Today will be my final day of sharing these gems of truth from the writings of Matthew Fox, and I thank him, and you, for the opportunity to share with you in a small way. What we will consider today is Matthew’s vision of what it means to be an American, and his thoughts on prayer.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN AMERICAN
I am beginning to learn from native peoples what it means to be an American. To be an American does not mean that I wrap myself in the red, white, and blue and acquiesce to the shibboleths and paranoia that so characterize the last days of empire building in the West. Rather, to be American means that I listen with my heart to the history of this land and its peoples who for tens of thousands of years have lived and celebrated on this earth. WP 122
We are prayerful when we
undergo mystical experiences
and when we march in the streets
or struggle to resist shadow forces through
reinventing work, education, or religions. C 94
THOUGHTS ON PRAYER
Our work is meant to be—and can be—our prayer.
It is a radical response to life, it is prayer. C 149
I define prayer as a radical response to life. P xxiv
The prayer process,
which goes on as long as life keeps beckoning
and we remain open to become aware,
free in our response, grateful and ready for conversion,
is a movement toward love,
however imperceptibly it may rise
from the roots within us,
that will set fire to the earth. P 95
The only real “answer” to prayer
is a changed person on the one hand
and a changed people,
that is a changed world or culture, on the other. P 101
Compassion is about
sharing the joy
and sharing the pain,
and about doing what we can
to relieve the pain,
especially that are caused by injustices,
whether they be
or generational in nature. AWE 122
There can be no compassion
and there will be no authentic celebration
that does not result
in increased compassionate energies. SC 4
Jesus came preaching the kingdom
and what we got was the churches—
what a let down! OB 101
See Matthew Fox, The A.W.E Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human, p. 122
See also Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet, pp. 94, 149
See Fox, Prayer: A Radical Response to Life, pp. xxiv, 95, 101
See Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, p. 101
See Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice, p. 4
See Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life
Banner image: “Compassion.” Image by Paul Fox on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
How can you work with prayer and compassion for our country?
The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human
The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
“An awe-based vision of educational renewal.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.
Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet
Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow. Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Living in Sin
Prayer: A Radical Response to Life
How do prayer and mysticism relate to the struggle for social and ecological justice? Fox defines prayer as a radical response to life that includes our “Yes” to life (mysticism) and our “No” to forces that combat life (prophecy). How do we define adult prayer? And how—if at all—do prayer and mysticism relate to the struggle for social and ecological justice? One of Matthew Fox’s earliest books, originally published under the title On Becoming a Musical, Mystical Bear: Spirituality American Style, Prayer introduces a mystical/prophetic spirituality and a mature conception of how to pray. Called a “classic” when it first appeared, it lays out the difference between the creation spirituality tradition and the fall/redemption tradition that has so dominated Western theology since Augustine. A practical and theoretical book, it lays the groundwork for Fox’s later works.
“One of the finest books I have read on contemporary spirituality.” – Rabbi Sholom A. Singer
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
A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice
In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register
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.