Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Film 1- Thomas Berry - The Great Story

Question:What should our relationship with nature be?


  1. When I listen to Thomas Berry if feels like he finds the intersection between logic, spiritualism, and the natural world.

  2. I think about the film, and the thing that stands out in my mind is how sad I would feel if I were to look up into the night sky and never be able to see the stars again because of the haze of pollution covering our planet. "Not to see the stars is a soul loss.” We humans like to forget that we are a part of the natural world too. God may have given us dominion over the animals and the plants, but I feel that that he did so thinking that we would respect, protect, and honor his creation. Not exploit them and earths other natural resources in an irresponsible manor, only treating them as a means to our extractive economy's end. "The universe is a communion of subjects. Not a collection of objects."
    As a designer, what really tugged at my heartstrings was when Berry spoke of how the death of the Cenozoic period is coming about with the continuation of our current environmental practices. The Cenozoic period (about 65 million years) can be described as the era of creativity, birth, death, creation, and growth of the earth that we humans have so lavishly thrived in. As a Christian designer I have always felt blessed that God would share with me one of his greatest "talents"- the ability to creatively shape our own environment. The death of creativity... a very morbid phrase indeed for artists and designers alike to have to be faced with. One of my most favorite designers once said, "all inspiration come from the outside". Now what is a designer or an artist to do for a living if we have no inspiration to drive our work?

  3. Thomas Barry viewed nature as a phenomenon that has its own story and deemed it a responsibility to cite this story to people in order to draw their care and attention to it. He felt the true spirit of nature and wanted everyone to feel the same by helping them disregard their ordinary perspective toward nature for a moment. He believed that modern human is so preoccupied with day-to-day life that has lost the instinctive connection with nature and that’s why he does not care about nature anymore. His famous quote “universe is not selection of objects, it is communal of objects" clearly reveals his philosophy toward the universe: universe is not a random conglomeration of self-contained objects.
    Education was his main solution to overcome such unawareness toward nature. Effective education will make our children more thoughtful about their environment and surroundings and hopefully, they won’t follow their predecessors’ path in treating the nature. In line with what Tomas Barry mentioned on this video, I believe that “dreams drive action”. In my opinion, people who are taught to be responsible toward nature and their surroundings will reflect this awareness in their behavior. In effect, respecting the nature will become part of their unconscious. This further accentuates the role of academic programs in achieving this objective by means of training and constructing nature-considerate designers and professionals.

  4. Thomas Berry’s film, The Great Story vividly paints a portrait of human spirituality that yearns to reconnect with the natural world. His research as a theologian culminated from various eastern religions, in addition to Catholic studies, history and science, have prepared him for his great work in teaching, and writings on the balance of nature and the human soul. The Great Story speaks to the heart in recognizing the sacred value of the earth as our center, of which we are a communion of subjects, and not a collection of objects.

    In telling the great story of how the world came into being, Berry realigns our understanding of the force of nature, the vulnerability of its balance, and our relationship to it. The film connects us to a broader spectrum of spirituality with the universe and answers the question of identity.

    To say this film left a profound impact on us is an understatement. The question we must ask ourselves is how we proceed from here? How do we honor his great work with the reverence it deserves as we find our place in the world? How can we carry on with his great work, and apply its principles to our everyday life? This is not a film that’s easily forgotten, but one you want to savvy, carry with you, and pass it on with grace.

    1. Correction in last line:

      "This is not a film that's easily forgotten, but one you want to savor, carry with you, and pass it on with grace."

      Sorry for the typo error

  5. In this film, Thomas Barry explains how to see the universe as a story. He is talking about a constant transformation in all the components of which it is created, going through an endless change process. Everything contains a story that is told every second in life. His approach to the planet is “a communion of subjects not a collection of objects”. He also explains that we as humans need to understand and learn that concept in order to make everything work.

    Tomas Barry is an Ecologist Theologian, who describes a sacred reality as a Journey of the universe. A spiritual connection in a new language that prevents the loss of the world, explaining that the attitude is going to help us achieve that unity.

    He makes me realize about the separation that we humans have created with our environment and the spiritual connection that is attaching us to the universe. We are giving a lot of ourselves to big commercials, industries, and corporations; making us lose that sense of story or creation that links us with the planet. Sometimes we are leaving these industries dictate our way of living, thinking, and learning environments. Many activities that we plan in our daily agenda push us to be more effective and efficient in our jobs breaking that connection to nature. Every day we have fewer opportunities to have a real meal that will feed not only our bodies but our soul. I think that we have lost peace as well, the world is moving so fast that we need to keep going, forgetting to do many considerations to the planet, and polluting it without noticing that our actions will have huge consequences in a near future.

  6. Professor Anna Marshall-Baker:
    The earth is a "communion of subjects, not a collection of objects" (Thomas Berry, "geologian"). If, as Bill McDonough says, design is a signal of our intention, then we either don't believe that we exist among a communion of subjects or we don't care that we do -- because we signal that we are empowered with dominion over all our fellow subjects, human, nonhuman, living, and nonliving. We parse our community into pieces -- we take it apart, we separate ourselves from it, we destroy parts of it, and we throw other parts of it away. But if we saw all that was wasted (energy, landscape, air, water, soil, products,..+) not as objects but as subjects, then our perspective changes and the importance, value, and potential of our fellow "subjects" will perhaps give us enough pause to be thoughtful and learn, and to make better decisions. Bill McDonough references a Native American Chieftain who said that what we see as resources, Native Americans see as relatives. With different perspectives, we make different decisions because our framework shifts.