. This is despite the protocol advised by Air Commander Meier who put it on the record in Parliament earlier this year that the exercise would stop if any one was found to be on the base,” said spokesperson Ms Treena Lenthall.

The four are expected to appear in court at 9.15am Wednesday 15 July.
For further information please contact Treena Lenthall 0447 851 858


Silver Wattle at Ben Cruachan

Silver Wattle photo by Duncan Fraser
from his blog, Ben Cruachan

One of the most beautiful blogs you will ever see and arguably the best nature blog in Australia is done by an older man called Duncan Fraser who lives in a very beautiful part of rural Victoria. The blog is elegantly laid out, the photos are of a supremely high standard, and his text gives wonderful insight into our environment. All praise to Duncan and to the Creator Spirit who laid out all this beauty for him to record.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Talisman Saber 09 - Bonhoeffer 4 on base - #3

OK - can't explain why the Bonhoeffer 4
now looks like the Bonhoeffer 3
but I suppose one of them had to be behind the camera.

However, they have been found.
David Pocock said 7 mins ago that
it was expected that they would be taken to
Rockhampton Police Station
And a little later, the Press Release:
Press Release
Tuesday 14 July 2009

Christian Activists found on Shoalwater Training Area

Margaret Pestorius, Jarrod McKenna, Jessica Morrison and Rev. Simon Moyle have been found this afternoon on the Shoalwater Bay military training area after entering the base yesterday. The four are expected to be taken to Rockhampton Police Station.

For more information contact Treena Lenthall 0447 851 858


Press Release
Monday 13 July 2009

Christian Activists enter restricted military area during live-fire exercises

Four nonviolent Christian activists have entered the Shoalwater Bay Training Area this morning to stop the Talisman Saber exercises. Calling themselves the “Bonhoeffer 4” after Kevin Rudd’s favourite theologian, Margaret Pestorius (44, Social Worker, Cairns), Jarrod McKenna (28, School Peace Educator, Perth) Jessica Morrison (33, University lecturer, Melbourne) and Rev. Simon Moyle (32, Baptist Minister, Melbourne) are currently moving towards a live-fire area. They call on the Australian and US forces to cease their involvement in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the undeclared war in Pakistan.

The group has released the following statement:

In his article in the Monthly, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called Bonhoeffer “without a doubt, the man I admire most in the history of the twentieth century.” We have taken the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, because he embodied a serious, costly commitment to peacemaking and ending injustice, “a costly grace”. Yet Rudd’s $100 billion long-term military spending plan reveals the Prime Minister has forgotten his hero and is in need of some sisters and brothers to jog his memory.

That is why we will put our own bodies on the line in order to stop the U.S./ Australian Talisman Saber Military Exercises and jam a spoke in the wheel of war. These exercises are implicated in killing and injuring our sisters and brothers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including untold numbers of civilians. This “war without end”, as George Bush put it, has no exit strategy and no end in sight. We will not overcome the violent terrorism of the poor with the violent terrorism of the rich.

Rev. Moyle has been in contact with the Defence Department about our plans for more than 7 months (http://nonviolencestories.wordpress.com ) in order to build a relationship of trust and openness. Air Commander Meier has stated in Parliament, “If we know there is an unauthorised person into the Commonwealth land at Shoalwater Bay…the exercise is stopped.” The Defence Department has been notified of our presence on the base. We call on Air Commander Meier to keep his word to the Australian people.

We plan to be inside the area for as long as possible, and are well prepared for a long stay.

As Rudd’s hero Bonhoeffer put it, “The church has three possible ways it can act against the State. First, it can ask the State if its actions are legitimate. Second, it can aid the victims of the State action… The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel but to jam a spoke in the wheel itself.” With our actions and our lives we plan to do all three.

For footage and stills (full res) of the activists entering the area
contact media spokesperson Treena Lenthall (0447 851 858).


