Post-Modern Holiness Sign # 4: Justice

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. 

Instead of heroism, American Christianity peddles victimhood: A new Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings report reveals almost half of Americans claim Christians are as much discriminated against as other groups, including blacks and minorities. Secular Talk

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.

Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta comments on the implications of the Pew Research Center study revealing the percentage of Americans who claim no religious affiliation is now at 29% — higher than it’s ever been.

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?

CBN News spot profiles evangelical preacher Voddie Baucham differentiating social versus biblical concepts of justice.

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?


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

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


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5 thoughts on “Post-Modern Holiness Sign # 4: Justice”

  1. Avatar

    We have to honour the sacredness that we find ‘within’ and that which we find sacred ‘without’. We stop to honour our food with thanksgiving. We honour the four legged animal or bird or fish which becomes our meal and the eco-system in which the creature was raised and thrived. We stop to honour the sun, moon and the stars for what they are. We stop to honour the calm, silence and stillness that we look to find within us. We honour and provide room and heart space for the love, joy and peace that comes out of us. We honour and support the ‘justice’ required to allow all others to enjoy the sacred, the holy and their freedom to honour in their own way. In that way, we honour the others among us, the Creator among us and our soulful selves. — BB.

  2. Avatar
    Gwen McGrenere

    “Walter Brueggemann says Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment and quintessence of the prophetic tradition.” Jesus said that “if you live by the sword you will die by the sword.” He ultimately chose death over retributive violence. Today, we are well aware that the NRA seeds the USA with guns with large payloads, such guns now deployed by citizens against citizens. But we pay little attention to the massive lucrative global arms industry in which US production and sales have heretofore outpaced all other countries including Russia and China. It is not hard to imagine Jesus updating his warning to wannabe Christians: if you live by the weapons of mass destruction you will be destroyed by WMD. The big lie was/is that weapons will make you safer and that you are a limp wimp if you believe otherwise. Authentic informed courageous pacifists have been brushed aside or totally ignored for decades.

  3. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Injustices are the result of humanities inability to adapt to changes within the consciousness of humanity. Currently, due to the ending of the age of Pisces and its dualistic competitive nature and the dawning of the Aquarian age and its unifying and cooperative nature; the consciousness of humanity is experiencing, what we call, a paradigm shift.

    Consciously, humanity is awakening to the reality of the sacredness of our interconnections, interrelationships and interdependence upon all that which sustains and maintains the existence of all life. Within this shift, humanity will either continue in its dualistic competitive nature in resistence to the changes this new age is ushering into the collective consciousness or it will begin to adapt through unification and cooperation with this new paradigm that is unfolding and emerging, converging with what some are now calling the noosphere.

    What we are encountering is the death of the old and the birth of the new. As painfull as this process may be, Nature itself teaches us that it is through death, that change, transformation and new birth occurs.

  4. Avatar

    Yes! The marriage of the Christian Church with the Empire in the 4th century is an other serious example in history where toxic, destructive, ignorant, racist, and spiritually unbalanced patriarchal beliefs/values/actions continue to infiltrate, grow, and predominate perniciously in our societies and institutions throughout most of human history up to our present contemporary times dangerously and destructively continuing to cause our human suffering with violence, social inequities/injustices, and planetary/environmental/climate destruction, to the point of even endangering our own human species.
    Our human evolution, especially our spiritual development, is continuing especially as lived and demonstrated by many good people in our past and present, especially our Indigenous
    people, women, saints, mystics, prophets, and truth-justice seekers…
    Our Loving Wisdom co-Creator~Source~Spirit and the spiritual guides/healers/protectors from the spiritual realms are Always Present within and among Us Compassionately within our eternally evolving Sacred Souls on our spiritual journeys on Sacred Mother Earth and in our Sacred multidimensional-multiverse evolving Cosmos of Loving Diverse Oneness….

  5. Avatar

    I find society banishing sacredness not so much through bureaucracy but through greed (among the would-be oligarchs) and ignorance (among the proletariat). Together, they are moving away from the sacred, banning books and rejecting science in their wake. The working class is clueless that they are being used to advance the power of the few.

    On a related note, I find Hement Mehta’s analysis about decline in Christian “believers” terribly sad. He wants the values of secular citizens to be catered to by politicians and he mentions LGBTQ+ rights, church-state separation, science education, racial justice, and so on–not understanding that these ARE the values of true Christians. Someone needs to tell him that people on the Religious Right are, as Jim Wallis and Sojourners Magazine finally said in print, NOT Christians. “Christian nationalists” are not right, not Christian, and not religious as I understand religion. Nearly all my friends, along with my children, are secular. I share their values. Someone needs to explain to Mehta–and other anti-Christian pundits–that these values are Christian.

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