We continue our meditation with Italian psychologist and philosopher Vito Mancuso.  In his Introduction to the Italian translation of Original Blessing, he compares myself and Giordano Bruno, who was also a Dominican and was hauled into the inquisition and burned at the stake for daring to bring the teachings of Copernicus into his theology.

The trial of Giordano Bruno by the Roman Inquisition. Bronze relief by Ettore Ferrari (1845-1929), Campo de’ Fiori, Rome. Wikimedia Commons.

Mancuso quotes Bruno on the immanence of God in nature: 

The universal intelligence is that selfsame force which replenishes all, illuminates the universe, directs nature and produces all its forms.  It is that which impregnates matter with all its forms; and according to reason and the condition of each, it figures, forms, and interweaves nature with all orders of marvels, those which we cannot attribute either to chance or to another principle that does not know how create order and make distinctions. 

Bruno writes that this divine principle of order comes calling in various forms of the old philosophies and concludes: 

“Branches” 1) Counterclockwise from top left: “Forest” by Allain Siddiqui on Unsplash. 2) Thin fungal hyphae in mycelium networks transmit chemical messages among trees: TheAlphaWolf [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons. 3) Tributaries of the Yarlung Tsangpo River, Tibet. Photo by NASA. 4) Illustration of bronchi and bronchioles; HouseOfMica.org.

To us it is called the ‘internal artificer’ because it forms matter from within, just as the stem comes forth from within the seed or root.  From within the branches are formed, and from within the leaves and flowers and fruit come forth.  From within it is formed, figured, and interwoven… the true efficient cause, not many expressions but one expression, all from natural things.

Mancuso continues:

Speaking of the immanence of God in nature, Matthew Fox translates the prologue of John’s Gospel, theologically the deepest passage in the New Testament, in this forceful way:

In the beginning was the Creative Energy:
The Creative Energy was with God
And the Creative Energy was God
It was with God in the beginning.
Through it all things came to be….

Artist’s view of night sky from a hypothetical planet within a young Milky Way-like galaxy 10 billion years ago, the sky are ablaze with star birth. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Z. Levay (STScI). Wikimedia Commons

The Creative Energy was made flesh,
It pitched its tent among us,
And we saw its glory,
The glory that belongs to the only Child of the Creator,
Full of grace and full of truth.

Mancuso quotes Bruno on spirituality as gratitude for life: 

In time, all gives and all receives.  Everything changes; nothing is annihilated.  Only one [that is, God] doesn’t change. Only one is eternal, and only one is able to persevere eternally, the one and the same—with this philosophy my spirit grows and my intellect is magnified.

And adds:

On the same theme, Fox writes: “The Universe itself, blessed and graced, is the proper starting point for spirituality.

See Matthew Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, p. 40 and In principio era la gioia, pp. xixf.  

See also Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality.

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

Banner Image: “Cold morning sunrise over Lake Michigan.” Photo by Todd Trapani on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Do you recognize the immanence of God in nature in John 1 and elsewhere in the Scriptures and beyond the Scriptures from your own experience?  What follows from that?

Recommended Reading

Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality
Selected with an Introduction by Charles Burack

To encapsulate the life and work of Matthew Fox would be a daunting task for any save his colleague Dr. Charles Burack, who had the full cooperation of his subject. Fox has devoted 50 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality and in doing so has reinvented forms of education and worship.  His more than 40 books, translated into 78 languages, are inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions and have awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West. Essential Writings begins by exploring the influences on Fox’s life and spirituality, then presents selections from all Fox’s major works in 10 sections.
“The critical insights, the creative connections, the centrality of Matthew Fox’s writings and teaching are second to none for the radical renewal of Christianity.” ~~ Richard Rohr, OFM.

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16 thoughts on “On Gratitude for the Immanence of God in Nature”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you continue on in our meditation no Vito Mancuso’s Introduction to the Italian translation of Original Blessing. In it he compares you and Giordano Bruno, who was also a Dominican and was hauled into the inquisition and burned at the stake for daring to bring the teachings of Copernicus into his theology. Then you show how Mancuso quotes Bruno on “the immanence of God in nature,” and again he compares you with Bruno in this regard for Mancuso later says: “[Also] Speaking of ‘the immanence of God in nature,’ Matthew Fox translates the prologue of John’s Gospel, theologically the deepest passage in the New Testament, in this forceful way.” And then he gives us your version of the first part of John 1. And so you ask us today: “Do you recognize the immanence of God in nature in John 1 and elsewhere in the Scriptures and beyond the Scriptures from your own experience?” Yes, of course. That is what attracted me to Creation Spirituality in the first place. Your follow up question is: “What follows from that?” My books, THE WAY OF THE EARTH and LITURGIES OF THE EARTH.

