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The Dream of the Earth Paperback – March 17, 1990

4.2 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This first volume in a new series, the Sierra Club Nature and Natural Philosophy Library, explores human-earth relations and seeks a new, non-anthropocentric approach to the natural world. According to cultural historian Berry, our immediate danger is not nuclear war but industrial plundering; our entire society, he argues, is trapped in a closed cycle of production and consumption. Berry points out that our perception of the earth is the product of cultural conditioning, and that most of us fail to think of ourselves as a species but rather as national, ethnic, religious or economic groups. Describing education as "a process of cultural coding somewhat parallel to genetic coding," he proposes a curriculum based on awareness of the earth. He discusses "patriarchy" as a new interpretation of Western historical development, naming four patriachies that have controlled Western history, becoming progressively destructive: the classical empires, the ecclesiastical establishment, the nation-state and the modern corporation. We must reject partial solutions and embrace profound changes toward a "biocracy" that will heal the earth, urges the author who defines problems and causes with eloquence.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"This volume quite possibly is one of the ten most important books of the twentieth century." -- Dr. Donald B. Conroy, President, North American Conference on Religion and Ecology
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books; Reprint edition (March 17, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871566222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871566225
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #329,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thomas Berry has put together in this one book what a thousand other writers have attempted and that is: a complete format for human perception of reality that should and can pervade through all our earthly activities, esp. religion, politics and economy. Let Earth and it's biolgical processes teach and guide us to a rational, sustainable, regenerative, healthy existence.

There are many potent passages all through this work and I picked out one that I felt was inclusive of the gist of the book.

..."This universe itself, but especially the planet Earth, needs to be experienced as the primary healer, primary commercial establishment, and primary lawgiver for all that exists within this life community. The basic spirituality communicated by the natural world can also be considered as normative for the future ecological age."- Page 120

This is an excellent treatise on reverence for the creative life forces that sustain us and treat us daily to a plethora of interactive life processes and our need to acknowledge this gift by treating it with the awe and respect it deserves.
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"Dream of the Earth" should be considered a definitive work of 20th century, but, sadly, it has been overlooked by most of the populace. So powerfully written and earnest in some places that I was actually moved to tears, this book serves as a final plea and loose guide on how to save the planet - and with it, ourselves. In a broader sense, the book serves as a history of the human condition, how we came to be in the fix we are in today, and what massive, cultural changes need to take place in order to retain the last scraps of our mythic, extraordinary being.
Most see the coming ecological cataclysm (the next 50 years) as impossible to avoid or as nonsense. It is neither of those things. If this book doesn't drive you to change your lifestyle, nothing will.
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In one of his Dialogues, Plato says that the most serious difficulty one faces when attempting to philosophize is in "finding a suitable story for what one wants to say." But it's a difficulty worth facing at this time in history because a suitable story may serve to energize and advance current efforts to develop a globally responsible spirituality.

Everywhere we hear from perceptive folk that our conventional story has grown dangerously obsolete, and only by reimagining the world and our place in it can we advance beyond the dysfunctional limits of the old story.

The "dream of the earth" so beautifully described in this work by "geologian" Thomas Berry just may be the "big enough story" needed now to creatively navigate the global transition from a way of destruction to a way of sustainable wisdom rooted in a respect for the earth as respect for our very own bodies
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Our planet, Gaia, is sorely in need of healing. Her earth, waters, and air are polluted. Natural resources are being depleted. Thousands of plant and animal species are becoming extinct.

In this classic book, Thomas Berry summarizes and discusses the dire needs of our planet for healing. While not going so far as to advocate spiritual healing as a solution, Berry strongly advocates for awareness of the innate intelligence of Gaia.

Berry masterfully explores the mind-sets that have contributed to the dangerous depletion of our planetary resources. He suggests that we have yet to find the guiding myths and images to inspire us to relinquish our focus on personal and national material gains in order to properly focus our energies on relating to Gaia in a harmonious way.

The annotated bibliography invites focused further reading.
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This work is one of the most important books that you can read today. "We are living in interesting times." The Chinese consider the above quote to be one of the worst curses that can be placed upon someone.
If we do not create a new mythology about who we are and how we live, then the earth will do away with us.
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The change in consciousness that is needed for the human race to achieve the nobility and wisdom we are capable of requires that we recognize Earth's nonhuman beings and us as one interconnected community. This book outlines that this consciousness is required in all professions but none more than in our schools and religions. Presently most western peoples are radically cut off from this consciousness and the legs of our culture are becoming sand.
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Thomas Berry's "The Dream of the Earth" is a hard-hitting collection of essays designed to snap us out of our human-centred arrogance with regards to the Earth and the entire universe.

As a series of essays, it is of necessity disjointed and hence only a 4 star review but still recommended.

Get "The Universe Story" co-authored with Brian Swimme for the 5-star stuff!
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Thomas Berry (1914-2009) was a Catholic priest of the Passionist order, cultural historian and ecotheologian; he wrote other books such as The Sacred Universe: Earth, Spirituality, and Religion in the Twenty-first Century, The Great Work: Our Way into the Future, The Christian Future and the Fate of Earth (Ecology and Justice), etc.

He wrote in the Introduction to this 1988 book, “a new historical vision is emerging to guide us on our way to a more creative future… our world is the world of time and history and emergent evolutionary processes that extend from the first fiery energies of the universe through some billions of years to the shaping of the earth, to the emerging of life, and to the appearance of human consciousness. The position assumed in these essays is that such a new age and such a historical vision do exist, that a period of mutually enhancing human-earth relationships is being established.
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