Week of 12/18-23/2023: Earth, a “Rare Gem” in the Universe, Gay Marriage, Grace

December 18, 2023: Science Calls Earth “A Rare Gem in a Universe Very Hostile to Life”
Physicist Marcelo Gleiser reminds us that science is asking this question: “Are we alone in the Universe?” He says that with our current capabilities, we are at a point where we can actually begin to answer this question. “And it all points to our planet being a rare gem in a Universe that is very hostile to life.”* LIfe is “enormously complex,” and it has taken Earth “many truly mind-boggling steps to go from non-life to the first living creatures, and then on to complex unicellular life and multicellular creatures.” There is much to concern us during this time of war and threats to democracy, etc., but we can’t lose sight of the fragility of life on Earth. It’s time to act in a good way so that life on the planet may continue.

ScienceCasts explains recent innovations in monitoring the health of our “Blue Marble” from the Deep Space Climate Observatory. Video by ScienceAtNASA.

December 19, 2023: Our Earth, a “Rare Gem” in the Universe, & Us
Astrophysicist Joel Primack concurs with physicist Marcelo Gleiser that Earth is a rare gem. He told Matthew, I did some research a couple years ago showing that Earth is rare in a previously unknown way:  Earth has just the right amount of radioactive heating from thorium and uranium radioactive decay!“* He tells us that humans are “at the center of all the possible sizes in the universe” because creatures much smaller than we are could not have sufficient complexity for our kind of intelligence…but intelligent creatures could not be much larger than we are either. Also, this time of cosmological discovery is significant because the most distant galaxies “are disappearing over the cosmic horizon” and even with advanced telescopes, future humans “will never be able to see as many galaxies as we can see now.”

December 20, 2023: Pope Francis Blesses Gay Unions
Recently Pope Francis approved the blessing of gay marriages. The official Declaration called “Fiducia Supplicans” on “the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings” was signed by its new prefect, Cardinal Victor Manuel  Fernandez, the new head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.  Pope Francis signed off on it and is cited 20 times in the formal document. Praising Pope Francis for his courage, one also looks to further steps in the future as the word gets out that sexuality, itself a blessing, is diverse like so much else in creation.

Indigenous people look to revive traditional LGBTQ terms and understanding. CBCSaskatchewan

December 21, 2023: More on Gay Catholics, Pope Francis, Science
Why is the Pope couragenous for okaying the blessing of gay marriages? Because some American non-Catholic “Christians” called the pope an instrument of Satan. Plus, within the Catholic Church itself, Pope Francis is taking on his predecessors, Popes JP II and Benedict XVI, who wrote horrible things about homosexuals. But the pope is not alone. The Anglican Church also last week allowed blessings of gay marriages (though its American version, the Episcopal Church, has been doing that for decades including ordaining gay clergy and bishops). Though Pope Francis has demonstrated courage, the future of religion is not with giant institutions but with spirituality and conscience.

December 22, 2023: On Grace 
Recently a DM reader asked Matthew to write on Grace. Happy to oblige, Matthew writes that when asked by a group of Jewish women years ago about the meaning of the word ‘grace,’ he replied, “Unconditional love, the flow of unconditional love.” He continues: “Grace is a blessing, a gift.” For instance, the previous night, there was a huge, pounding rainfall that the weather forecasters called “a river of rain.” Matthew stated what many people out West now recognize, rainfall in a world which has seen increasingly horrifying wildfires, is a great gift. He tells us that bad theologies have put a wedge between nature and grace but a mystic like Meister Eckhart recognizes that “nature is grace.”  Humans, too, can be instruments of grace.

A journey through the Namib desert in the rainy season, witnessing its transformation from dry to green. Goldschakal Studio

December 23, 2023: Speaking of Grace, So Many Gifts, So Many Graces
On the day of Matthew’s 83rd birthday, he continues to write about Grace. He feels deeply that “life is a grace.” The Earth and all its lifeforms is a grace. The cosmos and its two trillion galaxies is a grace. And, as Meister Eckhart said, “Nature is a grace.” Matthew expresses gratitude for the people in his life: family, friends, teachers, co-workers, students, and those with whom he has collaborated on Cosmic Masses. It is all Grace.

* Marcelo Gleiser, “Exoplanet discoveries reveal Earth’s profound rarity in the cosmos.”

**Tim Stephens, “Radioactive elements may be crucial to the habitability of rocky planets,” UC Santa Cruz News Center, November 10, 2020. 

Banner image: Earthrise “recently captured a unique view of Earth from the NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)’s vantage point in orbit around the moon.” NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr.

Recommended Reading

Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations

As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us in wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice.  This revolutionary book does just that.  Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations.  Study and practice these teachings.  Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth.

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.

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6 thoughts on “Week of 12/18-23/2023: Earth, a “Rare Gem” in the Universe, Gay Marriage, Grace”

  1. Avatar

    May God’s Spirit of LOVE~LIGHT~LIFE~PEACE~JUSTICE~HEALING~JOY~COMPASSION~ONENESS… continue growing in the hearts/Souls and lives of All our sisters and brothers, along with Our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth, All Her creatures, and Her graceful abundance… Amen

    For Christmas, I’ve bought my two young adult sons Matthew’s “In the Beginning There Was Joy: A Cosmic Celebration for Kids of All Ages.”

  2. Avatar
    Martina Nicholson MD

    Dear Fr. Matthew,
    Happy birthday, and thank you over and over for the gift of your insights, prophetic witness, and especially the shift back to Original Blessing, to help us overcome the substitutionary atonement and original sin thinking which has dominated our theology for centuries. I am glad that when my boys were little, I brought them to see you and to shake your hand, at a bookstore reading. I told them how rare it is that we get to meet a prophet and the kind of person who is a true friend of God. You have helped hold us to the true vertical axis, like a compass (!) and it matters so much! Gratefully,

  3. Avatar

    Today, Sunday, at dusk’s shapeshifting light, is the magnificent perfection of time into Between — leaving Advent, entering Christmas Eve, the moment on the very-most edge of the Cosmic Birthing.

    Step boldly into this betweening-moment.
    Celebrate the mystic-soul’s soar-flight into secret, Divinely glad-gifted awe.
    Come, rejoice into quiet rapture,
    Assent, yes to soul’s fulfillment.
    Be you now unhindered, carried love-embraced, graced with Creation, into
    the Holy One’s Being-Becoming, in
    the Divine engine-womb
    which carries forth Her Now-Christ-birth-ing of universe entire,
    unveiling in Divine Self-expression,
    Her Ultimate Self-portrait,
    a picture for no eyes.
    Sacred conceptual explosion,
    beholding in radical open un-thoughted potential
    act-ing’s prime,
    this-not-this-both-neither-all at the same time, no time, a-time, a-being,
    impossible possibilities;
    All-expressing in quivering radicality of nondual-Unity.

    Thoughts never stretch to fit the Holy One
    Who graciously shares Her caress of Immensity.
    Nevertheless, she shares
    and eagerly welcomes her children.

    Trust, throw arms wide in childlike glad-open embrace,
    and fly unhindered,
    beyond the stumblestones where mortal-crafted-thoughts fall.
    Leap now
    into Mama-God’s arms.

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