Thomas Berry, who passed away in 2009, was not only one of the key figures of the 20th century environmental movement, but a seminal figure of ecospirituality. His was a balanced blend of Catholic theology and a deep appreciation of nature on par with that of St. Francis of Assisi. Pagans should not let his Christianity turn them away, though; there’s much that we would recognize in what he wrote.
This text, however, is not by Berry himself. Rather, it is a collection of essays reflecting on his works and his life. Each writer or set of writers takes a different angle: some approach his concept of inscendence, a sort of visionary experience that leads to deeper enlightenment, while others appreciate his work with sacred sites, special places in nature that he considered especially meaningful. Berry’s call to move from the Anthropocene to the Ecological Age is also covered, along with his impact on the Western Spiritual Tradition.
First, be aware that if you haven’t read any of Berry’s works (The Dream of the Earth is considered to be a good introduction) you may not get as much out of this book as others might. Additionally, many of the authors frequently write in fairly academic voices, which may be a bit more difficult to digest. And of the fourteen writers, only two are women.
Still, there are good thoughts in here. The collection does outline some common theme in Berry’s work, good for further consideration of his writings. They take his already accessible works, and show how they’re even more relevant to a broad range of people affected by environmental crises. And each writer holds Berry in high esteem; the respect they have for him comes through with each page.
Whether you’re a seasoned Thomas Berry fan, or just introducing yourself to his work, this is a nice complement to his works.
~ review by Lupa
Editors: Ervin Laszlo and Allan Combs
Inner Traditions, 2011