Armed with documents known as “the Discovery Doctrine” that gave papal permission to conquer in the name of Christ the Redeemer, European empire-builders from the 15th century on set out to conquer the world. And the earth.
Alas, Protestant imperialism followed suit.
But today is a new day. We have a new science that informs us of a creation story that, like Genesis One, underscores the goodness and uniqueness of our Earth and the universe to which we all belong.
With mother earth in peril, it is important that we gird ourselves with a spirituality today that does not begin with the human—as our entire Western culture has done during the modern era.
“I think therefore I am”–what is more egocentric than those words spoken by one of the key philosophers of the Enlightenment, Descartes, who is still, sorry to say, the patron of western education?
No, Mr. Descartes. We are because the universe is; and because the earth is; ours is not an “I think” existence but a “we are existence,” an existence of interdependence, not of “I think” who stands alone.
We are because 13.8 billion years have been.
Such a spirituality is creation spirituality. It does not begin—just as the bible does not begin—with the human and with our problems of evil-making. That is considered in chapters 2 and 3 of the Bible creation story.
First comes cosmology. The whole. The context. The goodness and very goodness of creation.
Let us start religion over and begin with that. Let us start Christianity over and begin with that. After all, that is where Jesus begins. His call to recognize that the “kingdom of God is among you (or within you)” is such a new beginning. Basiliea (kingdom) means creation after all. That is what creation spirituality is all about. Jesus derives from the wisdom tradition that found God and the divine in nature.
Christianity has to back up and begin all over. It’s not that hard really. Many are the wonderful mystical teachers who have taught us these things. From Mary Oliver to Hildegard of Bingen; from Emily Dickinson to Julian of Norwich; from Thomas Merton, Thomas Berry and Teilhard de Chardin to Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart and Mechtild of Magdeburg. From Jesus and Paul to poets and musicians everywhere. Many scientists showing us the way today including Albert Einstein, David Bohm, Joel and Nancy Primack, Brian Swimme, Peter Russell, and many more.
Scientist and theologian Nicolas of Cusa put it this way at the dawn of the sixteenth century renaissance while working in Greece outside the secure boundaries of his Roman Catholic world:
Even though you are designated in terms of different religions, yet you presuppose in all this diversity one religion which you call wisdom.
Furthermore, most of us do experience the awe and wonder, beauty and gratuity, of creation and nature and find God there—just like these other mystics through the ages. All the world’s religious traditions say something similar.
To be continued.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, p. 241;
Also see Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 26-49.
Banner Image: The history of nature from the Big Bang to the present day, shown graphically in a spiral with notable events annotated. Every billion years (Ga) is represented by 90 degrees of rotation of the spiral. Image by Pablo Carlos Budassi with the help of the evolutionary biology researcher Professor Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, on Wikimedia Commons.
Do you see in all different religions “one religion which you call wisdom”? What follows from that?
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.
Join Matthew Fox for a free, thought-provoking hour and Find Inspiration & Healing in the Radical Teachings of St. Hildegard: Discover the Uncommon Life of This 12th-Century Mystic to Reconnect to Nature & the Divine, Thursday, June 3, 4:00pm-6:00pm PT (GMT/UTC-7). Register HERE.