For a number of weeks we have been meditating on what the signs of holiness might be in the 21st Century. We began by citing Rabbi Heschel that “holiness” is the “most precious word” in religion.
I begin my new Preface of my revised edition of my book on Evil citing Pulitzer-prize winning author Ernest Becker who tells us in his book Escape from Evil that
…the commercial-industrial hero system is almost openly defunct; it so obviously denies reality, builds war machines against death, and banishes sacredness with bureaucratic dedication. Men are treated as things and the world is pulled down to their size.
Religion goes along and “in a perverse way the churches have turned their backs both on the miraculousness of creation and on the need to do something heroic in this world.” This flies in the face of
…the early promise of Christianity [which] was to bring about once and for all the social justice that the ancient world was crying for; Christianity never fulfilled this promise, and is as far away from it today as ever. No wonder it has trouble being taken seriously as a hero system.
This is not unlike Alfred North Whitehead’s observation that religion without adventure is dead. Or Teilhard de Chardin’s comment that
…because it is not sufficiently moved by a truly human compassion, because it is not exalted by a sufficiently passionate admiration of the universe, our religion is becoming enfeebled.
Does this have anything to do with why those who identify as “nones” today, when asked if they belong to any religion are now the same number of Americans (28%) as those who belong to the Roman Catholic church or to evangelical Protestantism? Or that last year in Germany over 500,000 Roman Catholics chose to formally leave the church?
Becker challenges society and religion’s complicity in evil when he writes that both science and religion are capable of exposing “unfulfilled life based on a continuing denial of social justice” including “internal victimage based on the inequality of social classes and the state repression of freedom.” This is possible because
…in science, as in authentic religion, there is no easy refuge for empty-headed patriotism, or for putting off to some future date the exposure of large-scale social lies.
Previously we have named Joy, Courage, Generosity as signs of holiness for our time. Let us now add: Justice.
To be continued.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society (2016 edition), pp, xlf.
Als see Matthew Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Peaceful protestors Adelaja and Pancho Ramos-Stierle are arrested at Occupy Oakland protest, 2011. Photographer: Noah Berger
Queries for Contemplation
Do you find society banishing sacredness with bureaucratic dedication? How do we bring it back?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God
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
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