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    Dear Mathew, You are really “out there” in all you have been sharing and pointing out to us. I pray that you are protected and not thrown down a well like Jeremiah or persecuted like so many others, who spoke truth, then and now contrasting darkness and Light by pointing out egregious belief systems that are so contrary to our true Divine Nature, our True Self, that still linger like a cancer. These useless paradigms need to be dissolved, Now!! They have been contaminating our minds and sacred bodies and causing us collectively to disconnect from our Divine spirit, given to us by the Creator and that spark of Divinity within all of us. I am grateful for your part in consciousness raising for those of us who also are paying attention the Divine within, He/She always still within us like mycelium networks no matter how far we are distracted and deviate from truth, reality, Divine Presence.
    The daily practice of gratitude keeps us on track of what we all came here to learn about ourselves, our Creator, the Divine within all of us…One and the Same: “Gratefulness alters perception and shifts thought and emotion. When our minds are resonating with gratitude the gate is fully opened to the flow of prosperity.” “This is how we participate in the Ever Changing Paradigm.” quotes from: https://drdarrylpokea.com/gratefulness-and-prosperity/

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    My RECOGNITION of the immanence of God in nature, John 1 and elsewhere, and that of most others, preceded my EXPERIENCE of God in nature and elsewhere. Big difference in terms. The latter followed on the heels of a spiritual breakthrough (Eckhart’s terms) the result of undergoing a personal inventory of my own moral flaws, failures, and inadequacies, along with an assortment of character defects (egoisms) and the overall conviction of my sin nature. That is, true conviction and repentance over same was (is) the gateway from a sin-centric self to a cosmo-centric self, the path to one’s deep soul, and with-it entry into the realm of spiritual consciousness. Note the sequence, as childbirth follows pregnancy, true spiritual transformation (2nd birth) follows the conviction and repentance of one’s sin nature, and not before. Jesus laid that process out as his keynote word (repentance) in public ministry, defining what ails humanity and requires transcending re: Eckhart’s “breakthrough.” To deny the necessity of that redemptive process, per se, and as central to overcoming the false self and sin nature, is like a carpenter denying wood has grain, or comes from trees. In effect, it denies the heart of the gospel message and the authority of Christ himself, forsaking same for a cult of nature worship. The line between good and evil must be drawn WITHIN individuals, not BETWEEN compatible doctrines of the faith creating more schism.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Joe, Today you write: “To deny the necessity of that redemptive process, per se, and as central to overcoming the false self and sin nature, is like a carpenter denying wood has grain, or comes from trees. In effect, it denies the heart of the gospel message and the authority of Christ himself, forsaking same for a cult of nature worship.” Let me address two points here. First on the “redemptive process,” read ORIGINAL BLESSISNGS, Appendix B: “Fall/Redemption and the Creation-Centered Compared at a Glance.” Secondly, in Creation Spirituality we do not worship nature, though we do see nature as sacred–a divine gift for us to joyfully celebrate–and yes, Genesis 1 over Genesis 3.

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    Thank you for showing a perspective that is focussed on Grace rather than on sin. That sin focus is primarily on one type of sin (chastity), and on obedience to the hierarchy, which the majority of the hierarchy is stuck on. It denies humanity, and diversity, and it denies human growth and development.

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    It’s very interesting when you view the immanence of God, through an ecumenical perspective. What one notices is the striking commonalities, such as… The Divine encompasses and is manifested in both the physical natural world and the spiritual world, permeating both with a quality of rays of Light, creating the self-perfected state of all beings as nondual awareness. Through the incarnation of this Divine Light the Divine Trinity reveals itself in all of creation, which is filled with this essence and presence. This Divine Light is the source and means by which God is in and moves through all things, revealing the characteristics of the Divine nature, through God’s goodness. All of creation is incorporated into this Oneness of Divine Light. The physical world and the spiritual world are continuously being created, for within all creations there is a Divine spark of vitality that sustains all. This Divine Light fills all worlds with the essence and presence of creative power, that expresses God’s Divine nature. God contracted Godself’s infinite essence of Divine Light, to allow for a conceptual space in which a finite world could exist. Creation is continously taking place, fully within God. The Divine life-force which brings all creatures into existence, is constantly present within them; were this life-force to forsake any created being, for even one brief moment, it would revert to a state of utter nothingness, as the void before creation.

