Living in a time of war and wars, it behooves us to get a bigger perspective.  An awareness of history helps with that, as does an awareness of cosmology, the story of time and space and our place in the universe. 

“The Science of Space & Time & Our Place in The Universe.” Physicist Brian Cox discusses our ever-changing cosmos, the impossibility of absolute space, and the principle of general relativity. Science Time

French Dominican Père Chenu, about whom I wrote yesterday, had a profound sense of history—he was an eminent historian of the Middle Ages—which is one reason a renowned French historian, Jacques Le Goff (who was also an atheist) offered a eulogy for him at his funeral at Notre Dame Cathedral. 

Chenu also held a deep sense of the cosmos.  Time and space and time and matter and presence and place all very much came together for him along with Spirit.

Speaking of his brother Aquinas, Chenu says that for him 

“This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.” Letter to President Millard Fillmore, attributed to Chief Seattle, 1852. WapiskisiwMahihkan

the human person is entirely one with the cosmos. Human nature lives in nature; it is a microcosm of nature. The material world is not just a backdrop against which the history of peoples in their cultures as well as in their salvation and domination is played out. The history of nature is not just a minor event in the theater of a spiritual history.

The history of nature—evolution therefore—and the history of spirit go together. 

When I shared this statement recently with cosmologist Brian Swimme in a class we were teaching together, he went wild and couldn’t stop repeating it–the history of nature is not just a minor event in the theater of a spiritual history.   

Upper Paleolithic man buried with handcrafted mammoth ivory beads in Sunghir, Russia, 28,000 to 30,000 years ago, a very early instance of ritually burying the dead with offerings. Photo by José-Manuel Benito Álvarez on Wikimedia Commons.

Yes, spirit has a history, as Chenu insists.  

Aquinas observed the inclusion of the history of nature in the history of spirit. The history of spirit is the history of nature. The human person is situated at the junction of these two worlds which even with their essential distinctions realize in the human being a homogeneity of spirit and matter.


See Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 40, 72-82, 97, 221, 276, 281, 285, 251, 311, 440, 451.

And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas.

Banner Image: Native American sweat lodge. Archaeological evidence of sweat rituals exists around the world, in places dating back to Neolithic times. Photo by Hvoenok, Adobe Stock


Queries for Contemplation

What follows from an increased awareness that the history of spirit is the history of nature?   And that the history of nature is not just a minor event in the theater of a spiritual history?  


Recommended Reading

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

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit


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4 thoughts on “More from Chenu on Matter, Time, Space, the Cosmos”

  1. Avatar

    Matthew is one busy person!

    God bless him for his constancy in helping to build a community of informed, caring and creative
    brothers and sisters who value his exceptional contributions day after day.

    John G

  2. Avatar

    What follows from an increased awareness that the history of Spirit is the history of Nature, is the deconstruction of colonialism. This long history of colonialism established by white supremist empires and religion and its mentality of dominion over of both the diversity of Spirit’s movements within other spiritual and cultural pathways and its disconnect from this living Spirit within Nature… which led to the Doctrine of Discovery… through increased awareness needs to be deconstructed; in order for reconciliation and healing to begin to unfold, evolve and emerge within the collective consciousness of humanity.

    As we converge with the history of Spirit and its movements within Nature based spiritual pathways; such as the history of Indigenious Spirituality, Celtic Christian Spirituality, Shamanic Spirituality, Mysticism and Creation Centered Spirituality; more of this deconstruction of colonialism will be transformed through an increased awareness of the interconnections, interrelationships and interdependencies within Spirit and Nature; which hopefully will lead to reconciliation with and healing for Mother Earth and the all and the everything of creation, which includes humanity.

    The history of the movements of Spirit and Nature teaches us this process of death, change and transformation that births new life. The more we come into alignment with this movement through awareness, rather than resistance, the less painful it will be.

  3. Avatar

    Consciousness and humanity’s Eternal Souls are indeed profoundly important, Beautiful and mysterious manifestations of Our ongoing evolving LOVING Wisdom Creations in their Uniqueness and Diverse ONENESS in Our Sacred multidimensional~multiverse COSMOS from and within DIVINE LOVE~LIGHT~SPIRIT SOURCE in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

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