Another reason the cosmos is on my mind these days is that I am currently co-teaching a class through Shift Network with cosmologist Brian Swimme on Science, Spirituality and the Noosphere.
While we have known each other for over 44 years and have taught together over the years first at the Institute of Culture and Creation Spirituality (ICCS) at Mundelein College in Chicago and then at ICCS at Holy Names College in Oakland, it has been a while since we taught together. We also wrote a short book together, Manifesto for a Global Civilization, some 42 years ago.
It was Berry who said that “ecology is functional cosmology,” which translates (in my opinion) to this: If we are to stand up to climate change and thereby preserve the Earth as we know it and therefore preserve our species, we ought to awaken to the cosmos and awe of the cosmos with the subsequent reverence and gratitude that are foundational to care of the Earth.
Berry says that the sense of the sacred that is essential for survival of the planet is recovered only by awakening to “our sacred story,” which is “the epic of evolution” of our universe, for “the universe is the primary sacred reality.”
Indeed, we will recover our sense of wonder and our sense of the sacred only if we appreciate the universe beyond ourselves as a revelatory experience of that numinous presence whence all things come into being.
This is why science and spirituality must work together today. And that means that the awe that the Webb Telescope is gifting us with needs to become a fire in our belly and hearts, liturgies and ceremonies. Indeed, liturgy or ritual is the most ancient, quickest and surest way to bring awe and gratitude for our shared existence alive in our communities.
Queries for Contemplation
Tom Berry equates a sense of the sacred with a sense of wonder and awe. How is that your experience as well? How can we render that everyone’s experience?
Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations
As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us I wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice. This revolutionary book does just that. Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations. Study and practice these teachings. Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth