Finding the Sacred, Facing Hatred: The Buffalo Racial Massacre 

We have been meditating on “The Sacred Earth” book by photographer Courtney Milne and his last project called “The Pool of Possibilities.” There he found—and photographed–the Sacred in his own backyard urging us to find the Sacred in the everyday as well. 

Celebrating the everyday sacred: “Our beautiful backyard tree” by DM subscriber William Lange. Published with permission.

It is a good meditation and practice to take in more of the Sacred on a daily basis.  And it is necessary if one is to face evil forces.  One must come prepared for that encounter and nothing prepares a person to face Evil more surely than to drink deeply of the Sacred. 

Forces of hatred and racism, violence and killing of innocents, came to a head of course in a vivid way in Buffalo this weekend.

I wrote a letter of support to a friend who was born and has lived in Buffalo his entire life and in response he wrote this to me yesterday: 

ABC news reported that this is the 198th mass shooting in the U.S. in 2022.  Sadly, not surprising – and with each one we hope for further firearm safety measures!  What will it take?

The Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue in the Cold Spring section of Buffalo, New York. Photo by Andre Carrotflower on Wikimedia Commons.

Where does an 18-year-old boy (another one—remember the killings and wounding in Racine?) drink in so much hatred that he chooses to drive 200 miles to a neighborhood that is heavily black in order to kill black people while they are grocery shopping, using military weapons that are designed for just one purpose, killing other human beings?

One might say it is “in the air,” this hating and racial resentment and violence.  It is on the airwaves for sure and has been for decades.  Adults get rich selling it.  The media and the social media spread it like an intellectual virus.  Hate radio from Rush Limbaugh paved the way and spawned countless clones and Rupert Murdoch followed suit with hate television. 

Murdoch, himself an immigrant, gets richer and richer by bolstering those on his Fox network that preach hatred against immigrants and people of color.  

MSNBC’s Ari Melber discusses the Buffalo mass shooting and how “Replacement Theory” contributes to such incidents of violence.

On Murdoch’s network, Tucker Carlson has been preaching the “replacement theory” that fueled the young Buffalo gunman’s racial derangement and who actually gives him credit in his very sick “manifesto.” 

Have Carlson or Murdoch apologized or repented?

The political airwaves are alive with hatred.  An historical “mainstreaming” of white supremacist ideas is filling both social media and public media, becoming ordinary fodder for gubernatorial candidates and other politicians lying about voting results and eager to make voter suppression mainstream.  

To be continued

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

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

Banner Image: Nearly 60 years later, still a dream: Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the Aug. 28, 1963, march on Washington, D.C. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Queries for Contemplation

Do you recognize the relationship between Evil and the Sacred?  Do you prepare yourself to confront the former by filling up on the latter?  How do you do that?

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24 thoughts on “Finding the Sacred, Facing Hatred: The Buffalo Racial Massacre ”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Thank you for our Queries for Contemplation today. They are truly thought provoking for me. First, you ask us: “Do you recognize the relationship between Evil and the Sacred?”
    Yes, and according to biblical tradition, the human race has known the difference since the Garden of Eden, and the Fall–for the Serpent said in affect that, “in that day you eat of the fruit of this tree you shall be like God knowing good and evil.” Now, I don’t believe in the Eden story in a literal sense, nor in an “Original Sin,” but I do believe that this is the primary story of the Jewish people concerning the origin of evil. The Greek “hagios” translated as holy or sacred literally means something or someone who is set apart for a holy purpose.
    “Do you prepare yourself to confront the former by filling up on the latter? How do you do that?” I do prepare myself for confronting evil and I do it by first having an intentional and regular devotional life, where I spend much time doing Lectio Divina, writing and painting. These things fortify my spirit so that I have the spiritual strength to stand up against those who oppose what I feel to be true…

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    Johanna Blows
    Thank you for creating a space for us to reflect and interact on mankind’s mystical traditions, Christian and other.

