We are meditating on empires and colonialism and religions’ complicity in both. 

Between the 15th and 19th centuries, the Senegalese island of Goree was a holding center for millions of enslaved people and a departure point for slave ships to the New World. UNESCO

Englanders sometimes raise the story that some Africans themselves were in league with the slave trade as they captured their own peoples, locked them in cages, and took much booty from the Westerners coming to steal Africans to bolster their imperial ambitions.

Of course there is the tragic story of American slavery that is still with us in so many ways, and the trauma inherited by the descendants of slaves.  And the conquering of the Indigenous peoples, often in the name of religion, which has fed its own series of traumas to this day.

Plenty of sins to go around.  Plenty of wounds and trauma and evil unleashed.  No one tribe is without sin.  Humanity is capable of plenty of evil wherever one lives.

Humans cannot live without myths.  Psychologist Rollo May points out that myths are basic to societal ethics and morality.  That is part of the story of the “tamed” monarchy of England that I touched on recently. 

“What Is The Great Reset?” – the World Economic Forum works to reshape the global economic mythos after the COVID pandemic.

We are living between times, myths are in flux, the marriage of religion and empires is dying and deconstructing. And religions themselves are on the decline in Western culture.  And that explains, I think, some of the confusion and chaos, bitterness, grief and anger of our times. 

There are no easy answers, but one recognition that may help to contextualize issues today is this: An Age of Reckoning does not have to be an Age of Anger.  It can also be an age of recognition, of understanding both the sins of our fathers and the possibilities of a species struggling for its survival as these sins come home to roost. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year is a stark reminder of the kind of power and havoc that empires and wannabe empires (including the dreams of the 3rd Reich to rule for “1000 years”) wreak on humanity.  

Environmental professor Dr. Annapurna Singh lists the ecological impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Our “Age of Reckoning” extends beyond the era of empire-making to that of Ecocide and the afflictions humans commit against Mother Earth.  That Reckoning is occurring as we witness the droughts and heat, floods and hurricanes, seas rising and creatures going extinct that have resulted from human imperial attitudes toward Mother Earth.  

One yearns to see the “kingdoms” of this world yield to that promised kingdom where justice and compassion and community would be the norm.  That  “shared meaning,” might provide the “right glue” for societal and earth survival (using David Bohm’s language from yesterday’s video).

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.

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

Banner Image: Falling Leaves. Photo by Benjamin DeYoung on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Can you see a promise of justice and compassion as a provider of “shared meaning” that can buttress society and humanity’s relation to Mother Earth?  How do we get there from here?

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15 thoughts on “Our Age of Reckoning, continued”

  1. Avatar

    I am pessimistic about our ability to change our relationship with Mother Earth. We are an increasingly divided country politically and it will take the cooperation everyone including the wealthy and the wealthy cooperations to find a new shared economic way of the future.. Very unlikely.

  2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you begin by reminding us that we are meditating on empires and colonialism–and religions’ complicity in both. Behind this was the recent death of Queen Elizabeth of England. You tell us that “we are living between times, myths are in flux, the marriage of religion and empires is dying and deconstructing.” You tell us that “There are no easy answers, but one recognition that may help to contextualize issues today is this: An Age of Reckoning does not have to be an Age of Anger.” And now, our “’Age of Reckoning’ extends beyond the era of empire-making to that of Ecocide and the afflictions humans commit against Mother Earth.” So you ask:
    “Can you see a promise of justice and compassion that can buttress society and humanity’s relation to Mother Earth?” I can, because their are so many voices like your writings, your “Order of the Sacred Earth,” and other more secular groups like Greenpeace. I still believe we have reason to hope for a better tomorrow where we will live more in harmony with the Earth.

  3. Avatar

    ‘Oh to be in England Now!’

    Our Matriarch and Servant- Queen is dead
    A banner of a rainbow filled the skies of Scotland..
    (some would say a ‘cosmic announcement’)

    Grief rolls into a Nation like an Autumn mist,
    bringing its balm….
    creating unity amongst those who care,
    those whose tongues lay still:
    those whose thoughts become private:
    those whose hearts are opened.
    Memories are made of this.

    In our Remembrance:
    to remember the creation of the Queen’s canopy…
    (her vision of healing the Earth by planting trees)
    And to remember her multiple acts of loving kindness shown to people in sorrow.
    Whatever is said be sure that she loved us .

