Thomas Berry writes: 

The perfection of the Universe. Photo by NASA on Unsplash.

If Saint John and Saint Paul could think of the Christ form of the universe, if Aquinas could say that the whole universe together participates in the divine goodness more perfectly and represents it better than any single creature whatever, and if Teilhard could insist that the human gives to the entire cosmos its most sublime mode of being, then it should not be difficult to accept the universe itself as the primordial sacred community, the macrophase mode of every religious tradition, the context in which the divine reality is revealed to itself in that diversity which in a special manner is ‘the perfection of the universe.‘       

Not only can a deepened awareness of the earth and the cosmos bring nations together — it can also bring religions together. For “the universe itself [is] the primordial sacred community.”  The Earth becomes the context of every divine revelation and indeed a “grand Liturgy.”   

Berry sees this thread of understanding in the entire Christian tradition from Paul and John in the New Testament to Aquinas in the Middle Ages and Teilhard de Chardin in the twentieth century.

“Thomas Berry: The Great Story” about how, if we want to save the Earth, we need to view the world as a sacred community. On YouTube.

Yet the sacred cosmos does not just inspire the Christian tradition but all religious traditions. It can bring us together in common work and ethics and inspiration. Are we ready?

 Only now have we begun to listen with some attention and with a willingness to respond to the earth’s demands that we cease our industrial assault, that we abandon our inner rage against the conditions of our earthly existence, that we renew our human participation in the grand liturgy of the universe. . . . None of our existing cultures can deal with this situation out of its own resources. We must invent, or reinvent, a sustainable human culture by a descent into our prerational, our instinctive, resources. Our cultural resources have lost their integrity. They cannot be trusted.

Drawing upon our inner mystic. Photo by Iva Rajović on Unsplash.

We have only begun to listen to how we have harmed Mother Earth. And the only way out of the dead-end we find ourselves in is to listen to earth’s pain and to call on our “prerational, our instinctive, resources.”

We must each call up the mystic in ourselves therefore. We have to move beyond culture as we know it, civilization as we know it. What is the alternative if we do not take these steps?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, pp. 364, 360.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner image: The divine goodness of our Universe. Photo by NASA on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Is it true that we possess an “inner rage against the conditions of our earthly existence?  And that our cultural resources have lost their integrity?” And yet the “Grand Liturgy of the universe” beckons us to something greater?

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15 thoughts on “Thomas Berry on the Cosmic Christ”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, You begin today by sharing Thomas Berry’s ideas that if Saint John, Saint Paul, Aquinas and Teilhard could see the goodness of the earth within the cosmos, then it should not be difficult to accept the universe itself as sacred and where the divine reality is revealed to itself in that diversity which in a special manner is “the perfection of the universe.” Then you add: “Yet the sacred cosmos does not just inspire the Christian tradition but all religious traditions. It can bring us together in common work and ethics and inspiration. Are we ready?” I believe that is what “Deep Ecumenism ” is all about: All of the religions working together for the common good.
    You ask us if we have an “inner rage against the conditions of our earthly existence?” Of course! And yet the “Grand Liturgy of the universe” beckons us to something greater…

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    It seems like our global civilization is going through a collective chaotic phase transition forcing humanity to shed our deadly divisions and renew our engagement with the universe at large. Matthew is bringing forward the mystic wisdom of ages past to act as vision/guides through this transition to an Alpha/Omega “One-ing”.

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    The nature of creative cooperation and committed collaboration is the immense and tremendous gravitational movement of the Spirit of the Divine Love of God. The original blessing and the reality of this eternal essence and living presence of the conscious love of God; continously reveals itself, in all its diversity, goodness, beauty and sacredness; making known the interconnectivity, interreliability and interdependability of this One Divine Love, which holds all that exists in balance and harmony. Mostly throughout history, humanity has resisted and denied this movement of the Spirit of the Divine Love of God, rather than descending and surrendering in faith, hope and trust to the reality of this eternal essence and living presence of the conscious love of God within our own hearts, minds and souls. And yet, this Divine Love steadfastly seeks and beckon us to something greater, longing to unfold, evolve and emerge from within.

