What it Means to be an American & How Prayer & Compassion Can Help

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.

“Welcome to the Movement | Land Needs Guardians.” By Land Needs Guardians.


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


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

“Anne Lamott’s Unconventional Definition of Prayer | SuperSoul Sunday | Oprah Winfrey Network.” OWN

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

Serving people on the streets. Showing compassion. By Insider.

There can be no compassion
without celebration
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?

Recommended Reading

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 FundamentalismLiving 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 StylePrayer 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.

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11 thoughts on “What it Means to be an American & How Prayer & Compassion Can Help”

  1. Avatar

    “How can you work with prayer and compassion for our country?”

    Time has shown and God has shown that the universal truth is greater than any nation, any empire, any peoples, before, now and after the present time, in the present age.

    Jesus then, ‘our foundation’, the New Covenant, the creator of the new heaven and new earth, is our prayer, our faith, our hope and our passion, without which there is no compassion. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    Thank you Richard, for your beautiful contributions over the past month with regards to the DM’s. The messages you brought forth around Creation Spirituality, deepened my understanding and were much appreciated. I also want to thank you for the link to the Land Needs Guardians. The forest fires raging through Canada, inparticular in B.C. are breaking my heart… opening me to consider other ways of getting more involved than I already am; in being a steward and guardian of Grandmother Earth and all my relations. I’ll be praying about all of this in the Sweat Lodge Ceremony I’m participating in with my brothers and sisters this Sunday, in the Haliburton Highlands. This ceremony is one of the ways in which I gather together with others in prayer, in the spirit of compassion… in faith, hope and trust that it makes a difference.

  3. Avatar

    From the Talmud
    Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now.
    You are not obligated to complete the work. But neither are you free to abandon it.

  4. Avatar

    Thank you so much Richard for all your contributions to DM! You are much appreciated. And so are all the contributors who through their comments contribute to an insight and understanding of how spirituality works in their lives.
    For my part every time during the day I connect with the Spirit of Love, Compassion, Justice, Christ, I am infused with a spiritual energy to do any work at my fingertips and to reach out and share this love with everyone I meet this day. This Spiritual energy to love and be joyful is evolving and healing me and becoming integral to my survival.
    Without it I am weak. With it I am strong. People so much need this energy to survive as well, its influence and power is what shapes our understanding of what it means to live as the Beloved Community.
    And to build that community! Sharing it any way we can is a beautiful thing.

    1. Richard E Reich-Kuykendall

      And JoAnne, Thank you for reading our Daily Meditations. After over thirty years of ministry, I have found Creation Spirituality to be the only form of Spirituality that I can live with. It is rich in its mysticism, and is not only hundreds of years old, but is also fresh and new with mystic-prophets like Matthew himself. And finally it balances the contemplative with social action. Here Justice and Mercy kiss !!!

  5. Avatar

    Lakota Law
    …Then, on Monday, the courts did their part. In Held v. State of Montana, a judge ruled in favor of 16 youths who alleged the state’s fossil fuel-friendly policies have contributed to the climate crisis and violated their right to a healthy environment.
    Lakota LawPlaintiff Sariel Sandoval, a member of the Bitterroot Salish, Upper Pend d’Oreille, and Diné Tribes, testified in Helena that climate change in Montana directly impacts her tribal identity. Photo from the Montana Free Press.
    For the first time in all of U.S. history, the government has been held accountable for violating constitutional rights by relying on fossil fuels. In her landmark 103-page order, Judge Kathy Seeley affirmed that Montana contributes to climate degradation and violates its own constitutional guarantee of a “clean and healthful environment” by ignoring environmental impacts when permitting energy projects. A provision of the Montana Environmental Policy Act even prevents the state from considering how its energy economy impacts climate change.
    The intersection of Native and environmental justice was on full display during the court proceedings. Several of the suit’s plaintiffs are Native, and on the trial’s third day, enrolled members of the Crow and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes provided powerful testimony highlighting the deleterious impact of climate change on Indigenous cultural heritage.

  6. Avatar

    A thought just hit me. Can we say that prayer is not just a radical response to life, but also a radical response to death? A radical response to injustice?

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Ed, Thank you for your thought. I feel that prayer is definitely a radical response to injustice, however whether prayer is a radical response to death depends on a few things: (1) For the Catholic prayer is a radical response to death because the belief in purgatory requires prayers for the dead. (2) For most non-Catholics, there is a belief in prayer for the “dying,” but not for the dead, because they feel that once someone is dead there is nothing more to pray for, because their life is over, and there is no purgatory–there are just prayers for the grieving…

  7. Avatar

    I offer my Faith and prayers to my sisters and brothers through my retirement low-fee spiritual
    spiritual guidance ministry, and online to those on my email list whom I call my spiritual friends. I’m a member of a few on-line multimensional spiritual support groups. I include All living beings, and our beautiful Sacred Mother Nature/Earth and all her living creatures in my prayers of DIVINE Love~Wisdom~Peace~Justice~Healing~Transformation~Diverse ONENESS… to grow in Our hearts and lives with one another….

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