Books by Chet Raymo

When God is Gone Everything is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist

Published 2008

Ave Maria Press

Chet Raymo, author of sixteen books, steps into the fray between science and religion and seeks to delineate a new perspective, forged from both the rigorous standards of the academy and the reverence for creation born of the Catholic sacramental tradition. As a scientist, Raymo holds to the skepticism that accepts only verifiable answers, and replies to life's ultimate questions with the agnostic response, "I don't know." But as a "religious naturalist," he never ceases his pursuit of "the beautiful and terrible mystery that soaks creation, diminished by any name we give it." "Faith no longer matters to me," he says, "so much as attention, celebration, wonder, and praise."

In what he describes as a "late-life credo," Raymo traces a half-century journey from traditional faith-based Catholicism to scientific agnosticism. The point of religion, he asserts, is to celebrate the unfathomable mystery of creation. Thus he believes, "My work as a teacher and writer has been to discover glimmers of the Absolute in every particular, and praise what I find."

Raymo takes the reader on a tour de force of science, philosophy, theology, and literature as he gathers together the rich array of voices of his many traveling companions. With wonderfully detailed anecdotes Raymo brings to life a diverse cadre of mentors such as Gerard Manley Hopkins, Charles Darwin, and Teilhard de Chardin. With wit and insight he brings forth an array of quotes from the likes of Blaise Pascal, Albert Einstein, Meister Eckhart and John Updike.

Whether exploring the connection of the human body to the stars or the meaning of prayer of the heart, Raymo's challenging and engaging reflections will cause believers and agnostics alike to pause and pay attention.

Purchase from Ave Maria Press

In the Falcon's Claw: A Novel of the Year 1000

Published 1995 | New Edition 2007

Cowley Publications

In the year 998 AD, much of Christian Europe believes the Apocalypse is just two years away.  The Church is seeking to overcome the decaying Holy Roman Empire by asserting absolute authority in interpreting the will of God.   Aileran, abbot of a now-abandoned island monastery off the coast of Ireland, a man once believed to be a saint, is called to account for heresy.   His accuser was once his best friend, Gerbert, the charismatic fellow monk who first introduced Aileran to literature, geometry, the pleasures of the flesh, and sin, and who is now known as Pope Sylvester II.

Alone in self-exile, racked with pride, guilt and despair, Aileran struggles to make sense of the events that have led him to this pass.   He recalls his idyllic childhood and the violence that brought it to an abrupt end; his education and adventures in monastery and court; and above all, his passionate nd troubled relationship with the woman Melisande.   Eventually Aileran will leave his beautiful and desolate island to stand trial and to confront Gerbert and the woman he failed in love.   But before the year 1000 dawns, one heretic at least will have to die.

Based on real events, places and people, In the Falcon's Claw is a stunning evocation of the political and pastoral landscapes of tenth-century Europe and a resonant tale of love and friendship.  In the startlingly beautiful prose that distinguishes all his work, Chet Raymo brings the distant past to life while exploring timeless questions of faith and spirit.

Purchase from Amazon

Valentine: A Love Story

Published 2005 | New Edition 2007

Cowley Publications

Very little is know about the man who gave his name to romantic love, but bestselling novelist Chet Raymo has imagined Valentine's life and brought it vividly to the printed page.

There has long been a suggestion that Valentine was a doctor, and Raymo has built his story around the romance of the physician Valentine and the blind Julia, daughter of a Roman jailer.   Their love story provides the central thread of this engrossing novel, which also brings alive the world of the Roman Empire during the reign of Claudius II -- a time of clashing and evolving worldviews, in which Christianity was on the rise while Christians were still among those whose deaths provided public entertainment in the Circus Maximus.

Valentine is a novel with remarkable resonances; its ideas startlingly relevant to our own times: globalization vs. fundamentalism, reason vs. superstition. the subversion of virtue by wealth -- and the power of passionate love to overcome all obstacles to its consummation.