Talisman Saber 09 - Bonhoeffer 4 on base - #2

Tbe Bonhoeffer 4 are at large
in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area
1.51pm update from David Pocock

Captain Christopher Hawkins of the ADF has indicated they remain unconvinced that the Bonhoeffer 4 are on the Shoalwater Bay Training Area despite photographic and video evidence (aired on television last night) clearly showing them on the base.

“We are concerned about the lack of action taken by the military regarding the four people on the base. We have grave fears for their safety as live firing has commenced at Shoalwater Bay. We call on the ADF to follow the decision by Air Commander Meier and cease the bombing while people’s lives are at risk,” said spokesperson Treena Lenthall.

Ms Julie Moyle, the wife of Rev Simon Moyle who is one of the four, also said, “ADF have had proof for more than 24 hours that my husband and three others are in Shoalwater Bay. The ADF needs to stop denying and put Commander Meier’s words into action and stop the exercises today.”

Ms Moyle and their three children will join other supporters in delivering further video footage and photographs which show that the four are on the base to the ADF. They will meet with Captain Hawkins at the Rockhampton Military Barracks at 2.30pm.

** The full transcript of Air Commander Meier’s comments in Parliament can be found here: http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/transcript/defence-white-paper-talisman-sabre-swine-flu-preparedness

We'll continue to keep you updated, and online video footage should be available later in the day.


Networker and Melbourne Peace Activist Dale Hess
advises that yesterday's article by Barney Swartz
has gone big time -
picked up by CommonDreams.org
You can read it here.


Coal for breakfast?

There is a saying about us here in Australia:
If it moves shoot it.
If it stands still, mine it.

That saying probably came from our own droll sense of humour. This next one came from a marketing company:
Queensland. Beautiful one day. Perfect the next.

I've come up with another which expresses both sayings in one:
Beautiful one day.
Mined the next.

I am an expatriate Queenslander exiled and living in Melbourne. Many moons ago, I lived in Toowoomba on the Darling Downs. The Darling Downs and the neighbouring South Burnett region were ancestral homelands for one branch of the family tree: places like Pinelands, near Crows Nest; Bunya Mountains; Neumga near Nanango; Maidenwell; Cooyar (where my grandparents were the first to be married inthe Catholic Church there); MacLagan; Kingaroy. As you can no doubt guess, I came from farming stock at a time when most Australians living in urban areas had relatives back on the farm to whom they would go to for holidays.

The Darling Downs is a beautiful part of the world: a major granary and a major wool producer. Rich soils under cloudless blue skies for miles on end. The sort of place in which you wouldn't travel without picnic basket and thermos at the ready.

On my recent visit from Brisbane to Toowoomba, I didn't get out on to the Downs proper but the urban blight contaminating the landscape up through the Lockyer Valley to the Toowoomba Range made me wish I hadn't made the journey. When I left the Downs just over 30 years ago, the blight had started but it was minimal. Now it has sped up along Warrego Highway and the memories of rolling green paddocks made me want to weep.

Just as I want to weep when I see the video at the top of this blog. If we let this go irreparably to coal, what does this say about Australian society, Australian governments, Australian corporations. It says that we are after the quick buck taken from leasehold land, mining leases.

True, much of our pastoral and agricultural land was once taken the same way and those interests were not unlike miners insofar as they picked the most suitable country from which to "mine" its contribution to agricultural production. That sort of tenure has long since gone and there has been too much hard labour and sacrifice by men, women and children poured into winning a livelihood from the land to think to hard on the actual investment made.

We now live in a land of competing resources: mining -v- agriculture and both compete with urbanised communities for dwindling clean water resources. We are playing one resource off against another as if we can afford to play this game as long as all the balls stay up in the air.

Of course, the balls won't stay in the air. Governments will see to it that agricultural land is swallowed up to miners or land developers. As the video points out, we can't eat coal for breakfast. We can't drink clean water when it is no more because of our own carelessness and bad management. What a bequest to future generations.

