Ecology and Our Search for What it Means to be a Human – Part II

In times like ours, so marked by apocalyptic goings-on from climate change to climate change denial, from the failures of education, media, politics, economics and religion, it is important that we not succumb to despair or to non-action or to reptilian brain action-reaction. We need to go deeper within our own souls and within the genius of our species to find anew what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community.” Yes, we are witnessing the death of institutions and systems that are no longer serving us or Mother Earth well any longer. We journey into this dying in order to break into new forms of community, religion, spirituality, education—-creativity that will give birth to deeper forms of living and interacting with one another and other beings on this small, intertwined planet.

The Rev. Dr. Matin Luther King Jr. sharing his “Birth of a New Nation” sermon, April 7, 1957, at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama..

We feel that the Order of the Sacred Earth provides a new vision, but one that has precedents in our Western, Eastern and Indigenous histories. The vision we are proposing came to Matthew and Skylar in different ways in dreams three years ago. It is about a new spiritual (not religious) order. We say “not religious” because it will not be beholden to any religious headquarters or to only one religious tradition. More and more people are open to drinking in wisdom from the Earth herself, and the many spiritual traditions and practices that sustain life.

Indigenous Elder praying through traditional dance in Barrow, Alaska. Photo by Zeke Tucker on Unsplash..

Many identify themselves at this time in history as “spiritual but not religious.” It is possible of course for some people to be both spiritual and religious, but people must make an effort, all spirituality requires effort through presence, intention, practice and direct action. We include action because we are in a time when contemplation alone is insufficient in addressing the needs of our times and the more-than-human world. So our vision of a new order extends to those who call themselves spiritual but not religious, and those who identify as spiritual and religious, and also those who may call themselves either agnostic or atheist.  Whoever feels the call to help create a community vessel such as the Order of the Sacred Earth (OSE). Indeed, at our first vow-sharing ritual held in a Buddhist center in Berkeley California in which about 80 people participated, at least one of those persons identified as atheist.  A twenty-eight year old woman said to me: “I am atheist but I am looking for a community which shares my values of love of the earth.  I feel I might have found it here.”

Circle chant, “Rise with the Fire” composed by the Reclaiming Movement/Community. Found on the Chants: Ritual Music CD.

What is at stake is not a particular religious or spiritual tradition but something much larger than our specific religions: The future of Mother Earth and therefore the future of countless species including our own. All are endangered. Humans can and must make a difference.

The essence of OSE is a common vow we all make: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of Mother Earth that I can be.”

See Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, Jennifer Listug, Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action, pp.xiiif.

Banner Image: River in the Green Canyon found in the country of Iceland. Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

How does this straight-forward vow strike you? 

Can you see yourself taking it and encouraging others to take it?

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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5 thoughts on “Ecology and Our Search for What it Means to be a Human – Part II”

  1. Cynthia A Greb

    “…it is important that we not succumb to despair or to non-action or to reptilian brain action-reaction. We need to go deeper within our own souls…”
    Yes, yes, YES! This is exactly what I’ve been reflecting on and writing about. We are so tossed about by the “bad news du jour” and the emotional gut reactions that this news brings that we seem to have lost our ability to envision our future.

    I agree that old institutions and systems are starting to fall, and I welcome that with open arms. I believe the new is being born, though much of it may still be behind the scenes. Some of it, though, is happening in plain sight, but we are so blinded by all that is wrong that we can’t celebrate the good any longer! And this is very sad. We must never lose our ability to acknowledge and celebrate the Good!

  2. Avatar
    Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer

    Reverend Matthew Fox wrote: “Yes, we are witnessing the death of institutions and systems that are no longer serving us or Mother Earth well any longer.” I agree!

    Archbishop Carlo Vigano, a former Apostolic Nunciature to the United States who was recently put in the U.S. national spotlight by one of President Trump’s tweets , wrote, in a June 6, 2020, letter, that: “It is undeniable that from Vatican II onwards a parallel church [a new church] was built, superimposed over and diametrically opposed to the true Church of Christ.”  An excerpt from a OnePeterFive newspaper article reads: The hippie generation has long since disseminated, … Unless you are Catholic, of course. In our Spirit of Vatican II Catholicism, the embrace of the hippie Age of Aquarius culture endures.

