The New Story

Thomas Berry

It is all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between two stories. The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story. Our traditional story of the universe sustained us for a long period of time. It shaped our emotional attitudes, provided us with life purposes and energized actions. It consecrated suffering and integrated knowledge.

We awoke in the morning and knew where we were. We could answer the questions of our children. We could identify crime, punish transgressors. Everything was taken care of because the story was there. It did not necessarily make people good, nor did it takeaway the pains and stupidities of life or make unfailing warmth in human association. It did provide a context in which life could function in a meaningful manner. (DE, chapter 10, page 123-124)

A radical reassessment of the human situation is needed, especially concerning those basic values that give to life some satisfactory meaning. We need something that will supply in our times what was supplied formerly by our traditional religious story. If we were to achieve this purpose, we must begin where everything begins in human affairs – with the basic story , our narrative of how things came to be, how they came to be as they are, and how the future can be given a satisfactory direction. We need a story that will educate us, a story that will heal, guide and discipline us …(DE, chapter 10, page 124)

No sustaining values have emerged. Our social problems are not resolved. The earth continues to disintegrate under the plundering assault of humans….The human venture remains stuck in its impasse. Children who begin their earth studies or life studies do not experience any numinous aspect of these subjects. The excitement of existence is diminished. If this fascination this entrancement with life is not evoked, the children will not have the psychic energies needed to sustain the sorrows inherent in the human condition. They might never discover their true place in the vast world of time and space. Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the mostimportant events in their lives. Children need a story that will bring personal meaning together the grandeur and meaning of the universe. (DE, chapter 10, page 130-131)

The world of today is controlled by its cosmology, not by its philosophy of culture.The present modern cosmology is associated with the observational sciences. We have come to understand our Universe in terms of evolutionary unfolding over vast periods of time, through vast extent of space. (Christian Future/CF, chapter 4, 26)

To know the Great Story in all depth and all the change this brings is the greatest change in human consciousness since the Neolithic period. This change is difficult for all human consciousness, not only for religious people. The New Story shows us where we are in our time: the great Ecological Crisis. We begin to understand in what time we live and where the destruction comes from. We cannot just restore a former, religious, moral, humanist tradition. We are re-ordering the human in its relationship to Earth. (CF chapter 4, 27-28)

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  • CF: The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth, Thomas Berry ISBN 978-1-57075-851-5
  • Bahasa Indonesia   Kosmologi Kristen, Thomas Berry 9-789799 447920
  • DE Dream of the Earth, Thomas Berry ISBN 0-87156-622

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