July 2012

Sisters inspired by US scientist

According to US scientist, academic and author, Dr Larry Edwards, Australians are much more aware than Americans of the environmental difficulties we now face and will face in the future.

While that’s encouraging for Australians, it definitely doesn’t get us off the hook. It’s Larry’s quest to educate people from all walks of life about how and why “humans are destroying Earth” and our vital role in righting that situation.

His first time in Australia, the chemical-physicist and cosmologist recently finished presenting a series of workshops and lectures to audiences in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Toowoomba and Perth.

“The audiences I experienced were great, very interested, very responsive, Larry told The Good Oil.

“They were mostly Catholics. Many were in religious orders. So most were older than average in Australia.”

Among the participants were a few Good Samaritan Sisters.

Sydney-based Sister Patty Fawkner has been interested in the “new cosmology” for the past few years.

“Life on the macro and micro levels is complex, mysterious and utterly beautiful and I just want to learn more,” she said.

“I was interested in this particular workshop because Larry Edwards was coming from a scientific background and not from any specific spiritual or religious framework.”

Having participated in one of Larry’s workshops in Ireland a few years ago, Sister Marcia Magill went along to the Sydney workshop because she “knew how good Larry was”.

Marcia thought the title of the workshop – “The Gifts of the Universe: Living into Gratefulness” – was an “interesting and stimulating” way to examine the “unfolding of the universe story”.

“Larry traced the story of this unfolding of the universe from the Big Bang – primeval fireball 14 billion years ago – as a vast sequence of gifts, freely given to all beings, out of which the great variety of Earth’s forms and capacities, including our own have evolved,” she explained.

“This 14 billion-year story is our own new creation story; our new understanding of who we are, where we are, how we came to be, and what our role has been and must be with the greater community of Earth life.”

Both Marcia and Patty said they came away from the workshop with a greater awareness of the interconnectedness of all life in the universe.

“[Throughout the workshop], Larry continued to use two key words to describe the whole evolutionary process: intimacy and relationships,” said Patty.

“We can’t continue with a worldview that sees the human as separate from all other life forms, or as the centre and pinnacle of evolution. We can’t, says Edwards, continue to think and act as though the universe was made specifically for us.

“I came away realising how stupid and illogical racism of any kind is. We are all related; we are all connected; we’re all family,” she said.

According to Marcia, “greater knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the amazing development of the universe and the interconnectedness of everything will influence the way individuals care for our Earth and the way we live.”

After earning his PhD in chemical-physics from Harvard University, Larry Edwards spent many years teaching at several universities. It was during his time at the National Science Foundation that he discovered the work, among others, of US Passionist priest, Thomas Berry and the French Jesuit priest, Teilhard de Chardin.

Since then Larry has focused on teaching the universe story and its implications for a sustainable and fulfilling personal and cultural life at Wisdom University, the California Institute of Integral Studies, Saint Thomas University, Genesis Farm, as well as through an at-home online program.

The Good Oil

‘The Good Oil’, the free, monthly e-journal of the Good Samaritan Sisters, publishes news, feature and opinion articles and reflective content which aims to nourish the spirit, stimulate thinking and encourage reflection and dialogue about contemporary issues from a Good Samaritan perspective.

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