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    In an incarnational sense all created things are an extension (a co-extension) of the body of Christ spread out over the entirety of creation. Mystics and artists have an acute and abiding awareness of same, as do others who practice the spiritual disciplines. Time and again, meditative teachers remind us of same. This is particularly so of those who underscore the need for greater inclusion of the divine feminine, sorely minimized and greatly underrepresented in the whole making process. Truth be told, when was the last time (even first time) a woman committed mass murder? And note, women don’t start wars. As a gender, with very few exceptions, brutality is anathema to them. They are the creators, guardians and caretakers of life. Men, however, with few exceptions, seem to have a constitutional urge to exist proudly and selfishly, and to habitually act with great force, power, sadism, and violence. It is an interesting fact that in the pre-Abrahamic (pre-patriarchal) religions, all the deities were women. Perhaps what is at stake for the modern day, mostly white and male replacement theory advocates is losing toxic control of the status quo along masculine lines dating back to Abrahamic times, when in the eyes of many, God first became defined as male, angry, punitive, judgmental, tribal, exclusive, vindictive, conquering and warlike. And to boot, ministering a bevy of purity code agendas.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Joe, Thank you for your comment! And thank you especially for mentioning the facts that: “when was the last time (even first time) a woman committed mass murder? And note, women don’t start wars. As a gender, with very few exceptions, brutality is anathema to them. They are the creators, guardians and caretakers of life.” That is something we really need to consider in our estimate of women and as an example to men!

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      Great perspective. Women, for several decades, have studied the pre-patriarchal goddess focus, but many men, becoming aware of this interest, have sought to discredit it—such as male academics invested in their own theories.
      A few years ago I read of a nation in Africa populated by two rival groups, as in this country there has always been tension between white men and black men. The African men on either side started and engaged in a savage civil war—dismembering children and women and burning crops, etc. The women and children were, naturally, terrorized and spent most of the course of this war trying to hide from all soldiers, including those of their own tribe since it seems that men fevered with the brutality of killing don’t get a whole lot nicer when they’re home than when they’re on the field.
      The women grieved, and waited.
      After most of the men had killed themselves and each other, they came together, tribes forgotten, united their country, formed a government based on healing, teaching, nurturing food gardens, etc. A “department” of their government formed child care operations so that women could tend gardens and do whatever organizational work they needed done.
      They did NOT form a military.
      They dug wells, grew food, assigned heavy tasks to surviving men, and had very little trouble.
      I’m assuming that, focused on this work, they confronted evil.

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    Damian Maureira

    Our genuine mystical spiritual traditions found in all our major religions and in the lives of our past and present mystics, saints, and the good compassionate lives of many human beings, especially innocent children and loving women/mothers, teach and inspire us to not only have faith, but to experience the sacredness of God’s Living Loving Presence within and among us. On our eternal souls’ spiritual journeys, I feel like many who also believe in reincarnation and the spiritual afterlife, that our souls continue to heal/purify and deepen our compassionate awareness/consciousness of our transformation into Being~Becoming the Diverse Loving Oneness of our Creator~Loving Source…. As limited human beings with the spiritual challenges of this earthly dimension, our souls~spirits are still very special eternally evolving children of God’s Creation with consciousness and free will to be compassionate co-Creators with-in God’s ongoing Creation~Evolution in our multiverse Cosmos… We are truly Sacred and created in the Image and Likeness of our Loving~Compassionate God….

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      Damian Maureira

      1) Michael Newton, Ph.D., : “Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives” (1994).
      “ Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Lives” (2000).
      2) Robert Schwartz: “Your Soul’s Gift: The Healing Power of the Life You Planned Before You
      We’re Born” (2012).

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    The “American Dream” in all its falsehood has increasingly brought about the American Holocaust. In “tRumpism” and all its evil permutations the “beast” has been released. “Replacement” yes, dreams with nightmares. And the evil dweeb chuckles as God weeps.

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    Jeanette Metler

    Racism, with its many theories… is the fear and failure of imagination… that creative power to image the world unified… through accepting, acknowledging and responding to the beauty of diversity… which the “Other” embodies. Racism in its fear-filled state and condition… has traded the experiential reality of the Divine, inherent within the all and the everything of creation… for the fanatical illusion of control… rooted in the deceptive delusion of superior domination, expressed violently.

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    I have been wrestling with what happened in Buffalo and trying to make sense of it as I always do with such stunning acts of violence that tear the human psyche apart daily. Of course, there is no way for it to make sense; no way for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to make sense; no way for conservative justifications of it all to make sense. So the kernel of angst that lives now deep inside comes from the recognition that I can do nothing but recharge as I watch the explosion of a seed into vibrant life in the garden and extend the love in that hopeful act of the seed to my relationships with those around me. Otherwise, I can do nothing. My soul’s edges are frayed.

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      Dear Carolyn,
      Thoughts have Energy. You CAN “do something”, even though sometimes it may not feel like much. Sending Light and Peace out to the Cosmos can help. I really believe it. It is “the hundredth monkey” that eventually (hopefully) causes a tipping point. Even if that doesn’t happen in our lifetimes, working toward it is better than the alternative–despair. I refuse to give up, no matter how grim things seem. There are always many good people. They just don’t talk about them on Fox News!