    The Roman Catholic magazine, the Crisis, published an article about the October 2019 Amazon synod. The article is titled “The Amazon Synod Goes Native.” Its renowned author, William Kilpatrick, writes in the article (after researching what prominent Bishops are saying) that this synod established a “new Church,” with an “Indians’ eco-friendly [eco-tribalist], pantheistic form of spirituality,” which is “New Age spirituality,” whose adherents embrace and promote “the [hippie] ideas that became popular 60 years ago, a time when many young people thought that the ‘Age of Aquarius’ was about to dawn.”  

    A Roman Catholic Pan-Amazon Synod document reads: Indigenous “good living” expresses true quality of life (nos 8, 26 & 71), and fulfills the utopia of personal, family, communal and cosmic harmony, expressed, in turn, by the communitarian approach to existence and an austere and simple lifestyle (n° 71): Everything is shared … There is no room for the notion of an individual detached from the community or from the land”(No. 20). The indigenous people have much to teach us (n° 71), and citizens should allow themselves to be “re-educated” by them since it is through them that God wants us to embrace his mysterious wisdom (n° 72).

    Cardinal Gerhard Mueller has criticized an Amazon synod document for its “hippie” language, such as “ecological conversion” and “mother earth.” Bishop Robertus Mutsaertsis condemned the Amazon Synod for attempting to establish a “new religion” by portraying Jesus “not as the Son of God and Savior,” but as ” Jesus the philosopher, revolutionary and hippie.”

    The ultimate goal of the New Age hippie counterculture revolution is to unite the world’s religions and cultures to create, in effect, a one-world religion (i.e., a single spiritual philosophy) and global culture wherein all of humanity will live harmoniously together as one.  This revolution represents a particular type of globalization. It is promoted in the lyrics of the former Beatles’ song Imagine, sung by John Lennon: “I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”

    A Vatican press release statement on the Synod reads: “Discovering the seeds of the word of God in the cultures and traditions of the region means recognizing that Christ already lives in the peoples who have not yet heard the Gospel.” After quoting this statement, Jackie Alnor writes in an article that: “This idea underscores what the current pope has been saying since he first took office… Namely, that God speaks to people in every religion in the world – each one gets a little piece of divine revelation and if all religions unite, all humankind will be as one. (Queue up John Lennon’s Imagine)”  

    Pan-Amazon Synod Watch (PSW) is the name of the largest coalition of associations in defense of Christian civilization. It claims that the Pan-Amazon synod is “a tool to impose a radical eco-tribalist model on the Holy Catholic Church and civic society.” A statement in a PSW article reads: Quoting abundantly from his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis reiterates his “Teilhardian” and New Age worldview of a universe in which “everything is connected” (No. 41). 

    “The New Age movement mainly owes its genesis and development to Thomas Merton.” – Father John Hardon, authored The Catholic Catechism.

     The day after the Amazon synod, Pope Francis officially endorsed the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The Roman Catholic Church and the United Nations are becoming unified in purpose. Several years ago a special United Nations event was held in celebration of ‘The Spirit of the United Nations.’ The program featured an opening ‘blessing song on behalf of indigenous peoples,’ an expression to ‘thanks to Mother Earth.’ And a special rendition of the former Beatle John Lennon’s song, ‘Imagine,’ was played to those gathered at this U.N. event.

    The above paragraphs are from a new article of mine titled “Pope Francis Preaches Eco-Tribalist | Hippie New Age Beliefs.”It is located at: 

    1. Avatar

      Thomas, I agree that Pope Francis is making taking corrective steps within the Roman Catholic Church and is far more ecumenical than most of his predecessors. He is still receiving considerable resistance within the Vatican. The Dalai Lama and Pope Francis have a quite similar worldview. It is unfortunate that they may never meet because of opposition from China.

  3. Avatar

    Thank you Matthew. It is important to remain hopeful, even if the positive changes may not occur in our lifetimes. I am 77 and very much disturbed by all the evil but very much inspired by you and by all the goodness that is springing up all over the place. I am content with not living to see all the fruits of this good work by you and so many others.

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