Beginning Religion with Cosmology instead of the Human

We have been meditating on the search for the ground of being and for the sacredness in creation found in all spiritual traditions.

The Sixth Extinction Official Trailer. Video by Rye Gunter

It is not something new to begin with cosmology—Genesis One does that. Indigenous peoples do that. But it has been lost during the modern era, an era notorious for its anthropocentrism and war against nature, the price of which is the decimation of millions of species, climate change and other dire realities we face today. 

Finding God in nature is not a new thing for religion—it is an old truth that was discarded in great part when patriarchy, power trips and the Discovery doctrine took over western history at the very moment European ships set sail and encountered indigenous peoples in the “new worlds” and a century later seized people from Africa to make them slaves.

Universal incarnation: The National Cathedral’s Space Window, with a lunar fragment collected during the Apollo 11 mission. Photo by Bill VanderMolen for the GPA Photo Archive, on Flickr.

Creation spirituality is all about turning from anthropocentrism to begin spirituality (the experience of the divine) not with the part (humanity) but with the whole—creation.  Geologian Thomas Berry challenges his Christian tradition to reset itself in the context of the whole, of the universe itself, when he says:

If Saint John and Saint Paul could think of the Christ form of the universe, if Aquinas could say that the whole universe together participates in the divine goodness more perfectly and represents it better than any single creature whatever, and if Teilhard could insist that the human gives to the entire cosmos its most sublime mode of being, then it should not be difficult to accept the universe itself as the primordial sacred community, the macrophase mode of every religious tradition, the context in which the divine reality is revealed to itself in that diversity which in a special manner is “the perfection of the universe.”

“Clergy and faithful advocates from across the United States came to DC on 3/10/17 to march in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.” Photo: United Church of Christ, Justice & Witness Ministries/Jessie Palatucci on Flickr.

A deepened awareness of the earth and the cosmos can bring nations together — and can also bring religions together. For “the universe itself [is] the primordial sacred community.”  It is the context of every divine revelation. Berry sees this thread of understanding in the entire Christian tradition from Paul and John in the New Testament to Aquinas in the Middle Ages and Teilhard de Chardin in the twentieth century.

The sacred cosmos does not just inspire the Christian tradition but all religious traditions.  As I pointed out in my book on The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, there is no such thing as a Buddhist ocean, a Catholic river, a Lutheran rainforest or a Baptist moon.  A creation-centered spirituality resets all our religions in the context of the cosmos.  And its child, the earth. 

Video by Caroline Webb using words written or spoken by American writer and teacher Thomas Berry on core points of the human-Earth relationship.

Can a renewed awareness of the sacred cosmos bring humanity together in a common task? It must if we are to survive.  Can all our “defense departments” turn from aiming nuclear bombs at each other and plotting new mad weapons to joining hands to pool all our resources of money, talent and technologies toward defending ourselves from climate change itself? 

Is that not THE moral question of this generation? 


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations, # 364. 

See also Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ

and Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus, Stations of the Cosmic Christ.

Banner Image: “Sun Over Earth (NASA, International Space Station, 07/21/03) This view of Earth’s horizon as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible.” Photo from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on Flickr.

What does it mean to say the universe itself is the “primordial sacred community?”  What are the implications of that for religion?  For education?  For politics?  For economics?


Recommended Reading

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.

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


Events

Join Matthew Fox for a thought-provoking 7-week course: Answer the Call for an Uncommon Life Through the Mystical Teachings of St. Hildegard, Tuesdays, 6/15 to 7/27. While the course has begun, registration remains open, with recordings of past classes available. Learn more HERE.


Join us for a Virtual Teach-in with Isa Gucciardi and Matthew Fox, hosted by Rev. Cameron Trimble.
August 13-14, 2021 (Fri-Sat)
Shamanism in Buddhism and Christianity
Session 1: Friday, August 13 at 4pm-6pm PT
Session 2: Saturday, August 14 at 9am-12pm PT
Session 3: Saturday, August 14 at 12:30pm-2:30pm PT

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5 thoughts on “Beginning Religion with Cosmology instead of the Human”

  1. Avatar

    I’m extremely grateful for these daily meditations. Matthew Fox you have since 1993 influenced my worldview. Reading and listening to you has opened my eyes so to speak to the wisdom tradition and the earth centered reverence for nature and the cosmos. Thank you!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Ellen, I too am extremely grateful for these daily meditations as well as all the other work that Matthew does. I first met Matthew on the day before he was going to be silenced in 1988. He was speaking on the cosmic Christ at the Claremont School of Theology in Southern California. Then I went to his school, The University of Creation Spirituality and was in his first graduating class. And here I am now, working for him. Never would I have dreamed back in 1988! And I’m still walking the four paths…

  2. Carol Kilby

    Matthew, you, “the Evolutionary” have been in my thoughts so much these past days. I hope you are keeping well. Sincerely. I treasure being a student, then a host, and forever a student of your lifework. These writings on cosmology first are pivotal for the religious community. Applied to the ecological crisis, the church can become a vessel of consciousness for ecojustice and the emergence of a just human Earth mutuality. This is my vision. Ever, ever grateful for the expansive and expanding education from University of Creation Spirituality.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Thank you for your comment Carol, I too am a student of Matthew’s lifework. I’m glad to have been able to hear him back in 1988, and then attend his school for my D. Min. I also wrote a letter on his behalf when he was about to be expelled from the Dominican Order which was published in his book, CONFESSIONS. I know that you have been a gift to him and the Creation Spirituality community–may God continue to bless you and YOUR work…

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