Reflecting on the Nazi state steeped in obedience, Dorothee Soelle writes,

Surely it is no longer possible to speak of obedience, as it is here used, with a sense of theological innocence.…I suspect that we Christians today have the duty to criticize the entire concept of obedience and that this criticism must be radical, simply because we do not know exactly who God is and what God, at any given moment, wills.

Obedience to state and God conflated: the ceremonial introduction of Reich Bishop Ludwig Müller in the Cathedral of Berlin, 1934. Wikimedia Commons.

Soelle warns that “obedience operates in the barbaric ethos of fascism, but also in that of technocracy as well.” She feels that the errors of religious obedience need to be replaced by mysticism wherein

our relationship to God is not one of obedience but of union.…of being at one with what is alive. This then becomes what religion is about. When this happens, solidarity will replace obedience as the dominant virtue.

Solidarity is what the first chakra is all about: Being solidly connected to the solid earth and the earth’s home which is the universe and being in solidarity with all the sounds of the universe and its yearnings for life. “To be in solidarity with,” requires that we are listening with and to one another.  Obedience may prove to be a far greater evil than disobedience.

Selfishness would seem to be a shutting ourselves off from the cries of others, the suffering of others.  Surely it is related to shutting oneself off from one’s own pain and suffering as well, because we do, as has been said, “love others as we love ourselves.”  If we are sitting on our suffering — as an addictive consumer society teaches us to do — we are also muffling the suffering of others.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 200f.

See also, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation by Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox.

Banner Image: A mining engineer listens for signs of life; such listening is an act of solidarity with vulnerable coworkers. The contraption is affixed against his sacrum, his root chakra, and it looks like an animal’s tail. From the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, via Wikimedia Commons.

For the transcript of Matthew’s video teaching, click HERE.

Queries for Contemplation

Does our consumer culture encourage addiction and thereby interfere with solidarity, caring, and the building of community?  What are we doing about it?

Recommended Reading

Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation

Authors Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox encourage us to use our talents in service of compassion and justice and to move beyond our broken systems–economic, political, educational, and religious–discovering a spirituality that not only helps us to get along, but also encourages us to reevaluate our traditions, transforming them and in the process building a more sacred and just world. Incorporating the words of young activist leaders culled from interviews and surveys, the book provides a framework that is deliberately interfaith and speaks to our profound yearning for a life with spiritual purpose and for a better world.
Occupy Spirituality is a powerful, inspiring, and vital call to embodied awareness and enlightened actions.”
~~ Julia Butterfly Hill, environmental activist and author of The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods

Upcoming Events

“Wisdom, Grace, Love” – a 3-part online lecture series by Caroline Myss, Andrew Harvey, and Matthew Fox, September 8, 15, and 22, 3:00-4:30 pm Pacific (GMT/UTC-7). Learn more HERE.

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6 thoughts on “Beyond Selfishness to Listening & Solidarity”

  1. Avatar

    In today’s DM, the words of Soelle, “The errors of religious obedience need to be replaced by mysticism… wherein our relationship to God is not one of obedience, but rather one of being in union with Oneness”, speaks to me. When one defines obedience as listening and responding to God through relationship and the union and oneness of this reality, then one truly begins to awaken to this mystical pathway.

    This mystical pathway brings us into solidarity with the great cloud of witnesses whom have walked in this way before us… which unfortunately in the past and even in today’s time was deemed heretical. And yet despite the oppression and suppression of this, the mystical path and it’s often hidden spiritual practices and the knowledge and wisdom of these ancient traditions has withstood the test of time… mainly through going underground.

    There is a resurgence of these mystical pathways breaking ground, during the dramatic times we are living in today… and the seeds of all of this is awakening and resurrecting within our collective souls, the remembrance of things once forgotten, awaiting to be reclaimed. There is a mystic within each one of us all, and there is a Godly meaning and purpose in all that is unfolding in our current times… a co-creative yearning, labouring and birthing forth of new life.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, and just to add to what you’ve said–I believe that Matthew is one of the main people in the world responsible for making the mystical path know to people, and continually held up as an alternative to patriarchal, and obedience dominated religion–and he has modeled with his life the way of the mystic-prophet for our time.

  2. Avatar

    Hi! You’re really spiritually challenging us today (like always)! It helps to have some background in Jungian psychology, Eastern spirituality, and quantum physics. I’m in the process of reading your latest book – “Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh” – and I’m enjoying it!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Damian, Matthew is a great synthesizer of spirituality as witnessed in his book, ONE RIVER, MANY WELLS; Eastern spirituality as witnessed in his books: THE LOTUS AND THE ROSE and NAMIING THE UNNAMABLE, and science and physics in NATURAL GRACE and THE PHYSICS OF ANGELS. I know it can sometimes be a bit challenging, but stay with Matthew and he will guide you into a true form of spirituality that really works for our time…

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