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From barrios to supernovas, author finds the divine

by Diarmuid O’Murchu
Orbis Books, 231 pages, $20

Reviewed by JAMES CONLON

In his most prophetic work to date, Fr. Diarmuid O’Murchu poses some radically new questions for us to ponder. With insights from evolution, the new scientific story of cosmology and from the archetypal psychology of C.G. Jung, our search for spirituality takes on exciting new possibilities.

Building on the seminal insights of his best-selling Quantum Theology, Diarmuid O’Murchu takes us on an evolutionary journey that is both mystical and prophetic. In his many popular books, O’Murchu has explored the new information science has given us in the last century about how the world began, how we got here. He takes this information one step further, asking what it all means for our lives, for our spirituality.

In this book, he challenges us to let go of previous allegiances and become planetary citizens; to free our imaginations and in so doing celebrate the miracles of creation and the cosmic coincidences that can bring us a new sense of belonging. This book invites us to “come home to the cosmos to experience a fuller life enfolded in mystery.”

These pages reveal the wisdom sources that punctuate the author’s journey -- from his early years in County Wexford, Ireland, his study of theology and social psychology, his openness and service to the homeless in London, and his international consciousness through presentations and workshops increasingly focused on the developing world.

O’Murchu’s unique perspective is demonstrated by his prophetic insights into the contemporary phenomena of globalization and the information age and the integral connections with ancient insights from our mystical tradition.

In one timely chapter, O’Murchu shows how the human body (especially the female body) in our Christian religious tradition has been demonized. But when seen in the light of evolutionary science, the human body takes on important meaning, as an instance of God’s creativity, as a way the Spirit-force behind evolution realizes its purposes. O’Murchu writes:

DNA is fundamentally about information. At the observable level, that is what the body is all about -- a self-organizing, intelligent organism, but one that requires creative interaction with all other embodied forms for the release of its true potential. No bodily form makes sense in isolation. Interdependence is written into the very essence of embodied reality. Indeed, it is these two features -- intelligence and interdependence -- that provide the most generic clues to the meaning of our embodied existence in a corporeal universe.

In this way, the book invites us to see each moment on our planet as revelatory and a fresh source of wisdom and depth. Challenged by the findings of evolutionary science and quantum theory, we are invited into a new “global village,” a planetary community that is small, intimate and a “source of boundless mystery.”

Throughout the pages of this book, we are consistently invited to participate in a creative and hope-filled future that is guided by intuition and imagination; a future that celebrates the divine presence both in the barrios and favelas of the world as well as in the quantum vacuums, in the supernova explosions in outer space, in the cycles of life and in the deep mystery that is the source of all life.

The author concludes his pages with these words:

It is time to embrace the cosmic and planetary context within which our life story and the story of all life unfolds. We belong to a reality greater than ourselves, and it is within that enlarged context that we will rediscover the benign and generic mystery within which everything is endowed with purpose and meaning.

Evolutionary Faith is a timely book, a powerful antidote to confront the new age of anxiety that permeates our society with the promise of war.

James Conlon is director of Sophia Center at Holy Names College, Oakland, Calif.

National Catholic Reporter, February 21, 2003