Our friendly Network, Denis from The Nature of Robertson, has sent the following Statement from the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Churches on the Darling Downs. Clearly, the churches are standing right where they should be: beside their people. Listen. Because, it is not only here that the battle is being fought. It is also being fought in the equally rich Liverpool Plains of NSW - and I am sure, dear Networkers, you will write and tell me of others facing similar impending catastrophes.


A Statement of Concern Regarding Mining and Agriculture on the Darling Downs

The local leadership of the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Churches on the Darling Downs have great concerns about the impact of some proposed mining activity on prime agricultural land. They support calls for a regional plan that would identify areas which could be mined and others which should be kept for sustainable agriculture and food production. Two areas in the region currently under consideration for coal mining are Felton and Haystack Plain.

Caring for creation is a strong part of the three Christian traditions. We believe that we are called to be wise stewards of the earth. In terms of our fragile planet we are facing an ecological crisis. Respect for nature and ecological responsibility are key parts of our faith.

Transformation to wise and sustainable use of the environment is at heart a spiritual matter. Environmental concern is a legitimate and necessary part of a Christian's response to God's loving provision for us. (Green by Grace A Report prepared for the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia 2004)

Experience shows that disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence, and vice versa. It becomes more and more evident that there is an inseparable link between peace with creation and peace. (Message of his HolinessPope Benedict XVI for the celebration of the World Day of Peace 1 January 2007)

We are concerned with the basic human rights of future generations and will urge the wise use of energy, the protection of the environment and the replenishment of the earth’s resources for their use and enjoyment. (Uniting Church, Statement to the Nation, 1977)

As communities of faith we stand in solidarity with those farmers who fear for their security and future way of life at this time. We also understand the contribution of mining and the generation of electricity in our region. We have a particular perspective on development which centres on the human person, the family and the community. When we consider future planning or development our primary question would be, “What is happening to the people?” rather than “What is happening to the economy?”

With the current world food shortage we believe it is important to protect land that has a history of sustainable food production. With a growing understanding about the impact of climate change we would also urge the Queensland State government to consider alternatives to coal mining in the Felton and Haystack Plain districts. These alternatives should be more sustainable and contribute more to the local community and economy.

We have concerns that the proposed coal mines will have an irreversible damaging impact on the soil and people of Haystack Plains and Felton. We would urge respectful and genuine dialogue between the resources and agricultural sector. For generations farmers in the Felton and Haystack Plains district have produced food for the wider Australian and international community. They have adapted their practises to ensure that future families can also live from and with the land. Our hope is that decisions made on the future use of these areas are based on the common good of all humanity.

Bishop Rob Nolan (Bishop of the Western Region, Anglican Diocese of Brisbane)

Bishop William Morris (Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba)

Sharon Kirk (Presbytery Minister Uniting Church in Australia Downs Presbytery)


Monday, July 13, 2009

Silver Wattle: a place for a dream fulfilled?

Quakers in the unprogrammed tradition (Australian Friends are in the unprogrammed tradition) do not have ministers and very few paid positions. There are no theological colleges. This, however, does not stop Quakers from studying within their tradition. However, in Britain and in the USA there are Quaker study centres: Woodbrooke in Britain, Pendle Hill in the USA. Over the years, many Friends (Quakers are properly called the Religious Society of Friends) in Australia have discussed the possibility of a study centre somewhere in Australia.

Tentative steps are now being taken towards an Australian Quaker Centre at Silver Wattle near Bungendore not too far from Canberra, the national capital. Plans are being made. Courses have been listed, the brochure published. Please hold the Australian Quaker Centre in The Light.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gleaning as a spiritual practice.

Over at Godspace, Christine has a wonderful little exercise going under the title of What is a Spiritual Practice? This takes my fancy, somewhat.

You see, in this day and age, many people - even a very good Marxist atheist friend of mine - admit to spirituality. May people consider themselves spiritual or spiritual seekers while not owning a specific spiritual tradition. And, I say to myself, why not? If, as some of us believe, we are here to learn stuff and that stuff is of a spiritual nature, then all of us, whether we realise it or are oblivious to it, are on a spiritual journey.

