Why is it important to be talking about more names for divinity at this time in history? It is a sign of our times that many people are giving up on institutional religion in favor of spirituality. They are playing out Meister Eckhart’s prayer, “I pray God to rid me of God.”
The God of organized religion and of empires is tired. Religious organizations can become so mired in the past—dead philosophies, dead ideologies, dead patriarchal world views, dead imperial ambitions, dead liturgies, and the rest—that they no longer speak to the deep spiritual needs people are feeling.
Recently I was invited to interact with people in Italy on the occasion of the translation into Italian of my book on Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God. In Italian it is called: Gli 89 Splendiddi Nomi di Dio, The 89 Splendid Names of God. The event was lively and full of meaningful questions. The Preface to the book begins this way:
The ancient Vedas of India tell us that “The One Existence the wise call by many names.”
How many names for Divinity are there? Do the names for God change? Ought they change as humans evolve and as circumstances of life evolve around us? Are we among the “wise” that the Vedas speak of who are eager to call the One Existence by many names? Do we have permission—and maybe a serious responsibility—to change our understanding and naming of God as we mature as individuals and as we evolve as a species and as we face a critical time, a “turning time,” in human and planetary history?
Adapted from Matthew Fox,Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God, pp. xiiif.
Also see Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: 18th-century statues of Buddhist deities at a temple in Japan. Photo by Hal Yamagucci on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
How many names for God do you entertain? Which ones work the best for you today? Which ones do not work for you so you are letting them go?
Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God
Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.
“This book is timely, important and admirably brief; it is also open ended—there are always more names to come, and none can exhaust God’s nature.” -Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of Science Set Free and The Presence of the Past
One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths
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.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit