We have been meditating on Holiness and what it means in the 21st century. Père Chenu, a great historian and theologian, who named the creation spirituality tradition for me when I studied with him 55 years ago, points out that when societies evolve their ideas of holiness also evolve.
We have suggested that today’s understanding of holiness might include these four elements: Joy, Courage, Generosity and Justice. Holiness is not something exclusively interior, it is not divorced from what we give back to society.
At the same time we were discussing such matters, the Supreme Court issued its rulings for the year, many of which seemed distant from generosity or justice or bringing joy to others. They seemed almost punitive toward the poor, the young, people of color and sexual minorities.
And toward the Earth and the environment which touches the young especially because it is about the future of parenting and of quality of life on this planet for generations to come.
We called on the deep justice-oriented spirituality of Thomas Aquinas to inspire resistance to acts of injustice that a Supreme Court is capable of when it owes more to billionaire buddies with cases before the court than to listening to those who suffer under their decision-making.
Or, in the sad case of Justice Barrett, to five visits she made giving paid speeches before an anti-gay hate group.
Today I want to introduce you to a spiritual writer who was on my faculty for many years, M. C. Richards. M. C. was a potter, poet, painter, philosopher and critic of education. Her book Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person is a classic on art as meditation. I first met her on reading that book when she responded heartily to the rather lengthy review I wrote about it.
Happy to say, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of that book while she was teaching with us in the Bay area and her good friends Merce Cunningham and John Cage, who were teachers with her at the experimental Black Mountain College (along with Buckminster Fuller) participated in that celebrative event.
I think she was a champion in Joy and Courage, Generosity and Justice.
In the Introduction to the anniversary edition of Centering she writes:
We move inwardly in opposite directions. Toward self-definition and toward community. Toward ethical individualism and toward social justice. It is this fusing of the opposites that Centering enables.
To be continued.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 125, 153.
Also see Matthew Fox, “Deep Ecumenism, Ecojustice, and Art as Meditation” in Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets, pp. 215-242.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “Person Molding Vase” by Swapnill Dwivedi on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with M. C. that “fusing of the opposites” such as happens on a potter’s wheel is a way of deepening our inner (and outer) journeys? What follows from that?
Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (Revised/Updated Edition)
Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
“The unfolding story of this irrepressible spiritual revolutionary enlivens the mind and emboldens the heart — must reading for anyone interested in courage, creativity, and the future of religion.”
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self
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.