Week of 4/24–4/29/2023: Shame & Evil vs Holiness & Exuberance

April 24, 2023. Exuberance, Exultation, Belonging: Moving beyond Shame
In this meditation, we explore the good reason we have for being both exuberant and exultant about this sacred Earth we are blessed to live upon. And we recognize that shame, and the expression of aggression born of that shame, is often linked to a feeling of not belonging. But, as Matthew reminds us, we do belong. We belong to this Mother who so generously gives us everything we need to survive. We belong to the earth, the sun, the ocean, the trees, the animals. We are social animals, and getting along is actually more intrinsic to our nature than lying, hating, and fighting.

“The Peaceable Kingdom” by Edward Hicks. This painting, one of over 60 versions of The Peaceable Kingdom painted by Edward Hicks, depicts William Penn in the background, conversing with the Lenape. Wikimedia Commons

April 25, 2023. Cosmologist Brian Swimme on the Wonder of Being Human
Feelings of not belonging became enmeshed in the human psyche when we were taught that we lived in a mechanized universe with a distant Father God/Father Sky and that we were born into sin. Otto Rank taught instead that our original wound was not sin, but the separation we felt when we left our mother’s womb. Matthew, of course, espouses the concept of Original Blessing. What a relief to feel the goodness of the Universe and all creation! When we celebrate this connectedness, this feeling of belonging, we fall into alignment with spiritual teachers everywhere.

April 26, 2023. Champs, Chimps & Firings at Fox “News”
We note the abrupt and unceremonious firing of Tucker Carlson, the most popular of Fox’s anchors. Some wonder whether this had less to do with the blatant lies that were promulgated by him (and others) than his misogynistic attitudes and his sexual harrassment tendencies which have resulted in yet another trial against Fox. Then again, emails have come to light in which he badmouthed Fox officers, all while receiving an enormous $30 million salary. Carlson was one of many who liked to whip viewers into a frenzy of hatred and aggression, like those of our cousins, the chimpanzees, who viciously fight any outside of their tribe. But this kind of behavior makes the human soul shrink. Perhaps there is cause to rejoice in the firing of a man such as he.

Joy Reid and her panel report on Tucker Carlson’s destabilizing impact on democracy in America and in the world. MSNBC

April 27, 2023. Chimps & Us, Stadiums, Sports and Wars, continued
In today’s DM, we continue the conversation comparing chimpanzees and human beings regarding our social behavior. Chimps, like humans, can be vicious with those perceived to be enemies, however, according to author Carl Safina, chimps demonstrate a “a preference for peace, within a penchant for war.” He tell us that “life for chimps is peaceful, most of the time.”  Scientific data show that chimpanzees spend the vast majority of their time—roughly 99 % of their natural lives—in peace. Yet, Safina says that other species–“bonobos, sperm whales, elephants, and a few others—have found more consistent peace.” He says, “For the vast majority of their lives and times, the chimpanzees connect amicably and quell their worst impulses.”  They “tap into their better nature ninety-nine percent of the time.” If we humans could achieve a peaceful world 99% of the time, that would be a big improvement!

April 28, 2023. Holiness and Answering to Evil
As spiritual beings, we have to be alert to violence and hatred in our world so that we can help to transform it (Via Transformativa.) The expulsion and censorship of Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and now transgender leader Zooey Zephyr, are examples of hatred and fascism. We remember Susan Sontag’s definition of fascism as “institutionalized violence.” By contrast, what these three are doing in standing up and speaking out is holy work. What can be said about holiness and evil? Rabbi Heschel said it best: The Biblical answer to evil is not the good but the holy.  It is an attempt to raise humanity to a higher level of existence, where humans are not alone when confronted with evil.  Living in ‘the light of the face of God’ bestows upon humans a power of love that enables one to overcome the powers of evil.  

Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr, moments before Republican lawmakers voted to censure the transgender politician for an alleged breach of decorum. Yahoo News

April 29, 2023. Holiness and Moving beyond Evil, continued
We explore Rabbi Heschel’s teaching: “the holy is an attempt to raise humanity to a higher level of existence.” What are qualities of holiness? Matthew proposes Courage and Joy. Joy is considered a “gift of the Spirit” and is bigger than suffering and evil. The Upanishads tell us: “Joy comes from God….From joy all beings have come and unto joy they all return.” Meanwhile, the Buddha said; “Waken yourself, watch yourself, and live joyfully.” There are many examples of people who have endured abuse or oppression and yet go on to live full and vibrant lives. These people embody holiness.

Thich Nhat Hanh demonstrates mindfulness and then unexpectedly evokes laughter, teaching that spirituality need not always be so serious. Plum Village on YouTube

Banner image: Exuberance at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Photo by Jessica Tan on Unsplash

Recommended Reading

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

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4 thoughts on “Week of 4/24–4/29/2023: Shame & Evil vs Holiness & Exuberance”

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    I am no longer receiving my daily meditations in a for. That allows me to hear Matthew Fox’s comments T the end of the meditations. I have been receiving these meditations for years and don’t know what hPlened to change my format but would like to have the meditations in their entirety as Matthew’s comments are very important to the meditations. Please let me know how this can be corrected. Thank you

    1. Phila Hoopes

      Hello Annie,
      Thank you for reaching out. While nothing has changed in the format of the DMs, I notice that you have a GMail address. You may not be aware that GMail truncates long email messages (it happens routinely with the DMs) and gives an ellipsis (…) for you to click at the bottom of the message to see the remainder of the message. Please check at the bottom of your DMs, and you should see this…if this doesn’t help, please feel free to reach out to us at team@dailymeditationswithmatthewfox.org and we’ll see what we can do to help. Thank you!
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    Jeanette Metler

    Christine Falters Paintner has written a wonderful book titled “Birthing the Holy”. She also is the abbess of “Abby of the Arts”, which you can access online. She is a Benidicton monk, artist, expressive arts therapist and a Jungian psychologist. In this book, she combines all of this, leading one on a journey of birthing the archetype of the Holy… of the Divine Feminine of the 31 iconic images of Mary. I highly recommend engaging with this sacred soul journey offered through this book, as I find it to be an amazing guide through the creative pathway; in which one begins to see the unfolding, evolutionary process of emerging and converging with the transformative processes of “Birthing the Holy” from within!

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