Purchase from Amazon

Walking Zero : Discovering Cosmic Space and Time Along the Prime Meridian

Published 2006

Walker & Company

In Walking Zero, Chet Raymo uses the Prime Meridian-the line of zero longitude and the standard for all the world's maps and clocks-to tell the story of humandkind's intellectual journey from a cosmos not much larger than ourselves to the universe of the galaxies and geologic eons.

As in his highly praised The Path and Climbing Brandon, Raymo connects personally with the story by walking England's Prime Meridian from Brighton through Greenwich to the North Sea. The Prime Meridian passes near a surprising number of landmarks that loom large in science: Isaac Newton's chambers at Trinity College, Cambridge; Charles Darwin's home at Down, in Kent; the site where the first dinosaur fossils were discovered; and John Harrison's clocks in a museum room of the Royal Observatory, among many others. Visiting them in turn, Raymo brings to life the human dramas of courageous individuals who bucked reigning orthodoxies to expand our horizons, including one brave rebel who paid the ultimate price for surmising the multitude of worlds we now take for granted.

Purchase from Amazon | AmazonUK.

Climbing Brandon: Science and Faith on Ireland's Holy Mountain

Published 2004

Walker & Company

Mount Brandon is one of several holy mountains in Ireland that attracts scores of believers and secular trekkers from around the world. For thirty-two years, Chet Raymo has lived part of each year on the Dingle peninsula, near the foot of the mountain, and has climbed it perhaps a hundred times, exploring paths that have been used for centuries by pilgrims in search of spiritual enlightenment. But the history and geography of Mount Brandon are what draw Raymo to it and offer him a lens through which to view modern conflicts between science and religion.

Purchase from Amazon | AmazonUK.

The Path: A One Mile Walk Through The Universe

Published 2003

Walker & Company

For nearly forty years, Chet Raymo has walked a one-mile path from his house in North Easton, Massachusetts, to the Stonehill College campus where he has taught physics and astronomy. The woods, meadows, and stream he passes are as familiar to him as his own backyard, yet each day he finds something new. "Every pebble and wildflower has a story to tell," Raymo says.

In The Path, Raymo chronicles the universe he has found by closely observing every detail of this route. He connects the local to the global, the microscopic to the galactic, with a scientist's curiosity, a historian's respect for the past, and a child's capacity for wonder. With each step, the landscape he traverses becomes richer and more multidimensional, opening door after door into astronomy, geology, biology, history and literature.

Purchase from Amazon | AmazonUK.

Honey from Stone: A Naturalist's Search for God

Originally Published 1987 | Reprinted 2005

Cowley Publications

What is the relevance of traditional religion in a world described by contemporary science? Is scientific knowledge a satisfactory ground for religious experience? Can the language of traditional religion constitute an appropriately modern language of praise?

In the framework of the medieval Book of Hours, the author's thoughts and meditations on nature, science, and religion seek to answer these questions. The landscape of the Dingle Peninsula in the west of Ireland, where Chet Raymo has spent a good part of his life, triggered these reflections on the natural world, the significance of science, and the spiritual conundrums facing modern humankind. Noted Irish artist Bob O'Cathail's linocuts emphatically and lyrically echo the author's words.

Purchase from Amazon | AmazonUK.

The Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimage

Originally Published 1985 | Reprinted 2005

Cowley Publications

In the visionary yet intimate tradition of Carl Sagan and Lewis Thomas, The Soul of the Night joins science to the deeper personal concerns of philosophy. It is an astronomer's odyssey through the heavens, bonding the glorious, mysterious phenomena of the night sky to the workings of the human mind and psyche. It is an exploration of how the stars reinforce our humanity, one that moves through the realms of mythology, literature, religion, history, and anthropology for its inspiration.

Illustrated by Michael McCurdy with striking woodcuts that are themselves visual poems in the tradition of William Blake, The Soul of the Night is remarkable in many ways. It adds a new dimension to the science of space that so captures our modern imagination.

Purchase from Amazon | AmazonUK.

