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A Theology for the Earth

The Contributions of Thomas Berry and Bernard Lonergan

Anne Marie Dalton

Publication Year: 1999

While many feel that something must be done, few perceive the state of the ecological crisis as a "profound religious problem." While Thomas Berry sought to fire the imagination and motivate his listener to action, Bernard Lonergan was absorbed by the growing gulf between traditional Christian theology and its relevance to modern problems. This book brings together the work of these dynamic thinkers and examines their mutual contribution to theology for our time and for our planet.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Title Page, Copyright

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FOREWORD

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pp. v-viii

I have seldom reflected on the epistemological or critical implications of my writings. Thus it is a special delight to read these pages of Anne Marie Dalton. They give me insights into my own thinking that I have seldom thought about in any conscious manner. It is particularly helpful to have her reflections done in the context of the epistemological and theological work of Bernard Lonergan. She is...

CONTENTS

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pp. ix-x

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-5

Scholars of religion are no strangers to challenges from the modern and post-modern world. In this latter half of the twentieth century, the ecological crisis is perhaps among the more difficult of these challenges. When the very foundations of life itself are threatened, how does one engage in reflection on one's religious faith? Thomas Berry was one of the first and most creative North American...

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CHAPTER ONE: THE METHOD AND TRADITION OF BERRY'S CULTURAL HISTORY

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pp. 7-32

Berry's first interest was cultural history, a designation he gave his own work and which remained significant. While on occasion he showed his awareness of political and social influences on the topic under discussion, it is clear throughout his work that his predominant focus was the influence of ideas and intellectual/spiritual movements in history. His penchant for tracing ideas across cultures and...

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CHAPTER TWO: THE INFLUENCE OF WORLD RELIGIONS

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pp. 33-59

Berry's professional career, his teaching and much of his scholarly research and writing, was in world religions, especially the religions of India and Asia. (His writings about North American native religions came later and within the context of the ecological crisis.) Within the field of world religions he remained primarily a cultural historian, interested in the ideas and events that shaped human...

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CHAPTER THREE: INTERACTION WITH THE THOUGHT OF TEILHARD DE CHARDIN

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pp. 61-75

Two early essays of Thomas Berry, "Creative Evolution" and "The Christian Process," suggest a reason for his initial interest in Teilhard. Berry, like Teilhard, raised questions about the increasing split he perceived between religion (Christianity, in particular) and the world of the twentieth century. They both attributed the increase in secularization and the growing sense of human...

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CHAPTER FOUR: THE INFLUENCE OF MODERN SCIENCE

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pp. 77-105

Given the nature of the genetic development of Berry's thought, it is no surprise that Berry's interest in science was primarily in scientific critiques of mainstream post-Enlightenment scientific methodology. While he always maintained a respect for many of the contributions of Western science, he relied especially in his own work on scientists who tested new waters and were often only tentatively accepted by...

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CHAPTER FIVE: BERRY'S PROPOSAL FOR THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS

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pp. 107-139

While most of the relevant categories of Bernard Lonergan's thought will be employed in more detail below, some comments about his distinction between two language categories (description and explanation) shed initial light on the nature of Berry's proposal. Succinctly stated, description deals with things as they relate to us; explanation with things as they relate to each other.1 So, for instance, to speak of...

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CHAPTER SIX: BERNARD LONERGAN AND EMERGENT PROBABILITY

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pp. 141-171

The previous chapters have been an attempt to understand Berry's response to the ecological crisis in the context of the genetic development of his thought and under the horizon that attracted him in the later years of his work. In moving the horizon to Christian theology, we move beyond the question of what Berry himself meant or intended to the further question, What aspects of his work are going...

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CHAPTER SEVEN: A THEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF BERRY'S PROPOSAL

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pp. 173-193

If theology is, as Lonergan described it, a mediation "between a cultural matrix and the significance and role of a religion in that matrix,"1 then there are two major questions that arise in considering Berry's contribution to Christian theology: (1) The methodological question: How is Berry's "new story" situated in terms of mediating between Christianity and culture? In Lonergan's terms, this is to ask...

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SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

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pp. 195-200

This work originated in a desire to discover the relationship between two urgencies of our times. The first was the ecological crisis and the second, the reform of Christian theology. The preliminary, largely untested insights that moved the project into actuality were that (1) as Thomas Berry had loudly and clearly proclaimed, the ecological...

BIBLIOGRAPHY—WORKS CITED

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pp. 201-215

INDEX

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pp. 217-223


E-ISBN-13: 9780776615318
E-ISBN-10: 0776615319
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776604787
Print-ISBN-10: 0776604783

Page Count: 223
Publication Year: 1999

Volume Title: 10
Series Title: Religion and Beliefs Series