As we stand back and look critically at what is transpiring on this planet today—and in the U.S. —we can see that climate change, coronavirus, hundreds of years of racist history and genocide toward indigenous peoples, the rise of extreme nationalist movements, and the role that bad religion. reptilian-brain-driven patriarchy and cannibal capitalism have played in so much loss and destruction and present-day angst, we can recognize that the human race is in deep trouble.
Yes, we are facing extinction and extinctions, many of them. Our planet as we know it may go extinct but it will survive greatly diminished in beauty and variety.
It will outlive human perfidy and stupidity no matter what we do in our immense effort to destroy ourselves while raining down perdition on millions of other species.
At a time like this, one hungers for wisdom and not just knowledge. Our culture rarely if ever “invests” in wisdom.
Our educational system banished wisdom (she’s feminine after all around the world and in the Bible) centuries ago in favor of human narcissism and knowledge and gathering of information and facts and then computers came along to hold all the information and facts.
Facts are a wonderful thing. But they are not the whole thing. Facts alone will not save the human race or the planet as we know it. As physicist David Bohm put it, “we need something more than science.”
Rabbi Heschel warned us that “humanity will not be saved by more information but by more appreciation.” Gratitude lies in the realm of the mystical (the Via Positiva) and is rarely if ever taught in hallowed halls of academia dedicated to raw knowledge and therefore raw power–what Thomas Berry called “academic barbarism.”
Wisdom embraces both head and heart, intellect and intuition, survival and values. Einstein says it is from intuition that we derive our values. He warned us not to put all our eggs into the basket of rationality that, he said, gives us methods but not values.
But we did not listen. Which is why he also said, “I abhor American education.” Einstein defined intuition as “deep feeling” and the word I equate with intuition is mysticism. The search for wisdom is often found most deeply expressed by the mystics. I cite Einstein because no one can accuse him of being anti-intellectual.
It has been my privilege the past three weeks to be teaching a course on line with Shift Network on the mystical and prophetic scientific genius, Thomas Aquinas.
Two nights ago our class was entitled: “Aquinas on ‘What does it mean to be human?’” I think that question—whoever we be or wherever we are—is the question for our day, our time of peril and possibility, choice and change.
Heschel says that human sin is “the refusal to become who we are.” Of course this understanding requires our coming to grips with who we are, who we have been, who we might become or evolve into. To be continued
See Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times.
Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality.
Banner Image: Climate Angels at Extinction Rebellion Declaration Day Melbourne. Photo by John Englart on Flickr.
Do you also recognize humanity at a crossroads today? How do you see your call, your vocation, in helping respond to that new direction and new choices facing us?
The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times
A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book! Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit
Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality
Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him. He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French). He gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way.
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake