Webb Telescope: Chasing Light, Chasing the Truth of Our Origins

The first of the archetypes of the Sacred Masculine is that of Father Sky. 

The James Webb Space Telescope official mission trailer: “The story of us is a never-ending quest for knowledge.” Video by NASA.

Thanks to the unique infrared Webb telescope, we are on the verge of looking into Father Sky back to the very earliest formations of galaxies, stars and planets.

The quest has been called by its makers, “a high-stakes quest to behold light from the first stars and galaxies and scour the universe for hints of life.”  This is humanity at its best—cooperating in being true to our nature of curiosity and wonder, intelligence and bravery, and eagerness to know our ancestors. 

And chasing after light.  Always light.  As we have meditated on earlier, Light is the nearest name for God humans seem to have and it is invoked universally.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Image by John Dillon on Flickr.

The original Christmas was busy chasing a light too—the magi were following a star that would lead them to a special place.  A place where a very poor and insignificant “king” would lay in a manger.

To chase a star this Christmas, humanity spent $10 billion to launch an  infrared observatory to succeed the aging Hubble space telescope. It needs to advance one million miles away from the Earth (four times beyond the moon) where gravity can hold it just right and keep it cold.  It will take a month to get there and four more months of preparation before it is up and running.  Unlike the Hubble Telescope, it is too far away to be corrected if glitches occur. 

The telescope is 100 times more powerful than Hubble and its launch from French Guiana was called “flawless.”  So far, so good. 

Hubble went back 13.4 billion years ago; Webb will extend back to 13.8 billion years ago, very near the origin of the universe.


See Matthew Fox, on the role of cosmology in healing humanity, see Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, revised edition, pp. 11f., 21-23, 48f., 60, 111f., 212f., 272. 

And Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. 

And Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, chapter 3, “Light,” pp. 40-62.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: An artist’s rendition of the James Webb Space Telescope with its sunshield deployed. Image by NASA.

Queries for Contemplation

What awe and excitement and synchronicity are you feeling about the launching of Webb on Christmas day and its potential to render our species wiser, maybe even moving beyond our extinction?

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.

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

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12 thoughts on “Webb Telescope: Chasing Light, Chasing the Truth of Our Origins”

  1. Avatar

    -just a quick note to say thank you for your willingness to share your time, energy, and expertise as daily meditations! They are such a positive and thought provoking way to start the day. Happy New Year!! -Mary O’Dell

  2. Avatar

    Thank you Mathew for expanding my perception and my understanding with regards to the WEBB launch, through what you spoke of in today’s DM. Hearing your words today, helped me to see the beauty yet to be seen and possibly discovered regarding LIGHT. However, I still long that all countries and nations would prioritize and choose to invest and pool there financial resources, knowledge and wisdom together to address all of our immediate concerns happening here on Earth now. I do believe that we would be awed and filled with wonder at the beauty of this light too, which will awaken us all to the possibilities to be discovered within this sacred union of conscious, intentional, evolutionary, co-creativity.

  3. Avatar

    I appreciate Patrick’s analogy in the comments yesterday to the priceless jar of nard. It’s an apt comparison. I look at the launch of the JWST and all of NASA’s space exploration projects like this. Venturing forth, we enter the darkness and apparent emptiness (though not actual emptiness) of space. (The Via Negativa) The ingenuity and talent of NASA’s scientists work to increase our understanding of the universe. (The Via Creativa) As we see the vastness and beauty of creation, our sense of awe increases. As the Psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth God’s handiwork.” (The Via Positiva) And as we experience all of this, we are transformed. As Matthew says, there are more astronaut mystics than Christian mystics. (The Via Transformativa) And there is more. There is a need, particularly among men I’m afraid, to use their creative abilities in the pursuit of and exhibition of power; and too often this drive is directed toward the invention of more and more destructive weaponry. (Think toxic masculinity.) Space exploration allows men to focus creative (sometimes power-driven) desires on something positive rather than destructive. This alone, in my mind, is sufficient reason to spend billions of dollars on space exploration. They are going to build big, powerful things. Let it be for the good. Let them build them in cooperation with people from other lands in the pursuit of wisdom and understanding of the universe in which we live instead of on war-making.

    1. Avatar

      Michelle, thanks for your interesting and thought provoking comment. That is part of what I enjoy about not only these DMs, but also the comments, it causes one to be expanded, to see something from multiple perspectives, rather just ones own.

  4. Avatar

    I am so grateful for Matt’s teaching on the importance and value of the Webb Telescope and how it shows the wonder, beauty and awe of the Universe. I can’t wait to learn the wisdom it will share. At the same time, I take to heart the via negativa of Gil Scott-Herons lyrics in “Whitey on the Moon”,
    “A rat done bit my sister Nell,
    (with Whitey on the moon)
    Her face and arms began to swell,
    (and Whitey’s on the moon)
    I can’t pay no doctor bill
    No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
    (but Whitey’s on the moon)
    Taxes takin’ my whole damn check,
    The price of food is goin’ up,
    An’ as if all that shit wasn’t enough
    A rat done bit my sister Nell.
    (with Whitey on the moon).”
    etc.
    Love and hope to everyone as 2022 begins, Kristal Parks

    1. Avatar

      Powerful poem Kristel and worth taking to heart. The thing is, we don’t need to choose between NASA and human needs; we need to choose between war-making and human needs. NASA’s lifetime cost of the JWST will be about $10.8 billion over 24 years. The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, which came into service in July 2017 and has been bedeviled with a number of technical headaches, came in at a cost of $13.3 billion. That’s aircraft carrier. And then there is this from https://www.planetary.org/articles/cost-of-the-jwst.
      Talk about increasing our sense of awe!

      “Most scientists believe this investment will be worth it. For comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope also suffered years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns, but it is arguably the most successful space science project of all time. As of 2021, the program had produced over 18,000 peer-reviewed publications that had been cited more than a million times in the scientific literature. It literally revealed new perspectives on the cosmos and is one of a handful of scientific projects to become a household name. Few (if any) people now wish that the Hubble had been canceled during its troubled development period. The James Webb Space Telescope, with its ability to peer further into space and time than the Hubble, is expected to provide similar rewards to our scientific knowledge.”

  5. Avatar

    The Space Station has been one of the few places around the world where people from adversarial countries can meet on neutral ground and share their efforts and expertise in mutually beneficial endeavors. The Webb telescope was also developed through cooperation with several countries. Thousands of people around the world joined together in its making. The space program’s existence is an ambassador of peaceful mutual cooperation and a shared love of knowledge that reaches across boundaries of national tribalism. Scientists share their awe and curiosity without borders defining their vision. It’s a reminder that we are humans first, and nationalities a distant second.

  6. Avatar
    Barbara McGurran

    It’s good to remember that a number of women scientists were involved in the Webb telescope project. If all the military budgets of all the countries in the world were put together there would be ample resources to support both supplying needs of our brothers and sisters here and the space explorations to understand our origins.

  7. Richard Reich

    l would just like to thank you Matthew, for sharig your perspective on such a wide variety of topics, while still relating them to Creaion Spirituality. Yesterday, while talking with a scientist friend l said, “The earth has been here 4.5 billion years. ln about another 4.5 billion years the sun will be just half a billion years from becoming a red giant. When that happens the earth and everything on it will be wiped away. What hat mans is that scientists have afew billion years to develop our space program to the point that it can get our descendants the hell out of here !!!

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