Feminism, Ecology, Transcendence vs. Christofascism

Dorothee Soelle believes that feminist theology offers us another way of thinking of transcendence. 

Hildegard of Bingen, “Cultivating the Cosmic Tree,” Scivias.

Transcendence is no longer to be understood as being independent of everything and ruling over everything else, but rather as being bound up in the web of life.  

Here she is very much echoing Hildegard of Bingen from 800 years ago who talked about the “web of life” that binds all creatures together.    This would seem to be an apt consciousness for a time of ecological emergency.  Feminist consciousness and feminist theology are earth-saving therefore.

Being “bound up in the web of life” echoes what today’s science is  telling us, that all things and all systems are interdependent. This too is a teaching from pre-modern mystics.

A century from now, those who have been rabidly anti-feminist, like the previous pope, will have a lot of explaining to do.

Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty executive director Amanda Tyler talks about the role that Christian nationalism plays in extremist movements and events like January 6th. MSNBC

Soelle explains that such a consciousness “means that we move from God-above-us to God-within-us and overcome false transcendence hierarchically conceived.”  There is such a thing as false transcendence and we need to be on the lookout for it.  Religion readily falls into that trap which, as we saw yesterday, can exhibit Christolatry but can also manifest as Christofascism. 

Soelle named both for us and we owe her a debt of gratitude.  Christofascism is very real, very powerful and extremely well financed in our time.  The rushed and obscene canonization of fascist priest Jose Maria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, is just one frightening example of the rise of Christofascism in our time. 

Angry father god invoked in early days of the nation: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, A Sermon Preached at Enfield, July 8, 1741,” by Rev. Jonathan Edwards, catalyst for a surge of revivals 1730-1755. Wikimedia Commons.

So too is the marriage of large chunks of the American evangelical community with far-right wing politicians and the “normalizing” of such marriages within what was once the Republican party.  

And the rise of “Christian nationalism” and “white supremacy” groups is a logical next step.  So too the rise of anti-Semitism.  Institutional violence–which is Susan Sontag’s very definition of fascism–follows.

Racism is often part and parcel of fascism which is invariably buttressed by a religion of a punitive father God.  A father problem exists wherever fascism reigns.  No wonder feminism is an object of scorn and angst among such fevered believers.

Thomas Aquinas offered this powerful insight about tyrants when he said, “tyrants are more afraid of good people than of bad people.”  They often attract and even employ them.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations, p. 277.  

And Fox, The Pope’s War: How Ratzinger’s Crusade Imperiled the Church and What Can Be Saved, pp. 103-124.

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

Banner Image: “Take Your Broken Heart, Make It Into Art” – Women’s March 2018, Vancouver. Photo by Sally T. Buck on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you see Christofascism as a problem today?  Do you recognize authoritarianism and fascism as a father problem?   Do you see that tyrants are more afraid of good people than bad people?  Why do you think that is?


Recommended Reading

Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations

As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us in wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice.  This revolutionary book does just that.  Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations.  Study and practice these teachings.  Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth.

The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved

The Pope’s War offers a provocative look at three decades of corruption in the Catholic Church, focusing on Josef Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. The final section in the book focuses on birthing a truly catholic Christianity.
“This book should be read by everybody, not only for its ferocious courage, but also for its vision for what needs to be saved from the destructive forces that threaten authentic Christianity.” ~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope.
“In the gripping The Pope’s War, Matthew Fox takes an unwavering look at the layers of corruption in the Catholic Church, holding moral truth against power.”   — Jason Berry, author of Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II


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15 thoughts on “Feminism, Ecology, Transcendence vs. Christofascism”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Dorothee Soelle, Shows us today that: “Transcendence is no longer to be understood as being independent of everything and ruling over everything else, but rather as being bound up in the web of life.” Matthew says: “Here she is very much echoing Hildegard of Bingen from 800 years ago who talked about the ‘web of life’ that binds all creatures together.” Soelle says that this: “means that we move from God-above-us to God-within-us and overcome false transcendence hierarchically conceived.” Soelle named for us both Christolatry and Christofascism. Examples of Christofascism are the American evangelical community with far-right wing politicians, and the “normalizing” of such marriages within what was once the Republican party. And the rise of “Christian nationalism” and “white supremacy” groups is a logical next step. So too the rise of anti-Semitism, and Racism is often part and parcel of fascism. And so I too see the rise of Christofascism as manifest in the list of examples above.