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    The new story that Berry and Teilhard gave us the ingredients to tell has yet to be told, and yes, that’s owing to the “loss of integrity” (fragmentation of disciplines) characteristic of our splintered age. Advances have been made in science, technology, transportation, and medicine, but not in theology, which remains bogged down in the Middle Ages, unable to reveal to other fields how they are linked to itself, each other, and God in an integrated whole. We gaze at stars with advanced optical resolution but must rely on the unsatisfying metaphors of medieval mystics, instead of telling a struggling world how the images we see fit into the greater story it cannot see, does not know, and therefore cannot tell. Maintaining relevance in explaining how all these advances fit together in a coordinated whole for the greater well-being of the planet falls to religion, which, failing to evolve like other disciplines, has forfeited its mandate to be on the vanguard in this way.

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      Physics is the field of science that shows tantalizing hints that might reflect what mystics perceive, but demanding that religions switch (back) to embracing their mystical roots is exceedingly difficult when many branches no longer even realize that there WAS a mystical layer of meaning in their sacred texts. Many are suspicious of and hostile to mysticism. It might be easier to prove quantum mysticism (!) than to prove to contemporary theologians that mysticism was an integral, intentional, valuable, and deeply important dimension of their sacred texts. I suspect that the Reformation was when a lot of the knowledge about mysticism was lost or suppressed. Mysticism faded out, then confusion and suspicion replaced it.

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        Exactly, Melinda. Space-time bubbles forth and is quantized (spiritualized) by the 4th dimension. Show that as objective fact in the created order, by what energy and means, and by what spiritual practices one can access same, and it’s a more crossable bridge for the post-modern mind. And it obviates the need for tribal religions, as they’re all talking about the same Spirit using different cultural inflections and rituals.

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    Yes, Matthew, thank you for this beautiful meditation! Contemporary mystics like Thomas Berry and Teilhard de Chardin, like past mystics, are calling and reminding us that the “Grand Liturgy of the universe” ~ our Sacred Cosmos within, among, and All around us ~ is calling us to something greater… Our mystic Soul within our human selves is compassionately asking to be reborn/be made conscious within our selves, with-in one another, with-in Sacred Mother Earth and All Her creatures, and with-in All our Sacred multiverse Living, Evolving, Present co-Creation~Cosmos in Loving Divine Oneness — our Beloved Cosmic Christ Consciousness….

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    I believe there is an inner rage against the conditions of our earthly existence that has existed in the development of most of what we have, for millenia, erroneously been calling “the civilized world.” Our culture has been focused on taming nature to fit our desires instead of living in community with it. Living in Arizona among native people, I see indigenous people who live within the beautiful confines of the world we have been given. The Hopi particularly, because the tribe still lives on their ancestral land, know how to live, to eat, to grow food, and to worship in their own natural terrain–and we are talking about a high dry desert ecosystem. We European-Americans——don’t we always want to go acquire more instead of finding the peace, the contentment, and the sufficiency of raising our children in our own natural world and accepting the blessings it has been giving us all along?

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    I love the idea and the reality that the sacred earth is singing the grand liturgy. Such a spectacular liturgy.

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    The Rev. Dr. King’s concept of the beloved community is expanded to include the whole universe, which is sacred in and of itself. The inner rage, like the temper tantrums of a child, has done nothing but destroy. The call for unity, for deep ecumenical work, is necessary but too many existing forms of religion are culturally-bound rather than based on the Holy Spirit, and they teach fear rather than love. We are fortunate in having modern mystics like Matthew Fox and others to point the way, if only enough people listen.

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    Yes, something cosmic and good is calling us to a new reality. However, that “inner rage against the conditions of our earthly existence” prevails in that we are no longer content (were we ever?) with simply /being/ and helping and allowing all other beings to simply /be/. Unless we can some how make a major shift (and I don’t even know what to call that shift other than it will have to be major beyond all imagination), I’m afraid the human experiment on earth will be a huge failure. Cultural resources have been usurped by governments and in that way have definitely lost their power and integrity: what we are given instead are usually misguided manipulations of politicians and often fall way short of goals. There is a glimmer of hope, however, in the emergence of a “can do” attitude at the most local levels; meaningful change will come from there. Examples of positive change coming from the people: and

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    Don’t be encaged in any religion. Be religious.
    Create the vastness of sky which is already there. You just have to discover it within you. And you will be free of all prisons, of all religions, and of all the Holy Bibles, the holy Koran, the holy Gita .The only holy place is within you. And once you have known it, then you know that it is within everybody. Wherever there is life, all over there is sacredness, holiness
    Billy ❤️

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