One of the projects I have started in the last few months is the charting of Teilhard's life on Google Earth - with the new title 'Teilhard on Earth'. The idea is that all the places where he lived or spent time could be charted on Google Earth. Over the past 50 years a great deal has been achieved on his thought and the implications of his thought but we still know relatively little about his daily life, the places where he ate and slept. Perhaps this can lead to a deeper understanding of Teilhard. Google earth is quite good at giving you an overview of what a place is like, you can see photos added by other users. For example, Teilhard was born in Charcenat in the Auvergne region. You can go to Google Earth and see the woods around his house, see the surrounding towns. Google Earth is collaborative, everyone contributes and there is something Teilhardian about the idea.
One thing I hadn't really thought about was how our experiences are shaped. In 'The Human Search' Melvyn Thompson explains how Teilhard felt his life experiences were shaped by other people / external forces and therefore you can't really look at a location and say 'what does this say about Teilhard?' because Teilhard never choose to be in that location and might even have been trying to get away from there. Especially during World War I and as a Jesuit I have a found a series of locations and postings, conferences, retreats and it has definitely made me re-think the project:
"Yet much of what we experience is not of our own creating or choosing - things happen to us, events are shaped by events beyong our control, and slowly but inevitably we suffer from the physical limitations of our own bodies. These are what Teilhard calls our 'passivities', and among them we find a negative version of the same tension that affected out activities.Should we struggle against all that moulds and controls us, or should we accept it as being inevitably the will of some all-powerful God?"
So we can see that Teilhard was fascinated by the idea of how we should live, what should be the connection between 'what we should do' and 'what controls us'. Melvyn Thompson concludes that Teilhard never came up with a solution but he cherished the tension that the dilemma creates and lived by it.
There is no simple answer, the places where he lived will not reveal the secrets of Teilhard's thoughts but that won't stop me from continuing and carrying on the search regardless.