Interviewsand Articles


Living Cosmologies: Nature and Spirit Converging: Conversation with Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim

by Michael Lerner, Apr 22, 2010



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Mary Evelyn Tucker is a Senior Lecturer and Senior Scholar at Yale University where she has appointments in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as well as the Divinity School and the Department of Religious Studies. She is a co-founder and co-director with John Grim of the Forum on Religion and Ecology. Together they organized a series of ten conferences on World Religions and Ecology at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of Worldly Wonder: Religions Enter Their Ecological Phase (Open Court Press, 2003) and many other books. More about Mary Evelyn Tucker>>

GrimAs a professor of religion John Grim taught courses in Native American and Indigenous religions, religion and ecology, ritual, and mysticism in the world's religions. He is currently a visiting scholar at the Institution of Social and Policy Studies, Yale University and President of the American Teilhard Association. His published works include: The Shaman: Patterns of Religious Healing Among the Ojibway Indians (University of Oklahoma Press, 1983) and, with Mary Evelyn Tucker, a co-edited volume entitled Worldviews and Ecology (Orbis, 1994, 5th printing 2000). More about John Grim>>


Some highlights from this talk:

Mary Evelyn Tucker: "[Thomas Berry's] essay, The New Story, ends with this sense of an inspiring and guiding force of the universe. If the universe evolved and brought forth the galaxies and stars and planets and moved toward the earth and the emergence of life itself, then we can rely on these huge, vast cosmological forces for guidance into the future. And that's one of his great gifts to the present moment, that the human does have a special role. And that's why the ecological crisis needs to give you a sense of a story to orient us in our 'great work,' as he would say, for our planet and its survival."

John Grim: "I sense there is a broad call among people who are awakening to this issue now towards an ecological reformation. And I think it's very helpful, especially on the Protestant side of Christianity, to find in that language and in that type of historical resonance of that period what happened in the Reformation to awaken a new religious understanding. I sense that Matthew [Fox] is a very good example of someone who is exploring this life-way dimension, trying to see the original blessings of the cosmos that we live in and how that understanding and awakening to cosmology begins to inform dimensions of our life that we've separated out or considered as totally different realms."

Mary Evelyn Tucker: "I think what is interesting is that, within all of these traditions as they're awakening to ecological crisis and struggling to respond to the death of life on the planet, that a variety of approaches are emerging, even within Christianity. A couple of months ago I attended a conference at the Vatican on climate change, where there is a very clear and keen concern about climate change from the point of view of the effect of the poor around the world. But as well, the Greek Orthodox patriarch [Bartholomew] has been a huge leader on these ideas and has had a symposium titled Religion, Science, and the Environment, especially focused on water."

Mary Evelyn Tucker: "Thomas [Berry] always felt that in the unity described as Heaven, Earth, and human, the humans completed these vast cosmological forces described as the ten thousand things, or Heaven and Earth; and that the human has this special role in Confucianism, not dissimilar to Teilhard in fact, as the co-creator with these dynamic forces of the universe. And that's why the role of the human as establishing an engaged politics, an effective educational system, and harmonious societies were the guiding principles for Confucian literati, scholars, and officials. And it's why it's one of the oldest continuing civilizations on the planet."

John Grim: "I'm so struck by the emphasis in Thomas [Berry's] reflection that it wasn't simply a rational intelligence that gave us our distinguishing human characteristic but that deep affectivity, as if ways of coming to know were also embedded in the senses: it was an embodied knowing."

Full transcript of this conversation >>


About the Author

Commonweal is a health and environmental research institute where for three decades we have worked at the interface of personal and planetary healing through focused initiatives in the environment, education, and health. The New School seeks to bring together old and new friends and colleagues from all these areas to explore shared interests in life-long learning and service to life.


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