Thomas Berry, Dreamer of the Earth: The Spiritual Ecology of the Father of Environmentalism, edited by Ervin Laszlo and Allan Combs
Inner Traditions, 9781594773952, 160 pp., 2011
Dreamer of the Earth is a collection of essays written by intellectuals and eco-activists regarding the impact of Berry’s writings on their lives and philosophies as well as a lengthy essay by Thomas Berry himself. Thomas Berry was a Christian mystic, a student of Thomas Aquinas and Teilhard de Chardin his writings remain some of the most thoughtful commentary on the modern condition produced in the last 80 years.
Alan Combs’ introduction to the text is excellent, as are the essays by Mathew Fox “Participatory Consciousness”, “Sacred Sites”, which has five authors to its credit, and, of course, Thomas Berry’s essay regarding what he coined the “Ecozoic Era” or our contemporary age. That being said, each of the ten essays which comprise the book will provide some food for thought as each deals with whatever aspect of Berry’s visionary perspective on life and the planet most influenced them.
I feel the text at times glosses over Thomas Berry’s primary belief that dreams of transcendence and utopia are not the answer but rather the cause of our current predicament. Joanna Macy’s essay in particular seems hopelessly utopian. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel that here in this text was a window into a sustainable and realistic new perspective on the planet and our role within it.
Overall, the essays collected in the book itself do an impressive job of conveying the sometimes complex spiritual perspectives of a contemporary visionary. Each of the book’s contributors will get the reader wondering, if about nothing else, the life of this compelling and modern mystic.