Fox and Bucko on Ritual and Its Future

Dear Friends,

This week is the 18-month anniversary of our Daily Meditations.  Happy Anniversary to all our helpers and to all our readers and meditators! 

Hopefully these meditations are nourishing you in your work to stay grounded and to serve people in various ways during the on-going COVID pandemic as well as the climate emergency.  To be strong and creative in demanding times. See below for ways you can support our efforts.

For today’s meditation, we offer a conversation between Matthew Fox and Reciprocity Foundation founder Adam Bucko on the role and future of ritual in these times….

Matthew Fox: I see ritual as the inner work of the tribe, the inner work of the group.  And that’s just as important as the inner work of the individual—you need both.  In many ways, ritual is what makes tribe and community possible.  This is why African ritual teacher Malidoma Some, says “there’s no community without ritual.”  

Short video showcasing the Occupy Spirituality book written by Matthew Fox and Adam Bucko. Originally posted to YouTube by Radical Spirituality.

When you look at today’s broken world, it’s all about loss of community, isn’t it?  We’ve lost our pattern of connection with the soil, with the forest, with the animals, with the cosmos itself, as well as with other human beings.

Adam Bucko: That’s why it’s so easy for us to participate in structures that actually are hurtful to people and the planet, because we’re not connected to those that we’re hurting.

Fox: Yes, I am thinking of bomber pilots who drop bombs from forty thousand feet or oil executives making decisions from high up their skyscrapers about the future of the planet and climate change—such decision-making is not connected to the beings who are affected by their decisions.

Bucko: So what makes ritual possible and what makes ritual successful?

Short video showcasing Matthew Fox discussing the importance of recreating ritual and specifically, sharing about the Cosmic Mass. Originally posted to YouTube on The Cosmic Mass (TCM) page.

Fox: An African American theologian said to me over forty years ago, when I was living in Chicago, “I think 95% of white worship is dead.”  And I asked, “how do you define dead worship?”  “Dead worship is where you walk in, and you walk out the same person—where no transformation really happens.”  My response was: “Well then, you are wrong. I think 98% of white worship is dead.”

People are hungry for ritual.  Why wouldn’t they be?  It’s in our bones and DNA.  Humans and other animals do it, but church is ineffective at it at this time in history, because its forms are modern, but we are living in postmodern times.  And the synagogue isn’t much better, frankly, and for the same reason. 

German Folk Dancers. Photo by jf 1234 on Flickr.

By “modern” in form I mean the whole idea of sitting in benches and being preached at.  Lines of benches, like lines or printing type.  Very industrial.  Very mechanistic.

Circles and dancing and spiral dancing cuts through such modern patterns of sitting passively.  Awakening the body awakens spirit.

Bucko: You have certainly created rituals that really do transform people, especially your Cosmic Mass.  It not only speaks to young people but also brings different generations together.

Fox: In my Coming of the Cosmic Christ book, I laid out six principles for revitalizing ritual.

Creation Spirituality Artists Rev. Jean Ando and  Ellen Kennedy leading body prayer at a Matthew Fox /Susan Coppage Evans Via Positiva Retreat in Boulder CO. 

Reset all of worship in a cosmological context.
Bring the body back.
Bring play back.
Make room for the via negativa—darkness, silence, grief.
Awaken and nurture the prophet.
Bring participation back.

Each of these principles is so important.  We spoke to Number Two above, that of the role of body to awaken spirit.  In many languages around the world, “spirit” and “breath” are the same words (also in Biblical languages).  In many African languages, spirit, breath and dance are the same word.  

(To be continued.)

Adapted from Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation, pp. 138f. 

See also Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, pp. 212-225.

Banner Image: Rajasthani folk dance, Republic Day 2011 at Akshara school, Yelahanka. Photo by Kandukuru Nagarjun on Flickr.

 Do you agree that connections that ritual can bring are vital to human community, joy and survival?  What follows from that?

Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation

Authors Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox encourage us to use our talents in service of compassion and justice and to move beyond our broken systems–economic, political, educational, and religious–discovering a spirituality that not only helps us to get along, but also encourages us to reevaluate our traditions, transforming them and in the process building a more sacred and just world. Incorporating the words of young activist leaders culled from interviews and surveys, the book provides a framework that is deliberately interfaith and speaks to our profound yearning for a life with spiritual purpose and for a better world.
Occupy Spirituality is a powerful, inspiring, and vital call to embodied awareness and enlightened actions.”
~~ Julia Butterfly Hill, environmental activist and author of The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

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8 thoughts on “Fox and Bucko on Ritual and Its Future”

  1. Avatar

    Firstly Happy 18mnth Anniversary and ahead of tomorrow happy Deepavali.
    Yes please do keep these meditations going, I’m sure I echo the rest of this group.
    I’m loving the recent ritual discussions, really resonates with me. Fantastic,bold,powerful stuff! Pre modern wisdom for post modern times!!!

  2. Avatar

    Congratulations – eighteen months of bringing joy and hope into my home.
    Your “Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox” is my first “go-to” every morning.
    Many, many thanks to Matthew Fox and staff.
    Blessings and peace to you all.

    Joan Doyle

  3. Avatar

    As you develop rituals using the body creatively, PLEASE, PLEASE find ways to include those who cannot dance, walk, or lift their arms because of physical limitations. They need to be part of the community rituals too.

    1. Avatar

      I have not yet seen disability addressed or incorporated in these meditations, especially around rituals. Thank you for the reminder, and perhaps they will find a way to do so. I am quite disabled and would like to be included. Matthew is so creative and warm hearted that he can find a way I think.

  4. Avatar

    Thank you Susan for bringing this into our conversation. It is of vital importance to include all in ‘the dance’. In my teaching and leading Sacred Circle Dance, especially in large groups I draw from the Native American ‘Long Dance’ traditions I have experienced. Three circles are created with different levels of participation surrounded by the elders and those who ‘dance in their hearts’,
    Honored as Sacred Witnesses. When I led the Spiral Dance at the Cosmic Mass at the Parliament of World Religions In Toronto I found it organically happened. All present found a place in the ritual. All participated dancing in the spiral or dancing in their hearts. We were One.
    Yours in the dance, Ellen

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