Some of us do this in formal and structured ways. We study religious texts. We pray in certain ways. We study in certain institutions. Some of us though find ourselves entering the spiritual dimension in multitudinous ways. While I express my spirituality through two traditions - Anglican and Quaker - I find that in living my life the spiritual is expressed in many ways.

The responses Christine has attracted are testimony to this. I wish to add another: gleaning. For over forty years, I have been gleaning one way or another. Sometimes through auction sales. Sometimes through second hand shops and through eBay. However, perhaps the most satisfying has been through gleaning from the "hard rubbish" people place on footpaths.

OK, OK. I can hear some of you raising your hands in horror saying...But that's illegal. You can be fined for that. Ah well, you will have to put my actions down to plain old fashioned civil disobedience. Gleaning is an ancient tradition although in ancient ways it applied to what was left after the harvesters had completed their task. We read in the Book of Ruth that Ruth, in her asylum-seeking state, went out to glean. Boaz was compassionate and asked the harvesters to secretly leave a little more for her.

I see no difference in my gleaning from the "hard rubbish" of someone's left-overs on the footpath than gleaning for grain in a paddock. And, in my experience, most people who put out "hard rubbish" don't seem to either.

In fact, the habits of those who put out rubbish are quite thoughtful and amusing sometimes. Householders are clearly aware that their cast-off stuff will be of use to someone and, on many occasions, the goods are placed or stacked neatly. I have seen wardrobes left with a door deliberately ajar to attract people's attention to their good condition. I have seen china and kitchenware so neatly and carefully stacked that I wonder why it has been placed on the footpath when it could have been delivered to a nearby Op Shop.

And, having gleaned my selections, what comes next? For me, this is a most spiritual experience. I renovate, rejuvenate, refurbish. I make the discarded valuable once more. And I think that is what my Creator does with me. I get stripped back, re-finished, a few decorative touches and re-channeled into useful service.

Just look at the picture on this post. It is of an outdoor eating area. There is hardly a thing in this photograph that has not come off someone's footpath in the City of Knox. The table - well, I think I am the only one who could have seen its possibilities. It had peeling varnish which had turned green from exposure. The table top was rough because clearly it had been left in the open to all weathers. I sanded it back; painted it; made a nice trellis pattern; and then decorated it with flowers cut from a calendar bought at a Girl Guides garage sale. The chairs with the pink and mauve cushions at either end of the table were as good as new except that a weld had come apart. I paid $20 at a neighbourhood welding shop to have them repaired. I painted them my favourite not quite white to give them a shabby chic look. The baskets, the trellis, the hanging pots etc. etc....

And for my time and effort and gleaning, I have something original and creative. I have something that I can share with others as I bring in that other spiritual practice of hospitality.


Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God

Peacemaking and pacifism are deeply embedded in the Christian tradition - although some of our brothers and sisters, particularly in the USA, do not seem to comprehend this and glorify the military and war.

At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

Blessed are the peacemakers:
for they shall be called the children of God.

Matthew 5:9

To honour those disciples involved in the recent protests near Rockhampton, Queensland, I have created a Peace Wordle. For more information, please go to Jarrod McKenna's site on Facebook.


Monday, July 06, 2009

A glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom

The bird shall dwell with the cat, their young shall lie down together . . . .


Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Tribute to Thomas Berry (1914-2009),
Scholar, Visionary, Planet Lover
Mary Evelyn Tucker

Friends, students, and colleagues are mourning the passing of one of the great philosophers of our time. Thomas Berry, teacher, visionary, and author, left us with a story of the emergence of the universe and our extraordinary place in its unfolding.
“The basic mood of the future might well be one of confidence in the continuing revelation that takes place in and through the Earth. If the dynamics of the Universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the Earth, if this same dynamics brought forth the continents and the seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and functioning of the Universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture.”

