We saw yesterday how Thomas Berry urges us to move beyond our anthropocentric worldview that has permeated our cultural institutions which cannot be trusted. He urges us to renew our participation in the “Grand Liturgy of the Universe” because at one time that is what ceremony was all about, marrying the microcosm (us) with the macrocosm (the universe).
This awareness was seriously rent asunder by the modern consciousness of “I think therefore I am,” (Descartes) and “we shall torture mother earth for her secrets” (Francis Bacon) and an economic, educational, political and often religious consciousness starting with the human and not with the universe—which is where indigenous peoples and creation spirituality mystics like Hildegard, Francis, Aquinas, Eckhart and Julian begin.
And the Hebrew Bible (check out Genesis one, and wisdom and prophetic literature). And the Cosmic Christ passages in the Jesus story beginning with the nativity itself right through the Pentecost narratives.
Bishop Marc Andrus and I make clear in our Stations of the Cosmic Christ that a cosmic consciousness is baked into all the great moments of the original Christ story—from angels (cosmic beings), shepherds (close-to-animal-peoples) and a star guiding gentile magi to a trough for oxen to Jesus’ baptism (when the sky opened up) to the Transfiguration, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, Pentecost—all these narratives reconnect us to the holiness of the universe.
As Thomas Aquinas put it, “the greatness of the human person consists in this: that we are capable of the universe.” Amen. And capable of praying with the universe. Wouldn’t it be appropriate then that our educational and religious institutions begin with focusing on the greatness of the human person and building that greatness up so it becomes real?
Since “ecology is functional cosmology,” (Berry), all this waking up out of the delirium of our anthropocentrism would contribute to saving Mother Earth as we know her.
Is Berry right when he says that our culture has taught us an inner rage against Mother Earth? Against nature? Against our own bodies? Do we carry this rage within? Does that explain the immense machinery of denial that permeates our cultural and political scene?
How is it possible for an entire political party and 47% of Americans to be apparently oblivious and uninterested in climate change? In raging forest fires? In unprecedented numbers and fierceness of hurricanes and floods and destruction occurring in our southern states?
In 74 million people choosing to vote for a president who thinks climate change is a “hoax”? Does the rage against nature that Berry names help explain the rage against democracy on January 6? The rage against children and gays and ordinary citizens that plays out in mass shootings invariably by young men in schools, a gay club, movie theaters, work places? In the growing number of domestic militias?
Is American manhood premised on rage? Where does all this rage come from? Might ceremony help to get to it and heal? Is lack of vital ceremonies part of the problem?
Adapted from Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus, Stations of the Cosmic Christ; and Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 21-24.
Banner Image: “Branches” 1) Counterclockwise from top left: “Forest” by Allain Siddiqui on Unsplash. 2) Thin fungal hyphae (A) form branching mycelium networks which transmit chemical messages among trees: image by TheAlphaWolf [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons). 3) Original art of the lungs as trees. Posted in essay on Singing to Trees. 4) Tributaries of the Yarlung Tsangpo River as it crosses Tibet. Photo by NASA.
Read Genesis One for what it is: A Cosmic Creation Story of how good and very good and therefore sacred the universe and earth are. How important is it that humans are placed at the end of creation and no word of sin is mentioned in the first book of the Bible? Have churches been true to this spirit of beginning religion with cosmology (and not the human)?
Stations of the Cosmic Christ
By Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus.
This is a book of meditations on the Cosmic Christ, accompanying the images of 16 wonderful clay tablets by Javier Ullrrich Lemus and M.C. Richards. Together, these images and meditations go far beyond the traditional Stations of the Cross to inspire a spirit awakening and understanding of the cosmic Christ Consciousness, Buddha consciousness, and consciousness of the image of God in all beings, so needed in our times.
“A divinely inspired book that must be read by every human being devoted to spiritual and global survival. It is cosmically brilliant.” — Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit
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