From the Notable Books Section of the Theilhard Perspective Review (April 2017).
May 1, 1981 was a momentous day for Pierre Teilhard de Chardin scholars when several hundred of them gathered at Georgetown University to celebrate the centennial of Pierre’s birth. The event began with a tape recording of the voice of Teilhard: “If you want a complete idea of man and of his evolution, you cannot find it in any individual. You would have to take two, or three, or five hundred brains.”
One of the brains in attendance that day was Raimon Panikkar, who presented his essay, “The End of History: The Threefold Structure of Human Time-Consciousness,” the final chapter in his “Cpsmotheandric Intuition.”
Panikkar was joined by his collaborator and friend, Scott Thomas Eastham, who was a professor at Catholic University at the time. Scott wrote the introduction and edited Panikkar’s “Cpsmothandric Intuition,” and spent the rest of his life teaching, writing and sharing this vision of ‘cosmotheandric mystery.’
Eastham died on the Feast of St. Francis on October 4, 2013. His legacy is most lovingly captured by his devoted wife Mary in “The Life and Work of Scott Eastham: His Message to the Next Generation.”
Like Teilhard, “Scott never lost hope that human beings could learn to live differently if they could perceive the ‘pattern that connects’ all living creatures with the Earth, with other another, and with the divine source of all,” writes Mary.
In this genre-pushing tribute, we learn that Eastham, a singularly accomplished Panikkar scholar, never claimed to be a ‘theologian nor a biblical scholar,’ but instead saw himself as a ‘long standing student of the religious dimension of the human being.’ His friend and colleague Gerald Hall describes Scott as an ‘alchemist’ who is able to “transform abstract philosophical concepts into life through inspiring language of poetic power and aesthetic beauty.”
I invite Teilhard scholars to meet my inspirational friend and mentor, Scott Thomas Eastham, who believed the present moment was the transformative dimension of reality, “where anything and everything may come to pass.”
In a ‘virtual hug’ sent from New Zealand to my home in Michigan, Scott wrote on December 4, 2012: “This world, with all its imperfections, is the proper ‘dwelling’ of the Divine… as Teilhard knew with his immense awe at the grandeur of the Creation and his attunement to the noosphere and the ‘Spirit of the Earth’. Panikkar highlights it as the tug-of-war felt by today’s contemplatives between the traditional ideal of “blessed simplicity” and what we need to achieve today, a “harmonious complexity.”
Christine M. Tracy
March 27, 2017