Thursday, May 15, 2008

A commercial break

My newest book -- When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist -- will be published soon by Sorin Books, part of the 143-year-old Ave Maria Press, a ministry of the Congregation of Holy Cross located at the University of Notre Dame. I am thrilled that they have taken on the book. (Click to enlarge image.)

I spent eight years as an undergraduate and later as a graduate student at Notre Dame, eight happy and formative years. It was there that I wooed and won my wife of fifty years. I spent more than forty years teaching at Stonehill College, also established and run by the Congregation of Holy Cross. Men of the Congregation have been my teachers and friends.

Publishing this book is a bold and spirited act on the part of Ave Maria, and I am deeply grateful to them for allowing me to continue my relationship with Notre Dame in this way. The book is now available for pre-order on their website, and you can show your own appreciation to Ave Maria by ordering a copy now.

With an unabashed lack of modesty, I offer here the publisher's pitch:
Chet Raymo, author of sixteen books, steps into the fray between science and religion and seeks to delineate a new perspective, forged from both the rigorous standards of the academy and the reverence for creation born of the Catholic sacramental tradition. As a scientist, Raymo holds to the skepticism that accepts only verifiable answers, and replies to life's ultimate questions with the agnostic response, "I don't know." But as a "religious naturalist," he never ceases his pursuit of "the beautiful and terrible mystery that soaks creation, diminished by any name we give it." "Faith no longer matters to me," he says, "so much as attention, celebration, wonder, and praise."

In what he describes as a "late-life credo," Raymo traces a half-century journey from traditional faith-based Catholicism to scientific agnosticism. The point of religion, he asserts, is to celebrate the unfathomable mystery of creation. Thus he believes, "My work as a teacher and writer has been to discover glimmers of the Absolute in every particular, and praise what I find."

Raymo takes the reader on a tour de force of science, philosophy, theology, and literature as he gathers together the rich array of voices of his many traveling companions. With wonderfully detailed anecdotes Raymo brings to life a diverse cadre of mentors such as Gerard Manley Hopkins, Charles Darwin, and Teilhard de Chardin. With wit and insight he brings forth an array of quotes from the likes of Blaise Pascal, Albert Einstein, Meister Eckhart and John Updike.

Whether exploring the connection of the human body to the stars or the meaning of prayer of the heart, Raymo's challenging and engaging reflections will cause believers and agnostics alike to pause and pay attention.
Also, here are some early reviews:
Chet Raymo is one of the best science writers working today, and in this remarkably thoughtful and balanced book he has confronted the realities of the physical world that science has given us as only a truly spiritual person could: with courage and integrity, awe and wonder. His personal journey from committed Catholic to scientific agnostic resonates deeply because he addresses the questions that all thoughtful people face. Regardless of which path you choose to take, it is the journey itself that really matters, not the destination, and I can think of no one more qualified than Chet Raymo to be your guide.
Michael Shermer
Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, author of How We Believe, The Science of Good and Evil, and Why Darwin Matters.

Amongst the angry and often strident tones of several atheists writing today rises Chet Raymo's affirmative voice, good humored and calm to the core. A scientist himself, Raymo reminds us that human consciousness is plenty big enough to accommodate both science and a sense of the holy. If the two were recognized equally and reconciled, we might make some progress toward preserving ourselves and repairing the world.
Nancy Mairs,
Author of A Dynamic God

In these times, to be devoted to contemplation is to carry all you love in the vessel of yourself into uncharted terrains, sustained by ineffable astonishment as you are asked to surrender, bit by bit, so much of what you carry in that vessel. Readers on the contemplative journey will find that Chet Raymo leads them to the point where contemplation must align itself with the revelations and demands of an unfolding universe; the only adequate context for choosing a "seamless garment of being."
Miriam Therese MacGillis, O.P.
Founder/Director of Genesis Farm, Blairstown, N.J.

This is a magnificent book, but not one for the faint of heart. In an age of militant atheists and strident believers, Chet Raymo dares to stand, where mystics and philosophers have always stood, in the place of mystery. Born of a lifetime of observing and reflecting on the physical universe and our place in it, this book offers a bracing, moving sacramental vision of existence. Neither a defense of faith nor a denunciation of the possibility of belief, Raymo invites the reader to consider the endless beauty and grace of the physical world -- a necessary spiritual practice for our age.
Douglas Burton-Christie, PhD
Professor, Christian Spirituality, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles
Editor, Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality

Angry, funny, piercing, brilliant, transcendent, eloquent. One of the nation's finest naturalists and writers pours out his heart on the roaring prayer of Everything That Is and the idiocy of arguing over labels and possession of that which is beyond our ken but not our celebration and singing, which is what Raymo does with stunning power and passion.
Brian Doyle
Author of The Wet Engine
Editor, Portland Magazine

Chet Raymo has enriched and graced our lives with this wonderful book, steeped in wisdom, warmth, and clarity. A classic.
Ursula Goodenough
Author of The Sacred Depths of Nature