  4. Avatar

    Matthew writes, “An Age of Reckoning does not have to be an Age of Anger.” Let’s not fault people for being bitter and angry who are the victims of empire. Anger can be a positive motivator. But more importantly, it is not ours to set such standards for others, but rather to listen and learn.

  5. Avatar

    Can I see a promise…. of justice and compassion… as a provision of shared meaning and relationship with the earth and humanity? I see this, through the eyes of my heart, in the depths and desires of my longing, thirsting soul, in my willingness to surrender to the wisdom ways of the Cosmic Mother, in TRUST. This unfolds in my choosing to acknowledge and respond to Her essence, presence, comfort, consolation and wise counsel offered me, from within. Intuitively I follow Her promptings, leadings, guidance, Her many provisions in the daily round of the holy ground of my life; and as I engage with these sensed impulses within, I find myself evolving into a shared meaning of co-creative relationship with… with the different aspects of my humanity and my divinity and my soul connections with the living Spirit of the Cosmic Mother within myself, others, the Earth and the all and the everything of creation. Emerging out the dark chaos, and the kenosis of letting go of the deep soul wounds of all the pain inflicted in fear… there is the promise, the potential of much needed healing, through the awakening of compassion, mercy and conscious unconditional love… being broken open into givenness.

  6. Avatar

    I agree with you Michael that humanity is going through very tumultuous and stressful times for the reasons you wisely summarized in your DM, “Our Age of Reckoning”. I also agree that the greatest and most existential present day of reckoning is our climate/environmental crisis with the destruction of Mother Earth and Her living blessings/resources of All Life, the ongoing extinction of thousands of species, and the possible extinction of our own human species. Our world industrial civilization is definitely ending. Personally I only became more consciously aware of these harsh realities about three months ago and I have been going through various stages of grief ever since. What has helped me work through my own stages of shock, disbelief, anger, and sadness is reading how various thoughtful and sensitive environmentalists, scientists, and social thinkers are feeing and coping with this harsh existential reality that humanity is facing (although most people are still not aware of it or in denial), especially in Conversations/interviews in Michael Dowd’s website (postdoom.com). Last night I watched a documentary (2hrs.)that can help courageous truth seekers work through their denial — “What A Way to Go: the End of the Empire” (2007), on YouTube. God bless us all in our small faith communities with Sacred Mother Nature….

    1. Avatar

      I recently (Sept.15) attended a Webinar by Matthew on “The Coming of Cosmic Christ” sponsored by The Prairie Retreat. It was very helpful to me in understanding better the paradox of Compassion and Suffering in our Beloved Cosmic Christ….

  7. Avatar

    White European imperialism, industrialism, and capitalist exploitation, has had mixed effects on the people of the world. It has generated a comfortable bourgeoisie in the first world and higher standards of living in the second world. But Third World countries and indigenous peoples have been exploited and suppressed everywhere. Moreover, Gaia is being brought to her knees by the disease of humanity. As the figurehead of this imperial social structure Queen Elizabeth must bear some responsibility for the evils it has produced.
    But on another level, this queen deserves respect for the deep sense of responsibility she brought to the role. She willingly submitted her personal identity to the public position. Even given the privileges of wealth and power it brought, her willingness to fulfill the role with such conscience, shows deep respect for the position. She was born into the role. She didn’t clamor after it and she didn’t flaunt it as a means to personal ego fulfillment, like many other royals before her. While there are many worse fates, she accepted her’s with dignity and humility. We would all do well to live up to that model.

  8. Avatar

    Justice and compassion can provide a shared meaning to repair our brokenness, especially our damaging relationship to Mother Earth. There are many groups working to stop or reverse the deadly effects of climate change–sadly, too many of these are “secular” and churches in general are not in the forefront of this movement. Divestment from the fossil fuel industry, including the banks and insurance companies that support them, is a very effective tool that is not being used except by individuals and individual churches. We need to acknowledge always that greed has no desire for justice and compassion. The reckoning for greed is death. If enough of us don’t wake up , it will be the final reckoning. All we can do is whatever is possible in our own lives and associations–one thing is to work for politicians whose record shows some devotion to truth and eco-justice. Another is to support Greenpeace and Sierra Club and other organizations that are working in every venue to protect Mother Earth. And to support Matthew’s work.

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