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The Sacred Universe: Earth, Spirituality, and Religion in the Twenty-first Century Hardcover – Sep 16 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (Sept. 16 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231149522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231149525
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.5 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #165,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Dedicated readers of ecology, theology, or religious philosophy will want to savor each one [of these essays].

(Library Journal)

The volume is a fair encapsulation of the intellectual concerns for which Berry is best known.

(Christina Peppard Commonweal)

Thoams Berry demonstrattes in these papers the qualities he calls for: humanist vision and imagination.


When encountering the essays, one is struck by the clarity of analyses showing humanity's destructive antagonism toward the Earth. In them we observe the gradual evocation of a vision in which this antagonism is overcome so that we can live in harmony and peace on our planetary home.

(Norman Wirzba Journal of the American Academy of Religion)

The Sacred Universe is an important, inspiring compendium of the thought of a great soul and spiritually profound seeker, who cogently and consistently reminds, even after his death, that we must learn to feel at home in the universe.

(Stephen B. Scharper America)

This text will serve as an excellent introduction to [Thomas] Berry...

(Peter Ellard, Siena College The International Journal of Environmental Studies)


By developing a sustained critique of technology-enhanced consumerism, Berry makes a powerful call for a return to core values that include connectivity with nature and a quest for a reimagination of religious meaning.

(Christopher Key Chapple, Loyola Marymount University)|

These essays are vintage yet original Berry. He leads the discussion to the significance of our era of global awareness, cultural encounters, ecological degradation, scientific marvels, and religious impasses and requirements, offering new insights into the necessity of a deep rapprochement between science and religion/spirituality and why religions need science to move into an ecological phase. Unique, perceptive, and compelling—a requirement for anyone concerned about the role of religion and the future of life on Earth.

(Heather Eaton, Saint Paul University)|

One of the leading voices broadening the environmental movement to include ethical and spiritual values.

(Gus Speth, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies)|

Berry's essays enable us to follow the broadening and deepening vision of a passionate lover of wisdom. Berry is one of the few who inherited the ancient task of philosophy: to seek comprehensive understanding of the most important questions as a guide to life. His journey brought him to realize that the planetary future is in our hands. While others scattered their interests and efforts over many fields, Berry rightly saw this as the challenge of our day. With insight that is unexcelled, he writes graciously but uncompromisingly about the profound changes that must occur individually and collectively.

(John B. Cobb Jr., Claremont School of Theology)|

Like a flash of lightning on a dark night, Thomas Berry illuminated the darkness of our time like no other. We are all in his debt for helping us see that what ails us has less to do with better technology or a bigger economy and more to do with finding our spiritual bearings in the age he calls the Ecozoic. For the universe story that he tells so powerfully, there is no finer or truer storyteller than Berry.

(David Orr, Oberlin College)|

In essays sparkling with thought-provoking insights, The Sacred Universe explores the dimensions of a new, creation-centered spirituality for the emerging global community. Thomas Berry challenges modern civilization and the world's religions to awaken anew to the sacred presence pervading the natural world and to recognize that the primary sacred community is the community of life as a whole and the larger evolving universe. The reader will find in Berry's essays an illuminating approach to the reconciliation of science and religion and the building of a just, sustainable, and peaceful future.

(Steven C. Rockefeller, Middlebury College, and co-chair, Earth Charter International Council)|

The Sacred Universe is destined to become a classic for its new answers to ancient questions: Who are we in relation to the universe? How shall we then live? The book could not come at a more critical time. Current environmental emergencies call for wisdom greater than any the world has ever seen. Thomas Berry's book is thus an essential gift, offering great wisdom that is deeply informed by ancient cultures and contemporary cosmology. We must set aside the pathologically anthropocentric stories that have failed to prevent us from devastating life that took fourteen billion years to fully flower, Berry writes, and tell new stories that celebrate the unity of life—the planet Earth and the universe as a single sacred community and humans as its jubilant expression. It's unreasonable to think that any one man's vision can save us, but Berry can set us firmly on our way to saving ourselves.

