Where the Pure Water Flows: The New
Story of the Universe and Christian Faith, by Margaret Galiardi, O.P.,
Amityville, NY: Homecoming, Inc., 2008
The book, “Where the Pure Water Flows”
appears to be a magazine or brochure at first glance. More than that, however,
it is a theological treatise and a prayer book simultaneously. It
challenges the reader to transition from a mere consumer to one who
conscientiously lives as a human being who appreciates creation.
Margaret Galiardi, OP, a sister of the Amityville
Dominicans writes powerfully, "For us, as people of faith, the information that
science is now offering us from the farthest reaches of the Universe has
something to say about a God whose divine action is embedded in 13.7 billion
years of Universe dynamics, not extraneous to it." I highly recommend this
book as a source of study for Southern Province Dominicans: friars, sisters,
laity and friends. It also serves as a jumping off point for further study
and reflection about our concerns and our mission as preachers in the Church.
Divided into two parts, the book intersperses its
text with opportunities for prayer and reflection on the material. Part
One deals with the new understanding of cosmology in relation to theology while
Part Two explores "the implications of the story for our Christian faith and its
articulation in the 21st century."
Galiardi quotes the eminent theologian, Sr.
Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ: "Early Christian and medieval theologians
interpreted the natural world as God's good creation, a revealing pathway to the
knowledge of God. It was common for them to say that God has put two books
at our disposal, the book of sacred scripture and the book of nature: if
we learn how to read the book of nature aright, we will be led to knowledge of
God." As Galiardi goes on to say, we acknowledge "that the material world
is our way of perceiving the Divine, itself the carrier of the numinous presence
of God." The implications of this way of thinking lead us to a new
appreciation for the importance of creation in our human existence. With
the data and research into climate change, for example, we are led to question
how we utilize energy and how our patterns of consumption directly impact the
environment. Simultaneously, Galiardi and others would say that our "use"
of the environment speaks of our relationship to God and understanding of who
God is for us.
Where the Pure Water Flows
saves the most challenging thought for the final pages where Galiardi explores
the work of Raimon Panikkar and how his theology informs the implications for
"bringing the insights of the larger Universe story to the Christian story."
"Panikkar's thought . . . points to a sacredness at the heart of all life that
is to be embraced even in the most mundane of life's activities . . .”
Certainly this book, as well as the others in the
"Dominican Women on Earth" series, calls us to question how we perceive the
Earth and the God who created it and us. As Galiardi concludes, "we would
do well to preach a worldview which honors what God has been about in the entire
evolutionary process, honoring the diving unfolding at every stage and phase of
the long 13.7-billion-year story.
----Jeffery Ott, O.P.
Promoter of Justice
Southern Dominican Province, U.S. A.