Seeing Teilhard in Modern Culture

Dear Friends,

This Saturday, April 10, is the 66th anniversary of the death of Teilhard de Chardin in New York City.  It was Easter Sunday that year.  And then on May 1 we celebrate Teilhard’s 140th birthday!  

We at the Teilhard Project have been musing about the extraordinary extent to which Teilhard and his vision have filtered down in the years since his death, into local cultures the world around.

So, on the occasion of this auspicious celebration of Teilhard’s 140th birthday, The Teilhard Project is collaborating with the Worldwide Teilhard Association based in Paris to begin collecting evidence of the full spectrum of cultural expressions that reveal Teilhard’s influence since his death in 1955.  To that end, we are asking for your help in this “crowd-sourcing” effort that is an international undertaking.  

We can calculate the cultural influence of Teilhard in a number of ways.  Numbers are one way.  For example, if you do a Google search of his name you will discover about 1,680,000 results.  If you search “Books about Teilhard” you get about 763,000 results.Query his name at the digital world library catalog and you find 3,449 works in 9,004 publications in 15 languages and 139,295 library holdings.  And doing a Google search for Teilhard quotes turns up 262,000 results.

But numbers don’t really give the flavor of Teilhard’s influence in art, literature, music, and every wrinkle of our popular culture.  Here in the U.S., for example, two popular novels that were made into movies had a character modeled after Teilhard: Shoes of the Fisherman, by Morris West, and The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty. 

Not long ago Episcopal Bishop Michael B. Curry referenced Teilhard’s famous quote about rediscovering fire in his homily at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.  Long before that, author Flannery O’Connor named a short story after a Teilhard quote, “Everything that rises must converge.”  

In the field of music everything from folk music to symphonies have been inspired by Teilhard.  World famous sculptor Frederick Hart created extensive works in “homage to Teilhard de Chardin.” Numerous paintings and digital works of art claim Teilhard as their inspiration.

Please join us in this effort. We ask that you send any examples you are aware of to frankfrost@teilhardproject.com. The deadline is April 20, 2021.

We are aware that it’s a short deadline, but the Worldwide Teilhard Association wants to be able to release an interim report on the May 1 birthday anniversary, although we are sure this international legacy project will have a much longer life. For the time being we ask you to limit your answers to the fields of literature (essay, fiction, poetry, theater), music, painting and drawing, sculpture and numismatics.  For example, Romain Gary and Arthur C. Clarke could be mentioned in literature, André Jolivet in music, Salvador Dali in painting.

For each example that you offer, please send us its name/title and the author or artist’s name, together with a digital link that would allow us to “see”, read or “hear” it. Please don’t try to send a book!

We would also like you to explain your choice by telling us in a few lines why you believe it is inspired by Teilhard.

Thank you in advance for becoming a part of this remarkable attempt to “see Teilhard” in modern culture.

Frank and Mary Frost

Production on the documentary Rediscovering Fire: The Evolution of Teilhard de Chardin has continued during this pandemic. Our deepest thanks to all of you who have helped us reach this point. We are now in the midst of post-production, but we still have a ways to go to finish, and your financial help, no matter the amount, will make a difference. Visit our website,www.teilhardproject.com/donations.  Grateful thanks to all who have already given so generously.

Frank and Mary Frost

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