Harper Perennial, 2012, 352pp

ISBN: 9780061916137

Reviewed by Ian Mowll


“Houston, we have a problem…”.

Here is quote from the book:

There is simply nothing in our cultural history that adequately prepares us for the evolutionary challenges we now face, challenges that will demand more robust and sophisticated answers to the question of how human beings are actually related to the natural world out of which we have emerged”.

And this is deeply important. Important because we have, as a human race, to combat climate change, overpopulation, the destruction of species and more. These issues have to be addressed collectively by humans; no one country or group can go it alone.

How can we do this? This book provides signposts, sometimes answers, sometimes questions, but at least broad pointers to the ways in which we can integrate an overarching story to help us to address the pressing issues of today.

Carter Phipps does what the best writers do. He describes the territory, the history, the ideas, the prominent people and the impact of the ideas. And then he offers his own opinion. I mostly agree with him, occasionally I differ – or sometimes I think there is more to add. But for the most part, he hits the nail on the head with crisp and clear writing. It’s so refreshing to see that this form of spirituality is being embraced by so many people from different backgrounds, experiences and spiritual traditions – the truth is out there……

Names quoted in the book which might be familiar are Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Berry, Ken Wilber, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Lynn Margulis, Carl Sagan, Elisabet Sahtouris, Rupert Sheldrake, Brian Swimme, Alfred North Whitehead and many, many more. This shows how broad the book is, how the author has engaged with so many thinkers, philosophers and spiritual visionaries. And this is what I find so satisfying: seeing the broader picture and process that is ongoing in progressive spirituality.

One of the best metaphors I took from the book was how a new stream starts by carving out a shallow furrow. This is in contrast to a river that has been around for centuries which may have carved out a whole valley. In the same way, this new form of evolutionary spirituality is finding its way in contrast to the established religions which have centuries worth of depth. But as evolution shows us, nothing stays static. Sometimes old ways have had their time and new circumstances demand new pathways and new adventures. And I believe that the time is now for this new stream of evolutionary spirituality to start carving out its place in the world.

For anyone interested in, or committed to, evolutionary spirituality, I strongly recommend this book.