Week of 7/24-29/2023: Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality & the Four Paths

July 24, 2023. Creation Spirituality Steps Out of the Catholic World
Matthew Fox was silenced by the Vatican from 1989-1990, was expelled from the Dominican Order in 1993, and was later forced to leave Holy Names College. In 1996 he moved the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality to downtown Oakland, where it later became the University of Creation Spirituality. Currently, Matthew is the author of over thirty books which have sold more than 1.5 million copies in fifty-six languages, and he was the recipient of the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award and the Ghandi-King-Ikeda Award from Morehouse College.

Matthew Fox’s appearance on “Thinking Allowed,” circa 1990. Video by ThinkingAllowedTV.

July 25, 2023. A Journey Through the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality
Matthew speaks about the Four Paths: The four paths of creation spirituality first emerged for me on examining my own experiences and on encountering Eckhart. It is one thing to talk about the Via Positiva and the Via Negativa, but if you put them together, they are like an electric charge—the positive and negative make sparks; they make a third thing—the Via Creativa. And that in turn gives birth to a fourth thing: Compassion, Justice, Celebration… The naming of the journey in four paths constitutes the very backbone or structure of creation spirituality.

The four paths of Creation Spirituality, VP-VN-VC-VT, in Individual Nexus, by Bernard Amadei. Published with permission of the artist.

July 26, 2023. The Via Positiva–What We Can Learn From the Works of Creation
Today we look at some nuggets of wisdom from Matthew Fox’s groundbreaking work, Original Blessing: Creation itself, and not just books, is a source of truth and revelation. And: The fall/redemption tradition tends to identify death with sin, as if death came into the world as a result of sin. But a reasonable meditation on creation would not come to this conclusion at all. In fact, what we learn by examining nature is that all things have their cycles of life, death, and transformation. 

July 27, 2023. The Gospel of Creation, as told by Jesus: Nature’s Storyteller
One of Jesus’s paths was that of the storyteller, and he sometimes used nature as a teacher. Indeed, the creatures of nature were his teachers, whom he recognized instinctively were looking “on him with affectionate looks” and with truth to tell. Matthew teaches: “Every creature is a manifestation of the Cosmic Christ, and that divinity permeates all of reality.” To say, as Descartes said, “I think therefore I am” is so egocentric. Rather, Matthew encourages us to say: “Earth exists and therefore we are.”

July 28, 2023. Creation Spirituality: An Amazing Gathering Place
In this meditation, we look at the amazing diversity that Creation Spirituality embraces. Says Matthew: As a movement, creation spirituality becomes an amazing gathering place, a kind of watering hole for persons whose passion has been touched by the issues of our day—deep ecologists, ecumenists, artists, native peoples, justice activists, feminists, male liberationists, gay and lesbian peoples, animal liberationists, scientists seeking to reconnect science and wisdom, people of prophetic faith traditions…. All are welcome.

“The Peaceable Kingdom” woodcut by Fritz Eichenberg for The Catholic Worker, 1950. Image uploaded to Flickr by Jim Forest.

July 29, 2023. On God, the Cosmic Christ, Laughter, and Mysticism
Matthew speaks about a “different kind of God.” He says: I look for a different kind of deity from that of the modern era in the coming century: a God of justice, of beauty, of celebration, of creativity, of truth, of wonder, of mystery, of nature, of humor, of earth and earthiness. And: The creation tradition understands mysticism primarily as our entering the fullness of the mystery of existence, the gift and blessing of creation itself.

Mystic creation. Image by Hartwig HKD on Flickr.

Banner image: “The Medicine Wheel.” (Work in Progress.) Although the Four Paths is not associated with the indigenous medicine wheel, the medicine wheel can offer a beautiful opportunity for meditating on four: directions, elements, seasons, paths, etc. Image by Christopher Paquette on Flickr.

Recommended Reading

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

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

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