Mary Coelho, Preface – Ch.2, Prep for 7/25

Since last I posted here, I have truly assimilated the fact that many of my friends are challenged and even daunted by Mary Conrow Coelho’s book, Awakening Universe, Emerging Personhood: The Power of Contemplation in an Evolving Universe.

So, before I dive into preparation for this Sunday’s presentation, with its scholarly focus on findings from several obscure realms, I thought it would be good to provide an over-all context of what Mary thinks she’s up to.

I went to the end of the book where Mary has a very nice summing up and inspirational “Go Forth!”
One of the simplest ways for me to really incorporate some important ideas from a book is to recopy them, or short of that, reformat them. I did that. I really liked it. I know that formatting is not everybody’s “thing,” but I’ve included my work here, as Where she’s going Handout, which you may download.

My notes for my 7/25 presentation


In her preface, Mary talks about how her personal journey to writing this book has been a profoundly healing one, and how The New Universe Story can potentially be a healing one for all of us in industrial civilization.

Chapter 1

Mary gives us an overview of the ground ahead.

We must risk fresh vision… Human beings collectively have taken a determinative role in shaping the future direction of the Earth, a role formerly played by the much slower evolutionary processes. Embracing new images and new insights is a personal and community process that takes its own time, but there is great urgency to the work of revisioning demanded by the new universe story…


It was early in the last century when astronomers figured out that the universe was expanding. Astronomers and astrophysicists are still following where this discovery leads, but there is wide consensus that not only is the universe expanding but that it had a starting point, popularly known as the Big Bang. Mary gives the generally-agreed upon story, but leans into the elements that make it “The New Universe Story” rather than just the chronology you find in astronomy textbooks. The “New Story” elements are about relationships we have with elements in the cosmos.


Expanding universe, 1929

“Instead of thinking of the universe as a background in which we exist, we realize we are an organized form, one among many, of the continually emerging totality.”

Atoms are an early example of the creation of complex forms.

Nucleosynthesis in Stars

p18 The special resonance around carbon formation

p20 “…as living beings we are participants in a powerful energetic totality.”

The Earth


We realize that there must be a continuum between life and the ‘non-living,’ when we remember that all things , whether living or not, are descendants of the nebular material that formed our sun and the planets. –p. 23

Relationship with the Sun


There has thus developed a remarkable sensitivity and interrelationship between one differentiated part of the universe and another part of the universe: a new intensity of communion. This communion is a fundamental characteristic of the universe. –p. 26

an oxygenated atmosphere p27, a crisis for life

Cells with more energy

Developments in the Oxygenated Seas

p29 for the first time, a billion years ago, one cell ate another cell


Complex Multicellular Life

p31 evidence of cerebralization, more than one instance, unrelated. Burgess Shale

there is a directionality in evolution.

The Paleozoic Era

p32 Cuvierian packages. Geologic ages are determined by noticing changes in these packages.

P34 first of 5 global extinctions ends the Paleozoic


mammals emerge, but dinosaurs dominate. Giantism

p35 mammals and bodily intimacy of parent & offspring

flowering plants take over the plant kingdom

Cenozoic Era

p36 dinosaurs had to be cleared out just before the beginning of the Cenozoic Era before mammals could become dominant.

Thomas Berry:

The human is that being in whom the universe activates, reflects upon, and celebrates itself in conscious self-awareness.

Our Body as History’s Museum

Triune Brain, Paul MacLean

Dowd & Barlow’s understanding of our stack of brains

Each person is a part of the Earth that got up and walked.
–p. 42

Brian Swimme videos on Youtube, a series of 10

About Richard O Fuller

Quaker, living in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.
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