—Thomas Berry, "The New Story" from The Dream of the Earth
A journey of nearly four decades with Thomas Berry has been one of the greatest gifts of my life, as it has been for countless others.

What is it that we all share—those of us who admire his unflagging spirit, his self-effacing manner, his compassionate visage, his penetrating insights, and his comprehensive vision?

It is a feeling of deep companionship that Thomas evokes—we are walking together somehow. Yes, the journey is long, and difficult. We may stumble or lose our way. But with Thomas another future is possible for the Earth community, and he empowers us to engage in the great work of imagining that future. In a time saturated with false promises and misplaced hopes amidst ecological destruction and economic unraveling, his steady evocation of an emerging Ecozoic era ignites human energy in vibrant and unexpected ways.

Thomas, in his brown corduroy coat, year after year while teaching at Fordham University and beyond, called us into the vast sweep of evolutionary dynamics. He lit up our imagination with a story of universe emergence from star birth and galaxy formation to life on Earth.

But there was more. Thomas wove us into the story—seeing us as beings who are biologically and historically grounded. He understood us as arising out of an immense journey of Earth and universe. He helped us to see our connections from the microcosm to the macrocosm, from the great flaring forth to the beauty of flowers and seeds, fish and birds. Thomas’ enduring appreciation for the communion of subjects in this process is something that has profoundly reshaped our minds and hearts.

Thomas’ inclusion of all of life in his own large embrace is what fills us with an ever greater capacity to enter into life’s rhythms and demands—shaping, against all odds, the clay of a life-giving future. There is no one who has held us to such high aspirations so steadily and with such humor and grace.

It is this remarkable gift that we celebrate in Thomas. Over and over again he stuns us with language that evokes companionship on a great journey—universe formation, Earth’s unfolding, life’s arising, human dreaming. He calls us to find our deep alignment with the powers that have sustained this remarkable epic.

Here now in the early 21st century, a new journey is beginning where the life story and the human story are becoming realigned. Thomas has planted the seeds to sustain this great transition and given us remarkable companions for the road ahead. For all of this gratitude, indeed, abounds.

A Brief Biography of Thomas Berry (1914-2009)
Thomas Berry was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1914. From his academic beginnings as a historian of world cultures and religions, Berry developed into a historian of the Earth and its evolutionary processes. He described himself as a “geologian.”

He received his PhD in European Intellectual History with a thesis on Giambattista Vico's philosophy of history. Widely read in Western history, he also spent many years studying the cultural history of Asia. He lived in China and traveled to other parts of Asia. He authored two books on Asian religions, Buddhism and Religions of India (distributed by Columbia University Press).

For two decades, he directed the Riverdale Center of Religious Research along the Hudson River just north of New York City. During this period he taught at Fordham University where he established and chaired the history of religions program. He attracted students from all over North America and directed some 25 doctoral theses. Along with Ted deBary he founded the Asian Thought and Religion Seminar at Columbia.

In 1995 he “retired” to his home city of Greensboro, North Carolina, where he continued to write, lecture, and receive visitors. His major contributions to the discussion on the environment are in his books The Dream of the Earth (Sierra Club Books, 1988 reprinted, 2006), The Great Work: Our Way into the Future (Random House, 1999) and, with Brian Swimme, The Universe Story (Harper San Francisco, 1992). Sierra Club Books and University of California Press jointly published his collection of essays, Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community in 2006.

Two new books of Berry's will be available this fall:
The Sacred Universe (Columbia University Press); and
The Christian Future and the Fate of Earth (Orbis Books).

Mary Evelyn Tucker and her husband, John Grim, are long-time editors of Thomas' work. They were graduate students of Thomas at Fordham University and he inspired them in founding the Forum on Religion and Ecology which they direct at Yale University.

See a more complete biography and some of his essays at www.thomasberry.org
Source from Yes Magazine

Further reading:
Please continue to his Month's Mind.
If you would like to contribute your experience of Thomas Berry
in and on your life
- and especially, but not exclusively, in an Australian context -
please send a paragraph or so to