An Intimate Look at the Night Sky

Published 2001

Walker & Company

"We are children of the night," proclaims Chet Raymo in this rich, exciting guide to the universe. Not so very long ago, the night sky was an intimate part of people's lives, often a source of religious and poetic inspiration. Gradually, though, the glare of city lights, a fast-paced lifestyle, and "prime-time" television have eroded that intimacy. This book offers you the chance to recapture a personal connection to the heavens, enlarging your concept and appreciation of the universe rather than feeling diminished by its scale.

Purchase from Amazon | AmazonUK.

Natural Prayers

Published 2000

Ruminator Books

Informed by his works as a physicist and astronomer, Raymo strives to connect with that which unifies our intricate world, and thus effectively explores the wonders of what Nikos Kazantzakis called "the dread essence beyond logic." The "natural prayers" that flow from the pages of Raymo's work, then, begin as mere observation of his surroundings in the Bahamas, New England, and Ireland, and slowly open into profound meditations immersed in the languages of science and literature.

Purchase from Amazon | AmazonUK.

Skeptics and True Believers

Published 1998

Walker & Company

Years ago, noted science teacher and writer Chet Raymo embarked upon his own quest to reconcile the miracle stories he learned as a child with the science he learned as an adult. Skeptics and True Believers is the culmination of that search - a passionate, ever-inquisitive statement that science and religion can mutually reinforce the way we experience the world.

Acknowledging that the scientific and the spiritual communities are increasingly split, Raymo builds strong bridges between them. He illustrates his argument with an array of thought-provoking stories, such as the remarkable migratory flight of a small bird called the red knot; the long, glorious glide of Comet Hyakutake across the night sky; a hilarious alien abduction that didn't happen. Together, they are compelling evidence that religion should embrace the reliable knowledge of the world that science provides, while at the same time science should respect and nourish humankind's need for spiritual sustenance. "Miracles are explainable," Raymo paraphrases the writer Tim Robinson, "it is the explanations that are miraculous."

For anyone drawn to reflect on life's meaning and purpose, Chet Raymo's uncompromising skepticism and reverence for mystery will affirm and inspire.

Purchase from Amazon | AmazonUK.

The Dork of Cork: A Novel

Published 1993

Warner Books

Frank Bois is 43 years old and 43 inches tall. But his yearnings are as wide and deep as the night sky he contemplates from his rooftop in Cork, Ireland. Having lived until now in anonymity, he has just written a memoir that will become an overnight literary sensation. Yet even fame will not be able to shield him from the past: his mother's tragic childhood in Nazi-occupied France, her erotic, destructive relationships with the three men who loved her, and Frank's own enduring passion for a woman he believes is as unreachable as the Milky Way. All of it will be part of the great adventure that awaits him in both the outside world and the universe within...all of it surrounded by the green, misty essence of Ireland, a place where miracles do happen.

The Dork of Cork was released as a film, Frankie Starlight, in 1995 by FineLine Features.

Purchase from Amazon | AmazonUK.

365 Starry Nights: An Introduction to Astronomy for Every Night of the Year

Originally Published 1982 | Reprinted 1990

Simon & Schuster

365 Starry Nights is a unique and fascinating introduction to astronomy designed to give you a complete, clear picture of the sky every night of the year. Divided into 365 concise illustrated essays, it focuses on the aesthetic as well as the scientific aspects of stargazing. It offers hundreds of charts, drawings, and maps that take you beyond the visible canopy of stars and constellations into the unseen realm of nebulae and galaxies.

Purchase from Amazon | AmazonUK.

Books by Chet Raymo and Maureen E. Raymo

Written in Stone: A Geologic History of the Northeastern United States

Originally Published 1989 | Reprinted 2001

Black Dome Press

In vivid, nontechnical prose, Written in Stone traces the geologic changes in the Northeast since North America perched on the equator and dinosaurs were young. Grand events unfold as continents collide, oceans disappear, mountain ranges rises and fall, and mass extinctions decimate entire species.

The story, written in stone, translates the slow motion of geologic time into a gripping account of the forces that shaped our familiar landscape from Maine to New Jersey. This tale will inform and fascinate all who enter its realm.

Visit co-author Maureen E. Raymo's website here.

Purchase from Amazon | AmazonUK.