Thomas Berry (1914-2009) was a cultural historian, philosopher, human ecologist, and a self-described geologian. He was among the first to observe that the effects of human activity have become so great that Earth is undergoing a change in geo-biological eras. He identified the “Great Work” of our time as the task of moving on from a terminal Cenozoic era to an emerging Ecozoic era . . . a task in which everyone is involved and no one is exempt, and one that is more difficult and complex than any ever before undertaken.
He gave an assessment that Earth’s life systems are in grave peril and that ecological integrity provides the overarching context for meaningful action in the future. He provided a historical analysis of how the present crisis arose. He offered a cultural critique of the globalized Western civilization. And he set forth a vision of a viable future for humans and nature, guidelines for cultural and institutional reform, a new mythic story for people to understand their places in the cosmos and to guide their activities in meaningful ways, and an understanding of the spirituality of Earth.
He was a prophet, a visionary, a teacher, and an Earth saint.
Thomas Berry’s primary contributions were made in the 20th century. His original contribution in the 21st century concerned Earth jurisprudence. He affected the lives of thousands of people while he lived, many of whom changed the direction of their lives because of his teaching.
His work was singular and of enduring value. His original written works, as primary sources, need to be studied, widely taught, further-developed, and applied.