Teilhard Anniversary Year (1975)
The year 1975 was the Twentieth Anniversary of Teilhard's death, and it was one in which we took stock of the growth of the Association and also of the changes in direction that would have to be made.
It was agreed that the first wave of enthusiasm of the early 1960s had run its course, but that Teilhard's dynamic influence was still germinating within the minds of both religious and non-religious persons and that it had a role to play not only in shaping the basis of individual beliefs but also in the general intellectual and religious reappraisal of the total world view.
At a Board Meeting held on November 9, 1974 it was concluded that the Association had "a most important mission at this stage in human history and we must be willing to extend ourselves as far as we are able to do so. Our new direction, evidenced in our change of name, can be communicated more creatively in the Newsletter, programs, participation in conferences. We should engage contemporary thinkers in many disciplines, as Teilhard did, on their own terms. Although Teilhard's thinking is Christian, it is best expressed not in simple Christological terms. The Phenomenon of Man provides a unique dynamism that can integrate the past and the future with the human process. Teilhard is at one and the same time a classicist in his thinking and more venturesome than most of the future thinkers. We should be able to offer a unifying and stabilizing core to the imaginative projections of the futurologists as well as to other thinkers and ordinary people and their beliefs."
We decided that we should, for that year, address the overall subject of "Activation of Human Energy," having in mind in that year of the energy crisis that Teilhard considered the greatest source of energy to be human energy.
As to specific projects for the Anniversary Year: Fr. McGuire spoke with the editor of the Jesuit magazine America, and the full issue of April 12, 1975 was one of commemoration of Teilhard. Theological Studies commissioned a leading article by Donald Gray on "The Phenomenon of Teilhard," and this appeared in the March issue. The March-April issue of The Critic had an article by John Deedy on "The Last Days of Teilhard de Chardin" covering the years spent in New York from 19511955.
Our Annual Meeting was held on April 19, 1975 at the Parish House of historic old Trinity Church down on Wall Street (the Church of the Holy Trinity could no longer accommodate us due to changes in their own programs.) Ewert Cousins resigned as President so that he might give all his time to coordinating the big Summit Conference of the Temple of Understanding that was to be held at the United Nations in October. Thomas Berry was elected to succeed him. Our new President, a member of the Passionist Order, is a cultural historian who has established his own institute, The Riverdale Center of Religious Research in Riverdale, New York. Donald Gray and Jean Houston were elected Vice-Presidents, Theodosius Dobzhansky remained as Honorary Vice-President, and the Secretary and Treasurer were reelected.
Because Margaret Lynch was tied down to a young family - two children under four years of age - editing of the Newsletter now fell to Winifred McCulloch.Two new members of the Board of Directors were Fanny Brett de Bary, who brought knowledge and a keen judgment of how the organization functioned, and the Rev. Franklin Vilas, Jr., Priest-in-Charge at Trinity Church and member of the Board of Directors of the C. G. Jung Foundation. The Rt. Rev. G. P. Belshaw, Suffragan Bishop (Episcopal) of New Jersey, was invited to become a member of the Advisory Board.
The Teilhard Review had had to increase its subscription rates, and since we could not absorb the extra cost we voted to have two categories of membership: one with and one without The Teilhard Review. This further increased the record keeping in the office, but we could see no alternative.
For this Annual Meeting, having in mind the overall subject to be addressed, "Activation of Human Energy," we asked three speakers to talk on the general topic of "Creating the Future." Beatrice Bruteau spoke on "The Whole World - a Convergence Perspective"; Gerald Feinberg, Professor of Physics at Columbia University, chose to speak on "The Future of Consciousness"; and Roger Wescott spoke on "Paleontology and Futuristics: Explorations of Time."
That spring our evening programs continued with Thomas Berry's "Creating the Future: the New Transcendentalism" and Alice Knight's study group based on "Prayer of the Universe." In Fr. McGuire's absence, Margaret Forgione, a member of the Advisory Board, led a group that explored personal dimensions of spiritual experience.
Our Anniversary Year's activities were climaxed by a two-day Conference, sponsored jointly by the American Teilhard Association and the C. G. Jung Foundation, entitled "Human Energy and the Formation of the Future." This was held November 14 and 15 at International House in New York City and was attended by over 500 people.
Both Jung and Teilhard had recognized that mankind is a phenomenon to be investigated in its totality. Both men saw the moving force behind evolution as psychic energy. Both were deeply religious, seeking to lead twentieth century persons to their spiritual roots and to help them towards a highly individuated wholeness that could carry the thrust of evolution toward the future.
The Symposium speakers included: John Perry, M.D. of San Francisco and Edward Whitmont, M.D. of New York City, Jungian analysts, and Jean Houston and Thomas Berry representing the Teilhardian view.
In opening the Conference, Thomas Berry suggested the symbol of the Cosmic Person as a motivating force in all of history, citing its appearance as the Mahapurusha in India, the Sage in China, Anthropos in the Classic West, the Cosmic Christ of St. Paul. He suggested that this image, breaking forth in our century in Teilhard's experience of the Cosmic Christ, as well as in Jung's vital expression of the archetype of the Self, was still a vital reality, energizing human beings to build the earth anew.
Dr. Perry described his own personal experience of cosmic consciousness as a young man which led him to the study of psychology and religion. In his theme, "Eros and History," he called for a deepening of awareness of the creative aspects of human energy as it manifests itself in collective religious symbols.
Dr. Whitmont, in his "Masculine and Feminine in Cultural Evolution," described the emergence of the masculine archetype out of the earlier matriarchial modes of agricultural life, leading to intellect, ego, the power principle, the urgan and technological modes of being. With the current reconstellation of the feminine archetype, new forms of emotional and ethical experience must arise.
The final speaker, Jean Houston, dealt with "Ecology of Inner Space" - a different style of being human and of building the earth, a new image of human beings and the earth which finds resonance in the works of both Jung and Teilhard.
The Symposium had been planned by Ewert Cousins and Franklin Vilas, Jr. It was a very successful coming together of minds and it marked an important new direction for both organizations. Also, it added $2,000.00 to our exchequer.
These, then, were the ways in which we commemorated the memory of Teilhard on the Twentieth Anniversary year of his death.