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Journey of the Universe Hardcover – June 28, 2011

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Journey of the Universe + Journey of the Universe: An Epic Story of Cosmic, Earth and Human Transformation + The Universe Story : From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era--A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos
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Editorial Reviews


“What’s most striking about Swimme and Tucker’s work is a simple but beautiful assumption: a cosmological orientation opens the human mind to wonder, gratitude, humility, and creativity."—Mitchell Thomashow, Orion
(Mitchell Thomashow Orion)

"Strikingly, . . . the co-authors managed to fit 14 billion years of grandeur along with humanity’s most fundamental questions into small spaces. . . . Perfectly tailored for classroom use . . . offering a common ground for discussion among people of myriad points of view."—Julianne Lutz Warren, Journal of Environmental Studies and Science
(Julianne Lutz Warren Journal of Environmental Studies and Science)

“In their new book, Journey of the Universe, Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker invite us into the scientific story of the Universe, imbuing it with all the passion and purpose of a great religious myth. Their “invitation into grandeur” carries us into the heart of a story that Homer would have loved to tell—the story of how life began, evolved, and turned into you and me”—Carter Phipps, EnlightenNext
(Carter Phipps EnlightenNext)

“The book is simply written and easy to read—more like Kipling's Just So Stories than Being and Time—and you may or may not be convinced by Swimme and Tucker's interpretations of modern cosmology and evolutionary history. But it's a fascinating game to play. More theology of physics, please!”—Josh Rothman, Boston Globe Brainiac blog
(Josh Rothman Boston Globe)

“This highly descriptive text is a poetic expression of the authors’ view of biological and physical sciences.”—CHOICE

Journey of the Universe (the film) has been nominated for an Emmy for the West Coast (winner will be announced 9 June)
(Northern California Emmy Nomination 2012-06-08)

“The sense of deep time and space that Journey of the Universe establishes is the greatly needed context for students, who do not always appreciate the present predicament and the role of humanity in the world. It puts us in perspective—and conveys wonder that Earth and life are here in the first place and how amazing it is to be in what is apparently one of the most creative nooks in the universe. Also wonderful is the scientific narrative spine and to ask over and over--ok, what does it mean for us?”—Julianne Lutz Warren, author of Aldo Leopold’s Odyssey
(Julianne Lutz Warren 2012-10-11)

About the Author

Brian Thomas Swimme is a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Mary Evelyn Tucker is senior lecturer and research scholar at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale Divinity School. She is co-founder and co-director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (June 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300171900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300171907
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian Swimme is a professor of cosmology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, in San Francisco. His department, "Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness" (PCC), is the only graduate program in the western world that places equal emphasis on contemporary science, indigenous spirituality, classical philosophy, and feminist thought for its masters and doctoral programs. He and his colleagues at CIIS have created this program in order to re-imagine the human species as a mutually enhancing member of the Earth community.

The heart of Brian Swimme's work is his focus on knowledge that is transformative--of ourselves and of our civilization. His graduate program attracts intellectually engaged women and men who are in varying degrees dismayed by what they see happening in industrial societies and who are striving to find meaningful ways to develop their gifts to serve the future of the world. Keeping in mind Alfred North Whitehead's view that the function of the university is to enable the future to appear, first in conceptual thought, the PCC faculty and graduate students hold in mind three fundamental goals:

1. To open our consciousness, through learning and imagination, to those creative and evolutionary energies suffusing the Earth, the universe, and the deep psyche that will enable us to participate fully in the regeneration of human communities and their enveloping life systems.

2. To analyze the current devastation of planetary life and to strive to liberate ourselves and our communities from the underlying causes of alienation, consumerism, militarism, androcentrism, and unsustainable modes of life.

3. To draw from the deep wells of philosophical and religious wisdom together with other scholarly and scientific insights in order to bring forth a profound vision of a vibrant planetary era.

Brian Swimme's work joins with those scientists, scholars, and visionaries who recognize that the Earth community is facing an unprecedented evolutionary challenge, the most severe degradation of life in the last 65 million years. This multifaceted crisis requires a fundamental reorientation of our civilization, one in which a compassionate humanity becomes a mutually enhancing presence within Earth's complex systems of life. Cultural historian Thomas Berry, who is co-author of "The Universe Story", has called this task "the Great Work."

Brian Swimme's work, both as a writer and a professor in the PCC program, is committed to shaping the leadership necessary for profound, progressive transformation of social institutions and individual consciousness. Drawing upon some of the most powerful ideas of Western intellectual and spiritual traditions, together with insights from Asian spiritual philosophies and indigenous world views, Swimme and the faculty of PCC have constructed a multidisciplinary course of study to help accelerate each student's journey into his or her particular leadership role within this work.

Brian Swimme was born in Seattle, Washington, earned his Bachelor's degree in California, his doctoral degree in mathematics at the University of Oregon, and now teaches in San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Caroline Webb.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Don Smith on June 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Having just completed this wonderful short (117 pages) book, I am awestruck at the ability of the authors to tell "The Journey of the Universe" in so few pages and yet evoke a deep new awareness of what it means to be human within the Earth Community and Universe today.

