The Big Ideas

Thomas Berry had many big ideas. Here are a few.

  • Earth is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.
  • The Four Great Establishments that Determine Our lives (that must be transformed, “be ecologized”):
    • Economic Establishment (especially the corporations)
    • Religious Establishment (the churches (synagogues, mosques, etc)
    • Intellectual Establishment (the university, education systems)
    • Political Establishment (the governments)
  • Earth is Primary

  • Our Current MomentThomas wanted us to be very sober and clear about where we were in the unfolding story of Earth and the Universe, what chapter we found ourselves living in. We live in the chapter at the end of the Cenozoic and the bifurcation point between the technozoic and Ecozoic eras. Just like when you read a map you need to know where you are in order to know how to plan your route to your destination. Humanity must plan its route into the future. On a smaller time scale, it is also important to know where we are in terms of cosmological forces, where we are situated on a daily, monthly, seasonal basis, as was done with the Hours of the Day in contemplative communities:
      • Day and Night World Map – put in your location to see the distribution of sunlight and shadow over the planet
      • The Moon Phase should be over here on the side >>>>>>
      • World human population As of February 14, 2011 08:09 UTC (EST+5):
        • U.S.  = 310,816,487
        • World = 6,899,845,810
      • Carbon Dioxide atmospheric parts per million
        • In January 2011, when I first posted this data to this site, the CO2 ppm was 391.19 as collected at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, NOAA-ESRL.
        • In March 2019 CO2 ppm was 411.97 as collected at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, NOAA-ESRL.
        • See today’s ppm at
      • Countries that constitutionally recognize the “rights of nature”:
  • Reinventing the Human

“Reinventing the Human” is one of Thomas Berry’s big ideas and one of his key phrases. He had a gifted way of putting big ideas into everyday words. To reinvent the human was one way to say “we have to start again but include Earth in our cultural forms”.

  • Mutually Enhancing

  • Earth Jurisprudence

    “Principles of Earth Jurisprudence” from Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature:

    By Cormac Cullinan with contributions from Thomas Berry. Cited in “Earth Jurisprudence: From Colonization to Participation” by Cormac Cullinan, State of the World 2010, State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability (p.144 & 145.)

    • The Earth Community and all the beings that constitute it have fundamental “rights”, including the right to exist, to have a habitat or a place to be, and to participate in the evolution of the Earth community.
    • The rights of each being are limited by the rights of other beings to the extent necessary to maintain the other beings to the extent necessary to maintain the integrity, balance, and health of the communities within it exists.
    • Human acts or laws that infringe these fundamental rights violate the fundamental relationships and principles that constitute the Earth community and are therefore illegitimate and “unlawful.”
    • Humans must adapt their legal, political, economic, and social systems to be consistent with the fundamental laws or principles that govern how the universe functions and guide humans to in accordance with these, which means that human governance systems at all times must take account of the interests of the whole Earth community and must:
      • Determine the lawfulness of human conduct by whether or not it strengthens or weakens the relationships that constitute the Earth community;
      • Maintain a dynamic balance between the rights of humans and those of other members of the Earth community on the basis of what is best for Earth as a whole;
      • Promote restorative justice (which focuses on restoring damaged relationships) rather than punishment (retribution; and
      • Recognize all members of the Earth community as subjects before the law, with the right to the protection of the law and to an effective remedy for human acts that violate their fundamental rights.


  • Psychic Energy

  • The Great Work

A clip from “Thomas Berry Speaks” by Martin Ostrow on YouTube

Film info is on this website at

  • The Universe Story