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    Inspiration & recommendation for Via Positiva.
    Standing ovation at the BBC Proms, England for the Chineke! Orchestra & Chorus with their interpretation of Beethoven’s Chorale Symphony where the final movement is entirely Chorale based on Schiller’s poem ‘Ode to Joy’. The chorus of 100 singers sang their hearts out!
    This orchestra was founded in 2015 by the double bass player Chi-Chi Nwanoku CBE to provide career opportunities for Black & ethnically diverse musicians in the UK & Europe. It is the only fully professional orchestra of its kind. (see website of Chineke! and Wikipedia for further info)
    Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ is a profound statement for the joys of fellowship, brotherhood, happiness of family life,
    the wonders of nature, and the universe with its eternal mystery of divine love.
    Hope this is useful

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jan Ellan, It sounds like you had a wonderful Via Positiva musical experience! However, next time try to comment on what Matthew actually shares with us in his meditations.

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        In my opinion, Richard, you have missed the depth of Jan’s shared comment as she has directly shared, not intellectually, but from the heart of the matter that music can only reverberate/resonate the Divine joyful experience. Less Intellectual understanding and more experiential, is to me her message to you, all of us biological males…equanimity!!! always including the feminine/reflection/ineffable nature of all being/Being. I personally am very grateful for her balanced sharing bringing to our attention more experiential understandings to balance the intellectual comments on Mathew’s page. Perhaps comments like hers, teach us all more through her gentle/yin/reflection in heart filled orchestrations of the Divine experientially. Perhaps…we all could learn from her gentle/heart-filled understanding/sharing of the music of the spheres throughout the Uni-Verse/Multi-Verse’s orchestrated expressions. I hope you don’t delete my comment.

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    Yes Matthew, I feel and have faith in the immanence/Presence of God’s Loving and Beautiful Spirit in Mother Nature, within and among us in our daily lives, and in All of God’s ongoing co-Creation~Evolution of our Cosmos… This is why I also feel that God grieves with us with the suffering of his children by injustices and the destruction/ecocide of Mother Nature and All Her living creatures, including possibly most of our own human species with our imminent environmental collapse as predicted by most environmental scientists and humanist societal thinkers (see postdoom.com)… With our faith in this immanence/Presence of God’s Spirit we are still moved in our hearts to continue living compassionately, justly, creatively, gratefully daily with one another in our small communities and with Mother Nature… Our eternal souls are still evolving, even through the current hardships of our lives on earth, with-in God’s Diverse Loving Oneness, Wisdom, and Merciful Transformative Living Powers….
    Blessings ?❤️??

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    Today’s meditation reminded me that I first learned about life and work of Hildegard from Matthew Fox more than forty years ago. I think about the song “Greening With Life – from the Earth to the Sky, loving all is the gift of peace… Also think of “United Religions Initiative” …
    Joyce Wilding-TSSF

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    Yes I recognize the immanence of God in scripture from the many beautiful passages in the psalms and elsewhere. Jesus made many reference to nature, including sheep and grain. But before that, as a child I experienced the awesomeness of nature as I spent as much time outside as possible–trees, grass, flowers, wild fruit of all kinds, birds, etc during the day and the moon and stars at night. They continue to nurture and inspire and heal me, as do others of God’s gifts and sacred presence.

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    In answer to the question, yes, to all of the above. John 1 references a specific, complex, intimately unitive mystical experience. That experience includes a “one with the universe” awareness. This same precise mystical revelation is also sacred within several religions. In other words, the potential for this complex experience is universal, built into all human souls/brains (“made in God’s image”). It’s a hidden gift, a beacon, a compass, a soul-healing, a most exquisite gem, waiting to be re-discovered and unwrapped. Of all the astonishing things I’ve learned while researching after my experience over the years, the fact that it unfolded into exactly the same unique, complex core revelation (same set and sequence of intuitions) as experienced by many other people, from other cultures and religions, never fails to elicit amazement. Its universality also inspires humility: no one person or one religion is the sole possessor of this revelation. The One flows and reveals within all of us, the universe, and infinitely beyond.

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    I just wanted to pass on my thanks to the team. I am a headteacher in the UK and in my beginning of school year assembly today I used material which Matthew has inspired me with – that it’s taken 13.8 billion years for the universe to create the teenagers who were listening to me, linked to the Webb telescope looking back in time. Thank you! Michael

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