The Legacy of an Eco-Prophet: Remembering Thomas Berry

By Cesar Baldelomar 06-03-2009

Today's most pressing task for humanity, I believe, is to halt the current environmental crisis. Thus, churches worldwide should be working to reduce greenhouse gases, protesting the destruction of rain forests, and becoming a leading voice against the arrogant stance that humans are the pinnacle of God's creation. This idea that humans are above all creation, as well as the notion that Christians are not of this world, has led to a serious devaluation of creation in the Western world. After all, why should I care about nature if I am not dependent on it, and if my ultimate destination is a heavenly realm?

Consequently, we now find ourselves at a major turning point in human, and indeed earth, history. Several scientists have reported that global warming has become the greatest threat to human survival. And these same scientists have confirmed that humans and our activities are the main cause of earth's fever. Yet, there are still many who doubt the scientists' conclusions, and, sadly, the majority of them may be Christians. Wendell Berry has argued that "The certified Christian seems just as likely as anyone else to join the military-industrial conspiracy to murder Creation." Robin R. Meyers, in his book Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus, states that "The science we say we trust (unless it threatens our way of life or our religious beliefs) has spoken clearly, and our way of being in the world has become unsustainable"
(emphasis added).

To halt and reverse the ecological crisis presently enveloping our planet, we must raise consciousness of the universe's awesome story as an interdependent system still developing. One of the greatest storytellers of the universe story, Fr. Thomas Berry, passed away on the morning of June 1, 2009. Through his voluminous writings and life work as a prophetic cultural historian, ecological philosopher, and theologian, Berry lives on. Let us reflect on his life by acknowledging some of his significant contributions as an environmental spirituality teacher.

Thomas Berry, born November 9, 1914, in Greensboro, North Carolina, held that all must be seen within the context of the universe. Modern science

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