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. 

Miniature of Pope Alexander VI, author of four bulls dividing non-Christian lands among Catholic nations. Wikimedia Commons.

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. 

Creation within cosmology: “Seventh Day of Creation,” from the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel. Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Activist and former California State senator Tom Hayden narrates a meditation on the new cosmology and humanity’s need for a guiding story of our role in creation. Video by Bioneers.

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?

Recommended Readings

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.

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.

Upcoming Events

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.

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13 thoughts on “We Are Because the Universe Is”

  1. Avatar

    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.
    Sayings like, ” Those poor heathens” were used in many movies not too long ago.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      When you look at the “Discovery Doctrine” and what it meant to the people who experienced the imperialism of the Church, the Pope did look like the Beast of Revelation as portrayed in the woodcuts of Albrecht Durer and in the writings of the early Reformers!

  2. Carol Kilby

    WOW! THANK YOU MATTHEW, This is the tapestry of all your work hung in all its radiance for the world to view. The resources, video and images, are spectacular. What a team. Thank you DM Team.

    1. Avatar

      (speaking for the DM team here) – thank you, Carol! This work is a blessing to all involved.
      Phila Hoopes
      Blog Coordinator

      1. Avatar
        Jeanette Metler

        Lady Wisdom, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has been calling, invoking, revealing, awakening all of humanity…leading all whom respond to the unity and yet diversity of that inherent goodness and beauty within the all and the everything of creation…founded and rooted in the collective Vision, Meaning and Purpose of Eternal Divine Love. All things created are sacred, beloved, valued, treasured…a blessed gift given to be accepted, received, acknowledged, and responded to with tenderness, compassion and passionate care. This is the Mother Heart, Mind, Soul and Spirit of Wisdom…She Who Is…was and ever shall be.

  3. Avatar

    I thank Mathew and the team also for the spectacular and inspiring resources that they share every day.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Kristal, the first time I heard Matthew talk, I believed that Creation Spirituality was a chance to start Christianity over again !!!

  4. Avatar

    I wonder if Matthew would be willing to consider writing a book about the injustices and destructive consequences of the “The Doctrine of Discover” by the church and the legal western institutions toward indigenous peoples and lands in history up to the present time.
    I only recently became aware of it and I was shocked! A book by Matthew could bring more awareness and justice, especially since there is more talk of reparations. I heard recently one Native American attorney suggesting that Indian tribes should be allowed to legally manage all the national forests if the federal government had the will. That would be a great just reparation for Native Americans!
    – Damian Maureira
    P.S. I haven’t commented on this before!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Damian, a book such as you mention sounds like it would be of great help. Whether Matthew would be able to get to it, would be wholly up to him. But thanks for your comment and do comment more!

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