From Introspection & Guilt to Cosmic Awareness & Celebration

Yesterday we considered St. Augustine’s role in establishing the introspective conscience of the West at the expense of the idea of divinization as taught in Eastern Christianity. 

Transfiguration as human theosis: rays of Jesus’ glory touching his apostles. Russian Orthodox icon by Dionisius, 15th century, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. Photo by Jim Forest on Flickr.

And how Mother Earth and indigenous peoples around the world have paid a frightful price for that neglect.  Today we will dig deeper. 

Augustine’s emphasis on introspection brings more guilt and shame and diminishing of the self into religion.  A fall/redemption tradition that ignores the cosmos can readily exaggerate individual sinfulness while often ignoring societal injustices and evil itself.

Augustine has no Cosmic Christ (though there is one in Paul and in the Gospels). Theologian Leo Scheffczyk writes:

The stress which Augustine lays on the immanent Trinity and its metaphysical and psychological interpretation helps to explain why he fails to develop the notion of Christ’s cosmic role or arrive at a vision of the world in the framework of the economy of salvation.

An exaggerated individualism poses the question: “Am I saved?”–which, as Stendahl points out, is not a Biblical question.

Philosopher R. A Markus comments on Augustine’s attitude toward nature.  

The world of nature was not in itself an object of particular interest in Augustine. In Cosmological thinking of the kind to be found in Aristotle’s Physics, for instance, he had little interest.

Galileo Galilei on trial for the heretical belief that the Earth revolves around the sun. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images. Wikimedia Commons.

Esteemed scientist Michael Polanyi writes:

When St Augustine denied the value of a natural science which contributed nothing to the pursuit of salvation…his ban destroyed interest in science all over Europe for a thousand years.

This makes all the more exciting and important the new cosmology that Webb Telescope and other findings invite us into today.  They awaken us to the larger context of where we come from and when the cosmos began its 13.8 billion year journey (or more) that brought Earth and us into existence.  A healthy religion invites a grateful response.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, pp. 75-77.

See also Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

Also see Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus, Stations of the Cosmic Christ.

Banner Image: “Am I saved?” Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

What is your response to the news of the universe being shared by Webb Telescope and the new cosmology and cosmogenesis?  Does it include gratitude and wonder and awakened reverence for existence?

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.

Stations of the Cosmic Christ
By Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus.

This is a book of meditations on the Cosmic Christ, accompanying the images of 16 wonderful clay tablets by Javier Ullrrich Lemus and M.C. Richards. Together, these images and meditations go far beyond the traditional Stations of the Cross to inspire a spirit awakening and understanding of the cosmic Christ Consciousness, Buddha consciousness, and consciousness of the image of God in all beings, so needed in our times.
“A divinely inspired book that must be read by every human being devoted to spiritual and global survival. It is cosmically brilliant.” — Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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4 thoughts on “From Introspection & Guilt to Cosmic Awareness & Celebration”

  1. Avatar

    “Cause for Celebration”

    The Webb telescope surely gives one pause, awe and wonder of God’s created glory. But what of our own ‘third eye’ which provides for each of us to look inward with pause, awe and wonder of God’s created glory? There would have to be training to use ‘both tools’ in order to use them effectively and accurately. Since none of us own a Webb telescope, is it not wise or beholden of us to learn to use the ‘third eye’ which invites us into the awe and wonder of who we are and the ‘cosmos’ in which we reside? Our gratitude for ‘this tool, this gift’ is evidenced by our use of this tool, training to use this tool, is it not? Now that would be cause for celebration. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    The focus on the role Augustine played in Western Christianity is most helpful. As an 87 year old Retired Presbyterian Church USA Minister, I have questioned our emphasis going back to Calvin on Substitutionary Atonement. With ties going back to Iona, J Phillip Newell has helped me appreciate Pelagius’s contribution to our Celtic heritage and to appreciate current interest in revisiting his teaching and having encountered Augustine in Rome and having been convicted of heresy as we were taught in Seminary. History is a great teacher. I appreciate your focus and look back with different lends.

  3. Avatar

    Mathew, I’m having a hard time understanding your comments around introspection. I get the connection your making how an over-emphasis on being introspective in relationship with the belief in original sin leads to guilt, shame and blame.

    However, recently Carolyn Myss and Harvey Bradley have been teaching the importance and neccessity of deep shadow work needed within the consciousness of humanity at this time; which emphasizes introspection. Does not this kind of deep introspective shadow work invoke a mature spirituality in which we stand accountable and take responsibility for our own reactions AND responses to whatever we may be encountering and experiencing both inwardly and outwardly in life?

    Is this not of value, in the sense of becoming much more consciously aware of the paintape stories we ARE living in; which includes the projection of guilt, blame and shame onto self or others. In order to heal this dominating shadow side of self, and reweave a new story, does not humanity need to willingly engage more with our true Soul/Self throughout this deep introspective process; that carries within it the potential to lead all to the unfolding, evolution and emergence of the awakened consciousness of the Divine nature; seeded within our humanity? Is this not what you yourself teach, through the four paths of Creation Spirituality rooted in the Original Blessing?

    Please clarify.

  4. Avatar

    Yes I feel gratitude and wonder! However I also feel excitement and curiosity to learn more about our Cosmology that includes our spiritual multidimensional-multiverse Cosmos the last few years. I have been following a few reputable and genuinely spiritual channelers/psychic mediums on their websites and books about these other spiritual dimensions/subtle realms and galactic universes. The most recent one is Elizabeth Wood (, who has two master degrees, has psychic gifts, and has studied and experienced these subtle cosmic realms the last twenty years. She just started on her website (still available) a once a month Zoom webinar series on our Galactic History. Maybe some of these channelers/psychic mediums are our modern mystics/spiritual explorers! There are two websites that are gathering the research and experiences of our subtle spiritual realms: (IONS) and .

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