(Kathleen Dean Moore, author of The Pine Island Paradox: Making Connections in a Disconnected World)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith TOP 500 REVIEWER on Oct. 18 2011
Format: Hardcover
This collection of Berry's essays spans about three decades, and captures the evolution of his thought. We watch a grand vision struggling to come out. The first efforts are wordy, dense, and filled with theological language. Berry is struggling to bring his whole religious heritage with him into the new ecological age. With each attempt his writing grows clearer in focus. He argues less against outdated sentiments, and stresses the glories of life to be saved. Finally, he becomes a grand old prophet, regaling us with admiration for the sacred cosmos.

--author of The Gardens of Their Dreams: Desertification and Culture in World History
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 22 reviews
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
A Text for Religious Educators. Dec 30 2009
By Jack Dougher - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ordained or not, no purveyor of religion today should teach without having had an extensive course using this book as one of its texts. It is too important to be relegated to those relatively few who are self-starting, spiritual seekers or environmentalists. This book deserves being used as a companion to the sacred scriptures of each and every religion. Thomas Berry has gotten to the heart of the reform of consciousness without which nothing else can adequately address our ecological crisis. His passing this year at the age of 90 is a sore loss, but this book along with other of his writings will continue to enlighten and bless us.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
The place of the human in the universe Jan. 21 2010
By M. Clare Pierson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Do you wonder about what the future holds for the earth and humans? This book is based on sound science and goes beyond science to give meaning to evolution, the connectedness of all that is and the place of the human on the earth. From where does the consciousness of humans come? where is evolving consciousness leading us? Explore what the extraordinarly perceptive mind of Thomas Berry presents in relation to these questions. Another work by this author is [[ASIN:0609804995 The Great Work: Our Way into the Future
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Recommended for spirituality collections Dec 19 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Sacred Universe: Earth, Spirituality, and Religion in the Twenty-First Century is edited by Mary Evelyn Tucker and comes from one of the 20th century's scholarly thinkers on spiritual intersection between humans and the natural world. Berry was a leading scholar and Catholic priest who spent over fifty years writing about earth and spirituality: THE SACRED UNIVERSE's essays represent his best writings and are recommended for spirituality collections.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
a must read for those concerned about global warming and the fate the planet Oct. 13 2013
By Veronica Catan - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These are beautiful reflections on how beautiful and precious the planet Earth is. It explains how the real purpose of religion is to care for creation rather than being redeemed out of it. It also suggests that a sacred dimension is revealed much more clearly in nature than in Biblical texts.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The Sacred Cosmos May 24 2010
By zenhole - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas Berry's timely work came into my possession as the oil disaster spread its killing stain throughout the entire Gulf of Mexico. Commentators seem concerned as to how we shall clean up the shores. The real question is "How far can the pollution travel if the well is unable to be stopped?" Is it possible that the pollution could spread to the entire earth? Would that not be the first act of the end of life on earth as we know it? If this can occur when ONE well fails, what would happen if they were all made to fail?
"The Sacred Universe" presents the mystery and miracle of Cosmic evolution, starting from a point of no dimensions, a creation "ex nihilo", through revelation through scriptures of all religions, and the personal experience of meditation wherein the wonders are received, used and praised. The icon which focuses our attention on this reality, is the photo of the earth and moon taken by the Galileo Probe. The blue/white marble of the earth contrasts to the barren brown of the moon as the only place in the Cosmos on which we know it to be the absolute perfect balance of conditions to allow the evolution of intelligent life to appreciate the wonder of it all and to help prevent the destruction of this paradise through technological possibility. Try to imagine that marble as all black.
The Sacred Universe is a cosmic "Silent Spring", that calls upon spiritualities and religions to embrace the whole cosmic evolution as the Divine Word Itself.