The title of this book indicates a paradox, as most religious people would think “sins” would be of the “flesh.” Matthew turns it around and shows that there are blessings of the flesh and sins of the spirit—as he demonstrates with the seven capital or “deadly” sins.
(See quotations by Matthew Fox, below.)
The Garden of Eden
The classical teaching about sin in the Garden of Eden is that we must resist the trinity of lust, pride, and disobedience. Desire gets a hit, pride takes a wallop, and disobedience get you a ticket to hell itself. But there may be genuine overkill here: What about the need for desire, for passion, for knowing what calls us and allures us, sirenlike, from our slumber? Fire is not the problem—in fact, acedia is lack of fire, and there lies the problem. Knowing and responding generously to what motivates us is an essential part of being alive in the world. Teresa of Avila said that prayer is 95 percent desire!
One of Thomas Aquinas’s definitions of sin was “misdirected love.”
Perhaps evil is inevitable in a universe as powerful and creative and full of eating and being eaten, living and dying as ours is. Perhaps evil is to blessing what terror is to beauty. Perhaps evil is the moral equivalent of terror, the moral counterpoint to beauty. Just as beauty and terror go together, so do goodness and evil, blessing and malice. Perhaps.
See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society. pp. 228-229, 161, 160
Queries for Contemplation
Share some of your blessings of the flesh and sins of the spirit—if you feel comfortable.
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