In yesterday’s DM we meditated on how the word generous in its earliest use implied “noble” and “born to nobility.” And in the video I shared the story of how Meister Eckhart preached on how everyone is an aristocrat or noble—and this got him in considerable trouble in his day with…guess who?
The archbishop of Cologne at the time had “von” before his name so we know he was of the aristocratic class. No doubt he and his fellow “nobles” were not pleased with Eckhart’s inviting peasants and others to consider themselves as aristocrats.
Eckhart’s first trial against him was called by that archbishop and he actually won that juridic process. But a later trial held in Avignon where the pope was then living did not end so positive for him. He died after the trial and was condemned a week after he died.
Sadly, his effort to preach the good news that included a democratizing of nobility was in many respects buried with him therefore.
Let us return to his teaching and listen to him anew. In a time of rising fascism and authoritarianism it is important that we hear these messages and not only to buttress our efforts at preserving democracy. But also because the core reason why people are attracted to might over right and control over freedom and violence over relating and anger over conversation is that some people have a very low opinion of themselves.
So they project their greatness onto so-called “leaders” who promise to avenge their anger and self-hatred and hurt onto others. This is the nature of fascism in its many incarnations. Hatred of others comes from ignorance and a deep self-hatred.
Eckhart preached on this passage from Luke’s gospel (19.12): “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.” Said Eckhart:
How nobly humans are constituted by nature, and how divine is the state to which they can come by grace….A large part of Holy Scripture is affected by these words….In us is the inward person, whom the Scriptures call the new person, the heavenly person, the young person, the friend, and the noble person.
Eckhart chose not to confront aristocracy head on, but to recreate it entirely by baptizing all into it. Instead of putting down nobles and aristocrats, he makes the peasants into nobles. Instead of putting down anyone, he elevates all.
To be continued.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, “Meister Eckhart and Karl Marx: The Mystic as Political Theologian,” in Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets, pp. 165-198.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “Communion of Saints tapestry, Los Angeles Cathedral. This is part of the fresco-like Communion of Saints along the north wall of the nave. Twenty-five fresco-like tapestries depict 135 saints and blesseds from around the world, including holy men and women of North America canonized by the Church.” Photo by Barbara Hartford/James Strong on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Are you in touch with the inward, new, heavenly, young, friend and noble person within you? What follows from that? How do you access that?
Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life
In one of his foundational works, Fox engages with some of history’s greatest mystics, philosophers, and prophets in profound and hard-hitting essays on such varied topics as Eco-Spirituality, AIDS, homosexuality, spiritual feminism, environmental revolution, Native American spirituality, Christian mysticism, Art and Spirituality, Art as Meditation, Interfaith or Deep Ecumenism and more.