The American Teilhard Association for the Future of Man, Incorporated (1974)
The 1974 Annual Meeting was again held at the Church of the Holy Trinity. Ewert Cousins was reelected President, Pieter de John and Jean Houston became Vice-Presidents, Theodosius Dobzhansky was the Honorary Vice-President, Winifred McCulloch was elected Secretary, and Pemala Alderson became Treasurer. The Board of Directors had now grown to include Thomas Berry, Anne Martin Brennan, Beatrice Bruteau, Elizabeth Fish, Robert Francoeur, Richard Givens, Donald Gray, Alice Knight, R. Wayne Kraft, Margaret Bach Lynch, Robert McGuire, S.J., Gertrud Mellon, and Roger Wescott. Elizabeth Fish, a member from the first 1968 meeting, was our liaison with St. James' Church. Roger Wescott, Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Drew University, was also a linguist, futurologist, and poet.
The Secretary reported that there were 482 members. She reported also that there were now 550 books in the library and that most of the French books and paperbacks had been handsomely bound by one of our members, Liliane Zemla. (She and her husband, Joseph, were familiar figures at the evening seminars where they were in charge of the admissions desk.) The library was enriched by another member whom we never saw at the Center for he was a house-bound invalid. Edward Quinn was an inspired teacher of Teilhard's thought to a small circle of his friends, and on his death, at his request, his friends, instead of sending him flowers, made a small gift to the Association's library. We used this special bequest to purchase volumes of the Oeuvres and letters published in France.
The most important matter of business was the report of the Committee on the change of the name. There were two proposals: The Teilhard Center for an Evolving World and The American Teilhard Association for the Future of Man. After much discussion the latter was chosen. It overcame the difficulties of the old name which gave the impression of an Association dedicated merely to the study of the life and thought of an individual and indicated an active goal to be worked for in society. Foundations are not likely to give financial support for the perpetuation of one man's ideas, and as we intended to seek some funding for our work we hoped that our new name more accurately expressed the purpose of the Association. Later, during the luncheon, a round of applause greeted announcement of our choice.
Thomas Berry was the afternoon speaker that year: his subject, "The Dynamics of the Future."
Mr. Edward Mcguire, Jr., the lawyer who had helped so generously in the incorporation of the Association back in 1967, was approached once more. When the Secretary asked him to give an estimate of his fee he replied laconically, "You can't afford me" and then proceeded to generously donate his services as a tribute to Minna. We here record our deep appreciation of the time he devoted to our cause that long, hot summer. Upon a vote of 51 members of the two Boards, with 4 against the motion, our new name became effective in September of 1974.
Alice Knight's book, Teilhard de Chardin: a Primer, had been published late in the spring, eliciting most favorable reviews, and that autumn she led a well-attended discussion group in which she introduced Teilhard's enormous vision from the "big bang" to Omega, all enlivened by her artist's gift for improvising illustrations. Thomas Berry, with his concern for the spiritual traditions of mankind, offered the first of his seminars on "Spirituality of the American Indian," and Fr. McGuire continued his Friday evening sessions using Teilhardian themes in a charismatic program to help individuals in search of spiritual growth.
Some thought was now given to the fact that 1975 would be the Twentieth Anniversary of Teilhard's death. Fr. Almagno had made over to the Association all rights to his definitive bibliography - it already contained some 3,000 items and was about 250 pages in length - and we hoped to publish it. It would find its place in university libraries throughout the English speaking world and also those in French, German, Spanish and Italian speaking countries. The Secretary's visit to a Trust Officer at the Chase Bank headquarters (surprisingly he had attended Fordham and already knew about Teilhard and did attend one of our Executive Committee meetings) was fruitless because their funds had to be committed to more socially active programs. And her visit to The National Foundation for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. elicited the information that money was not available for publication but only for research (which had already been done). Likewise, attempts by Gertrud Mellon and Ewert Cousin to interest the Rockefeller Committee for Critical Choices were equally unsuccessful.
Whatever we were to accomplish would have to be done with the same inadequate funding on which we had existed for the past eight years.