I have read Swimme's previous books and much of Thomas Berry's writings and perhaps the best way to describe this book is as a distillation and re-focusing of the best of this previous work. Although not as involved as "The Universe Story" by Berry/Swimme, it brilliantly captures its essence and expounds insights without bogging down in detail. I was amazed at the writing style which is so concise and informative and packs deep and thought-provoking insights into every paragraph. Yet it is a joy to read and what I would call an "easy read" probably requiring not much more than 2-3 hours! The collaboration of Mary Evelyn Tucker (editor of Thomas Berry's later books of essays) and Brian Swimme has created a book which could (and should!) well become one of the most widely read in the English-speaking world.

Although the authors outline the cosmological history of our Universe it never bogs down in scientific jargon and always keeps the reader firmly focused on what this all means for us today. They do, however, paint an awe-inspiring picture of the Universe out of which we have emerged and the cosmological forces which have shaped this emergence.

The essential focus of the book is not at all scientific in nature - most of it is concerned with subtly raising our awareness of the human species' place or role within Earth Community now that we understand all that modern cosmology has revealed. Note that this is subtle.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Chris Uhl on June 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a stunning book. It is both prose and poetry. Reading it slowly, savoring it, I have the sense that every sentence has been crafted from the heart. There is not a word that is unnecessary. It is a labor of love, a truly sacred text. I offer my profound thanks to the authors.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Leslie on July 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't read this book in one sitting because each paragraph is so thought provoking. It's magically, mystical and based in solid science. My eyes, mind and heart are opened. This book should be required reading.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By David from Ipswich on July 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was about 15 years ago that I discovered "The Universe Story" by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry. It was of those books that forever changed me, my perspective. Like the current book, "Journey of the Universe", it presented the story of the universe from inception to now in 300 pages. "Journey of the Universe" remarkably shrinks the presentation to 117 pages and gives the very essence of how we came into being and where we are in the great chain of being. It is a remarkable acomplishment both for its scope and its artistry. I would like to focus only on one point, but in my opinion, this point is at the heart of human transformation. It answers the question "what changes everything". And the "answer" is that you (and I and everything else) is in fact the universe manifesing in a particular form. The rose in the particular form of a flower, the golden retriever in the particur form of a dog and you (and I) in the particular form of a human. To fully penetrate this mystery does in fact change everything.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan W. Gorham on August 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a delightful, yet provocative book. Once you pick it up you, will not be able to put it down. It is jam packed with interesting facts about cosmic evolution, cell biology and patterns in the universe that seem to apply on both the micro and macro levels. The authors assert that humans have evolved with the unique gift of symbolic consciousness, a window on the universe that enables us to reflect upon the majesty of the world on both its scientifically knowable and spiritual dimensions. They pose the question: can we as a species collectively generate a new sense of awe and wonder in time to transform our technology driven, "growth at any cost" system when ecosystems are collapsing and species are going extinct all around us?

With the capacity of humans to experience "the depth of things" and to exhibit compassion and empathy for each other, and, hopefully, all species, do we have the creativity, tools and commitment to forge a planetary system that is sustainable? It is precisely this question that will challenge us over the next couple of decades as we reach seven billion people on the planet. Can we create a world that can flourish for all its inhabitants for generations to come?

The authors document that humans are an exploratory species, fascinated by the journey. Our stories of that journey sustain us, yet not all explorations result in positive outcomes. And few of us understand the scope of this journey over cosmic time and humankind's infinitesimal part in that play. The authors explain that there is a dynamic tension that drives the universe - galactic expansion-contraction, life-death explosions, evolutionary experimentation-adaption. Cataclysmic events have wiped out massive potions of life on earth before.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sister Helen Prejean on August 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
from Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man WalkingDead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account Of The Death Penalty In The United States
All I can say is that you had better fasten your cosmic seatbelt when you enter into the sweep of this fantastic book. How does anyone set about taking readers through the journey of the ENTIRE, COTTONPICKIN'13.7billion UNIVERSE in one short, readable book? Unless that person is Brian Swimme. WHO IS THIS GUY? An astrophysicist? A philosopher? A scientist? A cosmologist? Yes, all that and one of the best all-round, captivating storytellers you'll ever meet. I suggest you read the book first, then treat yourself to the DVD and invite your friends over and take them with you on this amazing journey of the way we and everything around us first flared from a tiny spark of light, which generated gases that gathered and congealed and birthed stars and galaxies and supernovas that exploded and gave us Earth and moon and living creatures and beets and eggs and geysers in Yellowstone and - everything. And, when all was set - us human beings with consciousness and blazing imaginations. Not to mention our unique, awesome responsibility to care for our planet. There's a moral urgency behind this book. The truth is that we humans need to wake up - and soon- because we're out of control in our addiction to petroleum and pesticides and wastefulness that is fast destroying our planet. And those of us who belong to communities of faith need to understand the special role our religious convictions play in stewardship and care for Earth. Far from threatening faith, the story of our evolving and unfurling universe makes us drop to our knees in wonder.
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