Yesterday we considered the teaching of Père Chenu that spirituality can be understood as “our true nobility.” How meditating on that can be good medicine in a time of wars like our current times.

A chaplain speaks at a service for “Prisons Week” in 2022. Photo by Methodist Central Hall on Flickr.

An important lesson in nobility occurred to me a number of years ago, shortly after my book on men and spirituality came out. I was lecturing at a conference on Earth and Spirit in Santa Fe, and after my talk a very dignified and unusually elegantly dressed man approached me. He was about 6’6”, had long white hair, and was wearing all black, including black tails. 

He introduced himself as a Native American chaplain working in prisons for the last 12 years. He told me this story: He said:

Man behind prison bars. Photo by Harry Shelton on Unsplash.

Men in prison do not want to look inside. They are busy projecting onto others, and for a long time I have been looking for a book that they would read, that would get them to look inside. Your book on The Hidden Spirituality of Men was the first I ever found that got them to look and find the nobility inside.

That phrase, “the nobility inside,” struck me so deeply and has stayed with me all these years. When I recently discovered Chenu’s definition of spirituality as “our true nobility” I easily connect the two. 

When we are wounded or abused, is that when we first lose touch with the nobility inside? When others do not treat us as noble, is that when we begin to forget the nobility inside? How many men are in prison because they lost touch with that nobility inside and thus lashed out at others?

Trump’s niece Mary describes his lack of nobility, and how it has infected his followers. Video by MSNBC. 

Did Donald Trump ever learn about the nobility inside him? And his many followers?

All kinds of questions come to mind when I meditate on that rich phrase from the Native American prison chaplain: The nobility inside.  

To be continued.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, pp. 417-420.

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

And Fox, “Meister Eckhart and Karl Marx: The Mystic as Political Theologian,” in Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets, pp. 165-198.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE

Banner Image: Chiefs march in a 2005 Powwow at the MCI Center. Photo by Walter Larrimore for the Smithsonian Institution. Wikimedia Commons.



Queries for Contemplation

Are we busy exploring the nobility inside? How do you find the nobility inside you? And inside others? And how do you help bring it out of others? And yourself?


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 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

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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8 thoughts on “Our True Nobility, continued”

  1. Avatar

    The nobility and the spirituality of indigenous peoples is being rediscovered by whites. In part, because of disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and the opiod crisis. Hope that the whites don’t manipulate and exploit indigenous peoples in order to serve the white agenda. Key point to keep in mind about traditional indigenous cultures: They’re communal cultures. If you’re only looking for individualism, self-satisfaction, or personal success and personal happiness, it’s best to look in other places. Leave the native communities in peace.

  2. Avatar

    True nobility as defined by an Indigenious point of view, is knowing the truth of one’s natural goodness; or what Mathew calls Original Blessing.

    It’s also knowing the truth of one’s oneness with nature; one’s interrelationships, interconnections, and interdependencies to the whole of existence; and the truth of one’s oneness with both one’s humanity and one’s divinity; the As Above and the So Below being one reality.

    It’s knowing the truth of one’s social bonds while at the same time knowing one’s individual giveaway of beauty that responds to these social bonds, up to seven generations.

    As well it’s knowing ones own truth, through untutored wisdom based on one’s intimate and direct personal experience and unique relationship with the Great Mystery; unfolding, evolving and emerging in ones life and converging with this, within the all and the everything of creation.

  3. Avatar

    Profound meditation questions Matthew about our Divine Nature already within us. One of the main tragedies in human history, with its’ consequent destructive effects and human suffering up to our present day, has been the lack of awareness and therefore separation from our Divine Loving Source and Essence within us. With the inspiration of a few mystics, saints, many Indigenous peoples, good persons, and the grace of God, we are reminded of the sacred importance of awakening this Alive and Present Spirit of Divine Love~Wisdom within us in our daily lives with another, with Sacred Mother Nature and all Her creatures and graceful abundance, and Our Diverse ONENESS with-in ALL Our ongoing Co-Creation Evolution in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  4. Avatar

    Are we “busy exploring the nobility inside”. That, to me, is a wonderful question. Just that question will stay with me. Thank you for that today.

  5. Avatar

    We need to learn Indigenious peoples wisdom. I believe it is the way to a true spirituality, to bring one together with nature, God, and all.

  6. Avatar

    Everyone a seed of God, destined to grow into God, is a wonderful image–we are made in God’s image, and then it is up to us to grow into the likeness of God with humility, prayer, and experiential self knowledge, as Teresa of Avila put it. And then to spread our love to others.

  7. Avatar

    DURING MY YEARS OF VOLUNTEER WORK THRU KAIROS TORCH PRISON MINISTRY (FOR 11-21 YEAR OLDS) OUTSIDERS ASKED ME, “WHAT I SAW IN THE INCARCERATED? I FOUND A THOMAS MERTON QUOTE THAT ANSWERS THE QUESTION: “LOVE IS SEEING WHAT IS TOO PRECIOUS TO DIE IN ANOTHER.”

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