Thomas Berry, cultural historian, scholar, and Passionist priest, is founder and director of the Riverdale Center for Religious Research in New York City. He has taught at the Institute for Asian Studies at Seton Hall University, the Center for Asian Studies at St. John’s University, Columbia University, Drew University, and the University of San Diego, and was professor of the history of religions at Fordham University. Influenced by Teilhard de Chardin, Berry is a pioneer in ecological theology. His "Riverdale Papers," obtained through the Riverdale Center, have had a wide impact on many seeking connections between religious self-understanding and the modem evolutionary paradigm. His most recent book in ecological theology, published by Sierra Club, is Dream of the Earth.
This essay originally appeared as chapter 11, pp. 151-158 in Charles Birch, William Eaken and Jay B. McDaniel (eds.) Liberating Life: Contemporary Approaches in Ecological Theology, published 1990 by Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York 10545. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
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The subject with which we are concerned is the spirituality of the earth. By this I do not mean a spirituality that is directed toward an appreciation of the earth. I speak of the earth as subject, not as object. I am concerned with the maternal principle out of which we were born and whence we derive all that we are and all that we have. In our totality we are born of the earth. We are earthlings. The earth is our origin, our nourishment, our support, our guide. Our spirituality itself is earth-derived. If there is no spirituality in the earth, then there is no spirituality in ourselves. The human and the earth are totally implicated each in the other.