BOOK REVIEW: In The Beginning Was The Spirit


In his most recent book, In The Beginning Was The Spirit, author Diarmuid O’Murchu again attempts to delve into spirituality through a multi-disciplinary analysis employing science, theology, psychology, anthropology, mythology, and the wisdom of first-nation ancestors. The Irish social scientist can never be accused of being too narrowly focused!

O’Murchu says his reason for writing his thirteenth book is to reclaim for the Great Spirit a more central role in spirituality. He suggests changing the order of the Trinity to Holy Spirit, Son and Father since the Spirit started it all and gave us Jesus who revealed the Father. Much of O’Murchu’s writing has the purpose of ridding religion and spirituality of patriarchal and anthropomorphic images which he thinks have put religion in a strait jacket unable to adapt to the vast knowledge humans have acquired about science and the origins of the universe in recent years.


The subtitle of the book is Science, Religion and Indigenous Spirituality, and so there are two chapters describing various aspects of the religions of aboriginal peoples in Africa, Asia and Australia all of which give prominence to the Great Spirit. O’Murchu wants to emphasize that the Spirit, a Cosmic Force, was present in the Universe long before humans arrived on the scene.

Several times in each chapter the author invites the reader to pause for a moment to reflect on a set of questions which challenge one to relate new ideas to long-held beliefs.


Reading any of the books by O’Murchu is difficult because of the mix of various disciplines used and because  he forces one to free oneself from the constraints of orthodox spirituality and religion to apply modern scientific and evolutionary theory  to long-held tenants.  The reward for the reader is to reveal mystery, the essence of theology.


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5 Responses to BOOK REVIEW: In The Beginning Was The Spirit

  1. Mary says:

    Thanks for sharing your review, Phil, a gift for this Feast of the Trinity! I have yet to read O’Murchu, but I recently (finally) read Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God. Did you read it? I loved her overview of emerging theologies and her take on the Trinity, which also honors the Spirit. Beautifully written, too.

  2. Tom j. j. Oster says:

    Thanks Phil: I appreciate your review for it’s clarity, and enlightenment. Seems like Diarmuid O’Murchu has an interesting way of presenting elements of our Faith.

    We are enjoying Fr. Martin Solma’s presence and sharing,    as he renews contact with friends and associates. The two week long retreats he has given were very rich,     meaningful, thought provoking, invitingly challenging.  Fr. gave us our retreat last week in Molo, Kenya,     and a couple weeks ago to our men in Zambia & Malawi, in Lilongwe, Malawi.

    May God and Mary continue to guide, enlighten, use, us all: Tom O.


  3. Ed Hoeffer says:

    Thanks, Phil! I have only read one book by this author, but it is certainly mind-stretching. Besides competence in all of the fields you reference, O’Murchu is also a poet and perhaps a mystic. This is most evident in the Eucharistic Prayers he has composed. I attended several liturgies led by RCWP (Roman Catholic Women Priests) and they were very prayerful and uplifting. I also think that “patriarchalism” is an idea who time has passed.
    Ed Hoeffer

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