We have been meditating on the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality as found in Howard Thurman and had just embarked on the Fourth Path–the Via Transformativa or work of justice and compassion–when the January 6th investigation began in Congress.
We turned to the powerful witness of the four policemen to courage, magnanimity, and healthy masculinity, invoking the teachings of Thurman, Aquinas, Hildegard and Soelle about the healthy vs. toxic masculine. We continue our explorations here with reflections on the archetype of the spiritual warrior and the healthy masculine which those four men represent to all of us.
Every person is called to be a warrior. There is no warrior work without inner work. The warrior has faced limits and death and does not hide from them or repress them.
A warrior serves others, he does not kill others. He serves others, not just his ego. A warrior stands up for justice and the vulnerable and does so on principle, not on the guarantee of success, insurance policies or fame.
The warrior has learned to steer his and her moral outrage into creative alternatives. The warrior is aware and awake, not asleep and not busy mouthing tired shibboleths from the past. The warrior acts and does not just imagine. The warrior endures and perseveres. He/she also preserves what is good and beautiful and sacred from the past and the ancestors. He/she relates to the past and the future—the children. The world needs more warriors and fewer soldiers.
The archetype of the spiritual warrior addresses the question: What to do with male aggression and competition? How steer both into healthy directions?
Aggression after all is common to soldier and warrior, athlete and preacher, business person and taxi driver. It is in all of us. The issue is: What to do with it? Aggression can show itself as war, as one-sided sex (sex as conquest), as passivity (beating up on oneself: “I can’t do that…”), as business one-up-man-ship, as healthy or unhealthy competition. What to do with it?
A warrior is distinct from a soldier—this is the teaching in any indigenous tribe I have ever heard of. A Vietnam veteran named Broken Walk volunteered to go to war at seventeen and came back very broken. He says this:
There’s a difference between being a soldier and being a warrior. Don’t ever get these two confused. When I was in the army I was a soldier. I was a puppet doing whatever anybody told me to do, even if it meant going against what my heart told me was right. I didn’t know nothing about being a warrior until I hit the streets and marched alongside my brothers for something I really believed in. When I found something I believed in, a higher power found me. That’s it. That’s the story.
This man found his soul again protesting war and going to jail for it. So do those who resisted the destruction of our democracy at great personal cost on January 6.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, pp. 77f.
Banner Image: A veteran holds up a Veterans For Peace flag at a protest outside the Federal Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis. Protesters gathered on July 23rd, 2020 to protest federal officers being deployed to cities around the country. Photo by Chad Davis, Veterans For Peace, on Flickr.
Is there a spiritual warrior in you? Has the witness of the policemen on January 6 and July 27 assisted you in developing your spiritual warrior and healthy masculinity (whether you be male or female)?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God
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