This afternoon (it is Thursday morning), I speak in the afternoon to a group based in Iowa where I speak once a month about one of my books. So when you read this it will be Friday morning and the talk will be behind me. 

Henry Tennenbaum interviews Matthew Fox on The Hidden Spirituality of Men on on the Bay Area’s KRON-TV. New World Library

The book I am sharing today is on the sacred masculine and called The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine.

As I woke up this morning, I realized anew how important that topic is, how distorted masculinity has become at this time in history, how the reptilian brain is on full display and unleashed and how unhinged our species is becoming.  The headlines tell the story every day. Wars. Invasions of sovereign countries. Putin and Kim Jong Un getting together to discuss more efficient ways to deliver nuclear weapons and to invade Father Sky and carry on a perverse war in Ukraine. 

Fascism’s shock troops, American-style: masked Proud Boys stand at a protest in Raleigh, North Carolina in November 2020. Photo by Anthony Crider in Wikimedia Commons.

The war on Mother Earth. Matricide. Ecocide. Misogyny everywhere evident. The killing of the mother, the killing of compassion therefore. Wisdom and compassion and the divine feminine sidelined. 

So much evidence of what Adrienne Rich calls the “fatalistic self-hatred” that accompanies Patriarchy everywhere. Psychologist Erich Fromm, taking the lesson from Naziism and the Holocaust, said that the origin of fascism is self-hatred. 

Fascism on display everywhere including in the bowels of the American political system.

Fascism as power and control and violence and the reptilian brain unleashed. A perverse and distorted masculinity unleashed. 

Men standing as allies at the Women’s March 2018, Vancouver, Canada. Photo by Sally Buck on Flickr.

Power-over vs. power-with which is what community and justice and love are all about. And compassion. Meister Eckhart: “There is no love where there is no equality.”

Yet there is progress too. Women coming into their own more and more and with men as allies at their side. A growing consensus and awareness of what I am talking about.

How needy we are for a new understanding of masculinity.  

To be continued.

See Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine.

And Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 417-420.

Banner Image: President Barack Obama hugs Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., after his introduction during the event to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches, at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., March 7, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza). Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree we are needy for a new understanding of masculinity?  What evidence do you invoke for that opinion?

Recommended Reading

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (Revised/Updated Edition)

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
“The unfolding story of this irrepressible spiritual revolutionary enlivens the mind and emboldens the heart — must reading for anyone interested in courage, creativity, and the future of religion.”
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self

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7 thoughts on “How Needy We Are for a New Masculinity”

  1. Avatar

    We need a deeper understanding of ‘our spirituality’ that allows room for both the masculine and feminine. We, as male or female, can as genders both be unbalanced in our views and perceptions. When one is so overly focussed on gender traits, that then becomes the bigger issue rather the problem at hand that needs to be resolved. If the feminine is underrepresented and needs ‘more voice’ at the table so be it. What the human in us has failed to achieve, the Divine has a solution for. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    In my experience, men often are drawn into engagement with spirituality from the women in their lives. Perhaps as more sisters go deeper into their own necessary healing and rise up in the beauty of this; they then will emerge as a strong womb space, able to hold sacred healing circles; for men to begin to do the same.

    This is not to say that brothers gathering together with other brothers is not equally important or of value, within this movement of Spirit during these transformational times; however most often this is not maintained and sustained.

    The reason that I sense this is so, is that in order to enter the depths of oneself, no matter what gender you are, one has to get in touch with the Sacred Feminine, the Divine Mother, in Her many manifestations; from within. There are brothers whom are in touch with this, however at this time they are fewer in number, than women.

    I also sense that as more sisters heal and transform their own wounding that has occurred generationally for centuries between brothers, than the more they will openly begin to share their personal spiritual experiences with them; creating and inviting brothers into this sacred holding womb space, so that more brothers can begin to heal and transform themselves.

    Once this occurs, then there can be mixed healing circles, in which the sisters can learn from the brothers how to step into their own inner masculine, in a balanced and healthy way.

  3. Avatar

    Yes Matthew, we as a human society urgently need a new spiritual understanding of masculinity. I attended your webinar yesterday about your timeless book, “The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine” (2008). You are certainly doing your part to help men (and women with their inner masculine spirit) get more in touch with their hidden inner spirituality. While there seems to be more awareness in world societies of the values of the Divine Feminine in women and men, integrating the Sacred Masculine is also an essential part of healing, balancing and fulfilling our personal and communal spiritual journeys — Christ Consciousness. Our Beloved Co-Creator Mother~Father Source Energy is both Feminine and Masculine Energy PRESENT within and among Us in Compassionately LOVING Healing Transforming Evolving Diverse Wholeness~ONENESS…. We are made in the Image and Likeness of GOD to Co-Create HER~HIS QUEENDOM~KINGDOM on earth as it Is in HEAVEN….

  4. Avatar

    Ya know—if part of your religious myth of manhood involves a tale about a guy who makes his son think he’s getting ready to slit the boy’s throat in order to please his god, you’re always going to have trouble defining manhood.
    This boy was going to be emotionally scarred for life believing that manhood means killing, even killing your own kids, if it’s something you ego convinces you is really necessary.
    We can worship in gratitude for the good that was freely given to us, but frankly, my dear, it’s Judeo-Christian religion, which includes Islam, that fostered and nurtured the patriarchy that prizes murderous brutality in men.

  5. Avatar

    Power, once gained, protects itself, justifying its insidious abuses with endless loops of twisted logic. Males will not give up their entrenched privilege until they feel deeply comfortable with their intrinsic, deep soul-level’s self-worth.
    Every man, every person, needs to become “merely human” (again), unique in their individuality and abilities while also equal and “respectfully humble” within the human race.
    We must stop the division of people into identities by category, e.g., men vs. women, rich vs. poor, saint vs. sinner. Jesus demanded we identify AS soul-equals, all loved by God. Jesus told everyone he was there to radically CHANGE all the entrenched cultural categories that defined peoples’ status and roles in life, and demonstrated this by challenging those who would claim power and prestige at ALL levels of society__ not just subverting imperialistic power structures, but also familial patriarchy. Women were deeply interwoven, honored and valued in his ministry at every point, as were the poor and outcasts.

    Jesus demanded a life of humble equality by insisting we IDENTIFY with the lowest, but men rejected and subverted Jesus’s challenge by reinforcing and protecting “Christian” elitist male dominance hierarchies at every single level of society.
    Men need to change their “masculine identities” to “humble humans” — like Jesus — instead.

  6. Avatar

    This reflection on the sacred masculine is indeed timely. Like Matthew, I am a resigned priest and am struck by the quote, ‘where this not equality, there is no love.’ My association with the Mankind Project and Richard Rohr’s -Illuman – confirm the ache and awe of needing a recovery of our sacred masculine in the context of an appreciation and respect for the gift of the feminine. The Church still has not addressed adequately the role of women in the church, and continues to perpetuate a false narrative for those who hold a ministerial office – a narrative that implicitly / explicitly refuses to acknowledge equality. Perhaps not in my life time, we will see the tipping point and find a change; wondering what were we doing all these years. I pray for the shifting from a national mindset to a global and inclusive world.

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