The National Catholic Review
Jim Conlon

Do you find yourself fascinated by the findings and insights of science? Are you puzzled and intrigued by quantum theory and evolution and their implications for how you see the world? Do you have an intuition that these insights of science hold out the promise of a deeper, more grounded and holistic spiritual journey? Are you one who appreciates the ultimate and awesome mystery that resides at the heart of the universe?

If you answer these questions in the affirmative, you are one of a growing number who are living, in the words of Thomas Berry, “in between stories.” In some way, you are aware of a mystery and of the fascination of a new story cascading into human consciousness. It is a story of the origins of things that began some 14 billion years ago; a story of the formation of planets, including planet Earth some 4.5 billion years ago; and a story of life emerging from the sea, flowing onto the land and giving birth to humanity and the consciousness that today we, as humans, have come to understand.

If you are aware of these amazing events and are a Catholic Christian, then Ilia Delio’s The Emergent Christ may be just the companion you have been waiting for as you search for a fresh and dynamic integration between your inherited Catholic tradition and the amazing insights of science. It can heal the growing chasm between your inherited Catholicism and the insights of science. Each chapter provides a new and expanded view to heal the fragmentation within, as you discover your place in this amazing process.

Diarmuid O’Murchu, a social psychologist and author, told me recently that his work is dedicated to integrating the insights of science and the adult faith experience. Science and the Catholic tradition have not always shared the same landscape. From the days of Galileo and Copernicus, and more recently the work of Jesuit paleontologist and theologian Teilhard de Chardin, the Catholic Church has often resisted the revelations of empirical observation. Today, however, the divisions are being healed; the result is a more vital faith experience flowing from the integration of science and theology. As we gain fresh insights from evolutionary science, we discover that the God of the cosmos is present in every molecule of existence; the whole world is sacred and soaked in the divine presence.

Beginning with the themes that address the new creation story and the renewed notion of God, Jesus, the paschal mystery and more, Ilia Delio—a senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University—presents a fresh and authentic vision of today’s Catholicism. Readers will discover in these pages moments of peace and wholeness, as the fragmentation within and without begins to heal. The book is an invitation to come home to the universe and home to your own Catholic faith. It is an invitation to engage in a work that focuses on oneness, healing and hope, being born in every fabric of the world moment by moment.

If your experience in reading The Emergent Christ is similar to mine, you’ll be left refreshed and curious, asking that the author and her colleague at Woodstock, John Haught, and many others continue to nourish us with incarnational spirituality. That way we can celebrate the insights of science without turning our backs on our Catholic heritage, and find in our theological reflection a deeper understanding of what it means to be Catholic in an evolutionary universe. Only then can we come home to a new wholeness in which science and theology become partners in this great evolutionary journey.

Jim Conlon is the director of the Sophia Center in Culture and Spirituality, at Holy Names University, in Oakland, Calif.

Comments

ed gleason | 10/14/2011 - 1:08pm
It's good to have people like Delio. Berry, de Chardin, Haught, O'Murchu that help free us from a fundamentalist waste land that we see some evangelicals stumbling around in. e.g. the 6000 year old Earth. Poor Rick Perry is stuck with that mill stone around his neck. ..  A little more appreciation for our scholars from the Vatican would be appropriate.