“Throughout his life and writings Thomas Berry was involved in a great work of teaching, one aspect of which was his well-known book, Great Work: Our Way into the Future.
“We need new means of cultivating ourselves if we are to live differently on the earth. Developing and telling the new story is one component of establishing such cultivation. But the grand sweep of the longed-for cultivation is found only in cosmology. The universe contains a mystery of presence. Cosmology presents this mystery in myth, ritual, and dream; in liturgy, poetry, and music; in wisdom literature and renewed philosophies and theologies; in the plastic arts of all kinds — painting, sculpture, architecture. Cosmology as liturgy; cosmology as celebration.
“There is an immense question at the core of Berry’s great work of teaching: “How can humans enter the future with some responsible use of their creative freedom?”
“If the new story, the new cosmology, is itself one creative manifestation of the human, how is the new story itself related to the earth’s creativity?
“Berry’s own “Great Work” was the effort to found a new wisdom tradition drawing on the “Four Wisdoms” he expects to guide humanity in the twenty-first century: “the wisdom of indigenous peoples, the wisdom of women, the wisdom of the classical traditions, and the wisdom of science.”
“There is tremendous emphasis on the importance of story in the presentation of the emergent cosmology in much of Berry’s writing. But story, cosmology as story, indeed, any and all forms of cosmology are cultural products that themselves result from the fantastic explosiveness at the point where culture meets gene, where gene spawns culture. As we have seen, Berry steadily insisted that all received wisdoms stand in need of a total renewal that can come about only by re-immersion in our genetic coding, the coding that lies under our cultural coding and brings it into being. We need something even deeper than cultural renewal — we need a renewal at the species level. This is the radical Berry, the wild Berry.”
Read the full essay by David Schenck….