May 29, 2023. Memorial Day 2023: From Self-Hatred to Self-Love & Spreading Love
Otto Rank’s Rank’s profound insight that pessimism is born of self-hatred gives us a deep understanding of the origin of much suffering in the world. And much self-hatred, Rank says, is due to “artiste-manque,” the creativity we invest in beating up on ourselves. Hatred can also be the result of being the victim of abuse. Hitler was frequently abused by his father and so was the previous president whose father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. As Matthew says, “If the door into the suffering of self-hatred often comes from abuse of many kinds, then the way out is to find goodness around us….”
May 30, 2023. Courage, Holiness and the Story of Daniel Ellsberg
At this time of remembering, we honor the life of Daniel Ellsberg, a former defense analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, thus exposing the secret history of the Vietnam War. Charged with 12 felony counts and facing 115 years in prison, he was asked by a reporter, “Are you concerned about going to jail?” He replied: “Wouldn’t you go to jail if it would help end this war?” His courage was motivated by the great suffering he witnessed during the two years he spent in Vietnam, and inspired by the draft resisters willing to go to jail rather than fight an unjust war.
May 31, 2023. Celebrating the Holiness of Mahatma Gandhi
Catholic monk Bede Griffiths lived in a Christian ashram in India for over 50 years and wrote many important books on Hinduism and Christianity. He tells us that Gandhi was the first person to apply Jesus’ teachings in a political way. Then Gandhi, in turn, inspired other planetary luminaries such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and many more. Bede said that Mahatma Gandhi himself was deeply influenced by the gospel, not only directly through the New Testament but still more indirectly through Ruskin and Tolstoy (and) how the principles of the Sermon on the Mount can be applied to social and political life. Gandhi was a deep ecumenist way ahead of his time.
June 1, 2023. Further Wisdom from Gandhi: The Secret of Life & Beauty’s Role
Gandhi was often mentioned in Matthew’s book Original Blessing. Gandhi even encouraged us to “combat the doctrine of original sin.” He also said: The secret of life is selfless service. The highest ideal for us is to become free from attachment. He also said that “real beauty is my aim.” Matthew tells us: Rather than pursuing the question, “What is beauty?” it may be more useful to ask: “What are beautiful experiences you have had? How can we forge more beauty from our common sharing of this planet?”
June 2, 2023. Beauty, Politics and Justice: From Gandhi to bell hooks and more
Matthew tells us that awakening to beauty and awakening to justice often go together. After all, what is more ugly than injustice? No wonder Gandhi said, “real beauty is my aim.” And “those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.” Arturo Paoli was an Italian priest who worked during the Second World War to save Jews from the fascists. He said: To be religious is to give your life so that the world may be more beautiful, more just, more at peace; it is to prevent egotistical and self-serving ends from disrupting this harmony of the whole. Meanwhile Buddhist poet Kenji Mayasawa said: We ordinary people must forge our own beauty. We must set fire to the greyness of our labor with the art of our own lives…. May all these people inspire us to work together for beauty and justice.
June 3, 2023. Jesus (and Gandhi) as Artists and Prophets
Jesus chose to speak with the people who thronged around him, not in lofty or scholarly ways, but by using parables. This was an extremely creative and effective way of communicating the principles of the kingdom/queendom of God. Parables are non-elitist. As South African theologian Albert Nolan puts it: Nothing could be more un-authoritative than the parables of Jesus. Their whole purpose is to enable the listener to discover something for himself. They are not illustrations of revealed doctrines; they are works of art which reveal or uncover the truth about life. He appealed to the listeners’ imagination. As Matthew reminds us, “All prophets do that.”
Banner image: Mahatma Gandhi, using the principles he learned as he studied Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, leads others on the great Salt March in India in 1930. Wikimedia Commons
Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality
Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
“Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story
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