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Thomas Berry: Selected Writings on the Earth Community.

Thomas Berry: Selected Writings on the Earth Community. Selected and edited by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim. Modern Spiritual Masters Series. Maryknoll: New York: Orbis, 2014. Pp. xii + 200. $22.

With the publication of Pope Francis's encyclical on climate change, Laudato si', considerable public attention will be directed to the sphere of religious environmental ethics. What an opportune time to have this collection appear, as it provides a valuable port of entry to one of the most distinctive figures in contemporary Christian environmentalism. Thomas Berry was renowned for his staunch resistance to the traditional stewardship paradigm, the cosmology of which generated a strong anthropocentrism and an accompanying ethic that Berry was convinced was bringing ruin to planet Earth and ushering in an age of death and destruction. Berry spent the greater part of three decades constructing a new cosmology, or a new creation story, as he liked to call it, which placed the good of the universe as the highest goal sought and insisted on a robust biocentric egalitarianism that considered all beings as subjects, not objects, in ethical deliberation. Suffice it to say that Berry's project was ambitious and broad-ranging, and that it often conflicted directly with the theological tenets of the traditional stewardship paradigm that has dominated Christian environmental ethics since the 1960s.

This volume nicely captures the essential elements of Berry's thought, ranging from his cosmology, to the contribution of world religions, to Christian environmental thought, to specific challenges issued to Christianity by environmental destruction, to more personal reflections on Berry's life and his experiences. There is something valuable here for anyone interested in studying Berry's thought, as it covers all the major relevant themes in Berry's environmental writings and provides a springboard for those wishing to sink their teeth into his primary texts. Berry's theological agenda will become more important as worldwide environmental degradation becomes more pronounced this century, and this volume is an excellent place to begin to understand the salient elements of his thought.

DOI: 10.1177/0040563915619978

Mark Graham

Villanova University, PA

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Author:Graham, Mark
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2016
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