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        I agree. Unfortunately, what used to be the fringes have now taken center stage, but it really is a case of the sound and the fury signifying nothing that drowns out the presence of the majority of people who really would like to do the right thing but who are increasingly intimidated and frightened into silent complicity. We can still pray and contemplate and engage in peaceful activism and efforts to illustrate the truth of what is going on.

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      I hear you, Carol Lynn. Your statement “My soul’s edges are frayed” is an excellent description of how many of us feel. You are doing the right thing. You are taking care of yourself. I am doing the same thing, as I have felt the same way for some time. I have a close friend who has spent her entire life working for an end to war, gun violence, and the arms industry. Unfortunately, she does not have a spiritual path, primarily because she was excommunicated by her early path as a Jehovah’s Witness. Indeed, she now resists any form of religion. So now she is lost and in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Without somewhere else to turn, she’s truly falling apart. Perhaps she will open up. She has agreed next Monday to watch Matthew’s hour-long introduction to his new class “Sacred Earth, Sacred Self” with me. (I watched it yesterday.) Perhaps this will be the beginning of an understanding that her soul’s edges are frayed and that there may be healing for her in the realm of the spirit.

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    Jeanette Metler

    I find myself thinking about Tucker Carlson. No soul comes into this world, being born of racism. In his manifesto, this young man state’s that he was taught… that he learnt this from other human beings. This young man, I believe was not consciously aware of the Original Blessing, that was his inheritance to claim for himself… because no one taught it to him, so that he could learn and experience this inherent goodness… there inside of himself… that needed to be nurtured, cared for, tended to and cultivated from within himself. And for this, my heart weeps for not only his soul… but for all the newly born and youthful souls in our midst.

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    Susan alice mufson

    I was dismayed to find the quotes elevating humans above other species (what I have come to call “ human supremacy”) from someone I otherwise deeply admire. Isn’t this the antithesis of creation spirituality?

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Susan, Thank you for your comment. You say that you were dismayed by the quotes that elevate humans above other species. I think you may be referring to where Matthew quoted Eckhart as saying that it is sublime to become human. Whereas I agree with you perhaps in Eckhart’s wording, I can assure you that Matthew himself is not like this. In many of the the things he has written, whenever he mentions humans, he refers to them as two-leggeds and includes four leggeds, the winged ones, the finned ones and all of the creatures of the earth as being of one family. That’s one of the things I really like about him. But then he has written more that 30 books, so you won’t get his way of looking at creatures of the earth from one meditation, you need to read his books.

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    It is essential to fill oneself up with the sacred, with gratitude and appreciation of all things good, and true, and beautiful, to be able to keep going against the rising tide of hatred and oppression. It is always a minority view to begin with, but what alarms me is the normalization in this country of every kind of bigotry and hatred, as Matthew points out. And yet, there are also such outpourings of shared grief and offerings of assistance every time one of these horrible events happens. A local Jewish Chabad center was destroyed by fire a few weekends ago here, and others have been attacked in the past so it was probably arson, but the larger community responded with love and offers to help. It takes real effort and daily spiritual practices to focus on the sacred and ways that we can nurture one another and combat the dark forces in practical and effective and peaceful ways. I have never in my lifetime seen such danger to human rights, especially here in the state of Florida and across the nation and the world. I pray that enough people wake up and take peaceful action. Otherwise, I fear that there will be mass and bloody uprisings.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, Your prayer is my prayer too: “I pray that enough people wake up and take peaceful action.” Thank you for this!

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    This is a valuable subject for me. I have come from a work life of strict logic where, though you may recognize evil, your method of confronting it is with reason and law, where there is little consideration (other than its usefulness as a jury appeal) for the sacred.
    I’ve been retired for a long time and since 2016 I’ve been unable to see any satisfaction in tradition or law in addressing the almost constant assault of evil.
    So I stumbled on Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme and Matthew Fox and The Order of the Sacred Earth which I now study in an effort to attain a mental and spiritual balance between Evil and Sacred.
    Thanks for this and the continuation of this subject!

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      One of my disillusionments in these past several years has been to see how laws are flouted openly, without consequence, and that was brought home by the former president’s complete lack of respect for the law.

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        Sue, I recently realized that I have been waiting for five years for the former president to face the consequences of his actions and his flouting of the law and the Constitution. A couple of weeks ago, I decided not to wait anymore. Like the mob boss he is, he evades every consequence. There are those in Congress and courts who keep trying to make him do so. Good for them. But I have to stop waiting and move on. It’s the only way I can stay sane and focus my energies on more positive goals.

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