Today many people, especially young adults, recognize that the times are too dire and the demands too great to be journeying with all the paraphernalia of religions that has accumulated during the past eras. We need to travel with backpacks, not basilicas on our backs. We also need to take the treasures from the burning buildings that were our religious institutions of the past.

Mass gathering for the Fire Drill Fridays. Photo Credit: Rev. John Dear

We were told that Nero fiddled while Rome burned but today the Earth itself is burning and many are still fiddling while scientists point to waters rising, glaciers melting, countless species of animals, birds, fishes, insects and forests disappearing. We can easily be so swept up in our anthropocentric work, social media and daily obligations that we lose sight of the burning going on around us. We fiddle while the earth burns. Academia fiddles, economists fiddle, politicians fiddle, media fiddles (and titillates), religion fiddles as it argues over doctrines, dogmas, rules, ordinations, homosexuals, other religions and more.

Why OSE?

“Wake Up” call to get involved in the work of climate justice. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

At this critical time in human and planetary history, what Buddhist scholar and activist Joanna Macy calls “The Great Turning,” the world does not need a new religion or even a reshuffling of our old religions. It does not need a new church either. What it needs is a new religious/spiritual Order, that is to say, a community of people from varied belief systems (or non-belief systems) who share a passion for saving our common home, the earth.  A community who take a sacred vow to preserve Mother Earth and to become the best lovers (mystics) and defenders (warriors) they can be on behalf of Earth. A post-denominational Order and a post-religious Order. Therefore, a Spiritual Order.

On September 17, 2014 I was awakened at 4 AM with a simple mandate: “Do this!” Later in the day I wrote on a scrap of paper what the dream had told me to do: “To launch a new ‘religious’ order which is in fact a spiritual order that is deeply ecumenical and creation centered, allowing for people to more easily and joyfully carry on their varied vocations to save Mother Earth within a loose but real sense of community. It would take us beyond Institutional Religion and Institutional Education as we know them.”

The words of Greta Thunberg on a protest sign. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Philosopher and economist David Korten writes: “The deepest moral and spiritual issue of our day centers on the defining choice evoked in the biblical admonition that no one can serve two masters.  We must choose between God (the spirit of life) and money.  Pope Francis has observed that money itself is not evil.  He admonishes, however, that the idolatry (worship) of money is profoundly evil.  His Encyclical Letter Laudato Si calls all of humanity to accept our responsibility “to care for Mother Earth—to care for life.” 

Adapted from Matthew Fox, “The Order of the Sacred Earth,” in Order of the Sacred Earth, pp. 3f.; and David Korten, “A New Enlightenment” in Order of the Sacred Earth, pp. 127f.

Banner Image: Hawk flying in bright blue sky. Photo by Walter Carlson on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

How do you hear the “Great Turning” calling to you and to us at this time? 

How is this influencing your work and your citizenship?

Recommended Reading

Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug

In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.”  ~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope.

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2 thoughts on “Why OSE?”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you, Matthew. We have been gifted with a planet of spectacular beauty. This morning I awoke to an unexpected snowfall and so offer this poem I wrote in 2010.


    7:30 a.m.
    Six inches of white fluffy snow and more falling
    Even inside the house
    Two red-capped women walk by
    Footprints in the snow
    One bears a cane
    Off to some adventure
    A misty swim perhaps
    Even the solar lamps lining my driveway have bulbous white mushroom caps.
    Manzanitas bowed down
    Tall ponderosas fresh from an Austrian ballet
    Deciduous trees all white, all white, all white
    But for small black portions of trunk
    Reminding us
    That they are not simply frozen gossamer.
    One color only now outside my office window
    A small yellow sign: “Dip”
    A synonym, of course, for “Bow.”
    ‘+.,.+’ ‘+.,.+’ ‘+.,.+’

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Thank you, Michele,
      This is a powerful poem. Thank you for sharing it and reminding us to pause and notice where we are, what the weather has done, and what a miracle Earth is. You certainly gave me pause to stop tapping on this laptop and listen to the rain outside my window.

      The flow of your poem fits the flow of the Order of the Sacred Earth. You began with praise and gratitude for Earth’s beauty and led us artfully towards awe. Your poem is one way to be “the best lover and defender of Mother Earth that you can be.” Working on our heart, mind, spirit connection is powerful transformative business. Why not call together an OSE pod of poets?
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditatiob Team

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