The Institute for Theological Partnerships of the University of Winchester University in association with GreenSpirit presents:
The Universe Story: Understanding and Experiencing the Unfolding Story
A Conference at the University of Winchester
Friday 29th June – Sunday, 1st July 2018
Professor Emerita Ursula King
A Greater Love for the Earth and All Its People:
Earth Literacy, Ecology and Spirituality as seen by Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry
Our contemporary understanding of cosmogenesis calls for a new form of consciousness and spirituality. Some ecological activists remain so fixated at the political-legal level that they miss the spiritual “paradigm shift” required by the ecological revolution. People in the green movement and the deep ecology movement are more likely to comprehend that the universe story, the Earth story and the human story are so intimately connected that a new religious attitude is needed. The American eco-thinker Thomas Berry (1914-2009) speaks about a new “Earth literacy” which invites a new spirituality where the whole planet and all life are understood as a vast eco-system linked to philosophical and spiritual dimensions that foster a new sense of divine presence pervading the entire universe.
Thomas Berry was deeply influenced by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), the French Jesuit geologist, palaeontologist and passionate nature mystic who spent half his working life researching human origins through excavations in China and other parts of Asia. After finally returning to his homeland, he retraced his deep love of the Earth and its people, so closely interwoven with his love of God, in his autobiographical essay “The Heart of Matter” (1950), written in the region of his birth, the volcanic Auvergne of France.
Both thinkers were well aware that a “Great Work” is now required from us all to ensure a sustainable future for all life on Earth and contribute to the further social, cultural and spiritual evolution of humanity. Their ideas relate to large global perspectives that invite much constructive reflection and wide critical discussion.
My lecture will present both thinkers’ key ideas on ecology and spirituality in order to discuss how their prophetic visions challenge us to think, act and love differently on our planet Earth. Only then will we learn to share more in common, discover one mind and heart in fostering a greater love for the Earth and all its people, and experience a new sense of the Divine throughout the universe.
About Ursula King
Ursula King, STL (Paris), MA (Delhi) PhD (London), FRSA, is Professor Emerita of Theology and Religious Studies and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Bristol.
Educated in Germany, France, India and England, she has lectured all over the world and published numerous books and articles, especially on gender issues in religions, method and theory, modern Hinduism, interfaith dialogue, spirituality, and on the French thinker, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
She has held several visiting chairs in the USA and Norway, and been awarded honorary doctorates by the universities of Edinburgh (1996), Oslo (2000), and Dayton, Ohio (2003).
In 2000, she organised the Colston Research Symposium on Spirituality and Society in the New Millennium at the University of Bristol, and subsequently published its papers as a book (2001).
Among more recent publications are the edited volume on Gender, Religion and Diversity: Cross-Cultural Perspectives (2005) and The Search for Spirituality: Our Global Quest for Meaning and Fulfilment (2009).