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    Eckhart wrote, “All authentic deeds are those that emulate the original act of creation. They are acts that spring from love, lived.” Soelle identifies what is destructive to this, named as reason, rationalization of purpose, possession and control. Through this mystic lens, it helps us to spiritually discern all mysticism as the endeavor to escape from the entanglement of these destructive ways that crucify the love of God lived out.

    When you look at the acts of the Christofacist groups, through this mystical lens, you can discern their delusional reasoning of claiming themselves to be God ordained, superior over all others, which they rationalize not only as their constitutional right as self imposed founders of the lands they inhabit, but also as being purposefully preordained by their esqued interpretation of the word of God, to possess and control the governance of all institutions as well as the rich resources of this earthly landscape.

    The mystics/prophets part within this, is to spiritually discern that which is destructive to the love of God lived, to speak truth, to untangle the threads of false delusions, setting free the authentic love of God that springs from life, rather than destruction. They know that to live this authentic love is what we are created to emulate, that this sacredness is within all, needing to be kindled… as the spark of the divine within our humanity, embodied within our very hearts, minds and souls.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, After quoting Meister Eckhart you show that he speaks of “acts that spring from love, lived.” Then you say that: “Soelle identifies what is destructive to this, named as reason, rationalization of purpose, possession and control. Through this mystic lens, it helps us to spiritually discern all mysticism as the endeavor to escape from the entanglement of these destructive ways that crucify the love of God lived out.” In this statement I have one problem, and that is that I do not believe that “what is destructive to this, named as reason.” If it is “so called” reason that is one thing. But reason itself is never a hinderance to mysticism–Eckhart, Aquinas and Matthew all use reason, and have strong intellects. I like however how you end your comment: “The mystics/prophets part within this, is to spiritually discern that which is destructive to the love of God lived, to speak truth, to untangle the threads of false delusions, setting free the authentic love of God that springs from life…”

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    One ‘good’ person, if we are to label them that, could influence and change the perception of say 1 million plus people who believe both themselves to be ‘bad’ and situations to be beyond repair. If the one ‘good’ person is able to turn others to hope in a better way, provide a liberating new vision, then they become a threat to tyranny and tyrannists. If ‘one’ can give hope to a multitude of the downtrodden then they become ‘dangerous’, and are dealt with by being cast-out, censured, slandered, incarcerated or even killed. — BB.

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    Yes, Christofacism is a modern example of the sins and destructive values/behavior of egocentricity and related toxic, unbalanced ‘male’ patriarchal values in social institutions, including religions, that have caused and continue to cause so much destruction and suffering in our human history, including endangering our Sacred Mother Earth and all living species (including our own human species). Fortunately God’s Spirit of Love~Wisdom~Peace~
    Justice~Healing~Transformation~Creativity~Power~Freedom~Compassionate Service… continues to be Alive and Present in past and present mystics, saints, lightworkers, and ‘ordinary’ compassionate people around the world in their hearts and lives with one another and Sacred Nature within our co-Creating~Evolving Diverse Loving Oneness of our earthly and sacred multidimensional/multiverse Cosmos…
    ????

