October 26, 2006
For the time being
I love this book. I got a free copy from Annie herself when she read at the Provincetown Arts Center the summer before last. She gave several boxes of them out to the audience. I started reading it right away and then put it down for more than a year. When I picked it up again, I was overwhelmed with its spiritual power. I read a little bit before I went to sleep each night until I finished it.
I felt a special connection with Annie--- though nothing but a look passed between us. In that look, I experienced recognition, appreciation, and welcoming. It turns out we share a hero, Teilhard de Chardin, a paleontologist and Jesuit priest, who spent most of his life in China. His writings combined science and spirituality. He was on the expedition that found "Peking Man." He viewed spirit as implicit in matter and saw life moving towards an ultimate spirtual unity. Who knows? It may be so. The church, which objected to his evolutionary views, did not allow him to publish his work nor to return to France.
Annie writes wonderful little vignettes about him in her book. She helps place him in his world. Before I knew him only as the author of the interesting but perhaps dusty book, The Phenomenon of Man. He was nontheless a hero to me for making a serious and comprehensive attempt to combine science and spirituality. The science in his book seemed very firm to me, at least at an intuitive level. This made me feel there might be something to his spiritual intuitions. I am so glad to have gotten more of a sense of the man himself and to learn what an impressive being he was. I guess at some level I knew it had to be so. I now want to know much more about him
I have not done Annie's book justice, nor even tried. Its import is too big to capture. The best I can do is to say that it is a beautiful meditation on life and death. She also writes alot about Judaism. Although she is not Jewish, she is extremely knowledgeable about the core of Jewish spirituality. I feel a strong kinship with her spiritual longings, which come through so strongly from behind the material .