A Late Tribute to Thomas Berry

Thomas Berry died June 3rd. I have read more of his work than actually read his work. But after reading Andy Revkin’s obituary in The New York Times, that’ll change. As Revkin notes:

As Dr. Berry explained in a 2006 interview with the filmmaker Caroline Webb, “From here on, the primary judgment of all human institutions, professions, programs and activities will be determined by the extent to which they inhibit, ignore or foster a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship.”

He said the transformation of humanity’s priorities would not come easily. It would require what he called “the great work” — the title of one of his most popular books — in four realms of endeavor: the political and legal order; the economic and industrial world; education; and religion.

This is exactly the goal of State of the World 2010: to talk about the Great Work of transforming the culture to center on sustainability.  I might challenge Berry’s four realms to also include the media, social movements, and broader traditions than just religion but regardless, as I read the obituary and then watched his interview with Caroline Webb, I felt quite sad that one of the Elders of true environmental thinking (along with another, Arne Naess) has recently returned to the Earth.  Perhaps they grew tired of watching humankind move further from where we need to go with each passing year? May Thomas’ body serve as nourishment for future life to come, but may his wisdom stay with the living.

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