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    Brigid Cannon, OP

    We do live in dark times as we have most of our history. Yet, I also see and hear Truth bringing light to our churches, world as well as to each one of us. It is the Truth that sets us free.
    While living in New Mexico at our Retreat House on Coors Road, the Native American People who came for a weekend retreat taught me so much of Creation Spirituality. They came knowing they needed to look quietly within themselves and their community as they prayed to accept the darkness in their own lives before they could live the Beauty Way. They did this and began to be Transformed by acknowledging the Truth.
    Then they could live the Creative Way and prayed “We are all connected” by Love. This touched my sisters and myself deeply as we prayed with them. I continue to live Creation Spirituality in my own life as Matthew Fox teaches in his book “Original Blessings.”

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Brigid, You write today: “I continue to live Creation Spirituality in my own life as Matthew Fox teaches in his book ‘Original Blessings.'” And we celebrate the lives that you and your sisters live in devotion and for the good of all concerned…

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    Thank you. A very good meditation. I would suggest that We also need to label Christian capitalism as something to name as a problem. It goes hand in hand with and is a primary cause of Christofascim as a hierarchical system that is an anti-democratic individualistic oppressive system whose overall values are polar opposite to mystical liberation Christianity. That the liberal church has done well under capitalism unlike the poor or the environment is part of why this point of view gets very little traction. It is very hard to imagine a different system or world also makes it difficult with our media mostly owned by corporations who fail to point out the misery so many go through here on a daily basis wether they are overworked or unemployed, homeless or just plain unhappy. I guess it “works” well enough to keep enough people “satisfied” to stick around. But hopefully it will have its day of judgement one day when enough people wake up. We need democratic coops rather than corporations.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Edward, Today you wrote: “I would suggest that We also need to label Christian capitalism as something to name as a problem. It goes hand in hand with and is a primary cause of Christofascim as a hierarchical system that is an anti-democratic individualistic oppressive system…” This is clearly visible with evangelical television evangelists who are always asking for money, and the whole “Prosperity Gospel” idea which teaches that since you are a child of the King, you need to live like princes and princesses with all the material things that go with it! And even the book of Revelation speaks of “no one may buy or sell without the mark of the Beast”–capitalism at its absolute worst. I think its going to get worse before it gets better!

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    Absolutely, I see Christofascism as a problem. It is a threat to democracy, to our country in particular, and more than that it is a threat to anyone taking Christ’s message seriously. At worst it leads to the demise of Christianity as a religion. At best it leads to the demise of the false religion of Christian “fundamentalism,” a misnomer because it has nothing to do with the fundamentals of Christianity. I signed this statement just now and invite others to do so: https://www.christiansagainstchristiannationalism.org/statement

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Michele, Today you write: “I see Christofascism as a problem. It is a threat to democracy, to our country in particular, and more than that it is a threat to anyone taking Christ’s message seriously.” I encounter it on a daily basis, listening to scientific people who put all Christians in the same basket– which is the fundamentalist, capitalist, Christofascist basket, which is the dominant form of Christianity today. I find myself always saying, “But not ALL Christians believe that way, or act that way!”

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    Follow the money, and you follow the power and the temptation for corruption. The ultra-rich and the big corporations are protected from the effects of their draconian systems of exploitation, and will create religious rationales to “sell” their self-serving Ayn Rand religion to the masses. And powerful religious organizations, with massive amounts of money at their disposal, often act more like wealthy corporations and will join forces with the authoritarians to protect their power. In each case, wrap up their greed and lust for power in enough righteousness, and they’ll tell you it smells like holy perfume…until you get close enough to smell the rot. But now the large corporations and ultra-rich also control most of the sources of information, so they control more and more of the message: they’ve systematically bought up most of the news networks and online platforms so they can sell their religion of Power and Capitalistic greed. They sell holy authoritarian righteousness, wrapped around their Prophet of Profit, using a slick advertising campaign starring screaming holy-rollers who profess to be THE Defenders of the Faith. But behind the scenes, the authoritarian capitalists come out on top…just like they planned…and paid for.

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    Good point, but what I always say is that you can’t be a true Christian and worship the false god of power. I think true Christians do not support the gospel of wealth and power—true Christians would be the people who evidence Jesus in the world instead of parading their net worth around like a crown of stars.

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