Youth: Speaking Truth to Powerful Guardians of Education

The youth need to speak truth to power—someone has to after all.  The powerful are often tired guardians of the status quo and its mighty institutions. 

Fifty-four years ago this week, Ohio State National Guardsmen shot 13 unarmed students, killing four, during anti-war protests at Kent State University.  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Ohio” with stills from the 1960s and 1970s anti-war protests. HardRain Productions.

When one sees presidents of universities cower under questioning at congressional hearings, then rush back to their campus and call in the police to harass and beat up on their students and faculty, something is seriously amiss. And wrapping it up in sloganeering about “antisemitism” is less than truthful. 

It is for this very reason that beginning 45 years ago I turned my back on dominant academia (including its god-awful accrediting institutions): Because I sensed that one cannot teach spirituality in a Western university, where the intuitive brain is ignored and with it values get banished from education. 

When I approached accrediting institutions, I found them absolutely deaf and disinterested in truth or wisdom or alternative pedagogy.  It was all about money.   

Front door of the University of Creation Spirituality, founded by Matthew Fox in downtown Oakland, CA in 1996; closed in 2005. Photo taken from the official UCS Facebook page.

I designed a new pedagogy and started the Institute of Culture and Creation Spirituality in 1977 at Mundelein College in Chicago, then moved it to Holy Names College in Oakland, California in 1983.  After a wonderful 12 year run there, we had to move because of pressure from the all-seeing Vatican of the time.  So I opened up the University of Creation Spirituality in downtown Oakland with a doctor of ministry that focused on Work and Spirituality. 

After nine years, I started YELLAWE, an effort to reinvent education for inner city teen-agers, so many of whom were dropping out of high school.

I did not want simply to criticize academia as it was (and sad to say still is)—void of values—but to offer an alternative that would show the way to a fuller learning experience.  A way that included a search for wisdom (a feminine archetype) and not just unbridled knowledge that is soul-less, value-less and cold.

Rep. Ro Khanna discusses protests on college campuses on Face the Nation.

California congressman Ro Khanna recently appraised the current situation on campuses: We have to understand that this is a defining moment for this generation, similar to anti-Vietnam protests, anti-apartheid protests, anti-Iraq war protests.

And they’re telling us that there over 30,000 people have died. It’s time for this war to end….They want to see leadership in America and around the world. This is not the world that they want.

Is it the world any of us want?


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Postdenominational Priest, pp. 126-176.

And Fox, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human.

And Fox, “Honoring the Child Within—Youth and the Cosmic Christ” and “The Cosmic Christ and Creativity,” in Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, pp. 180-210.

Banner Image: Students for Justice in Palestine gathered at the consulate general of Israel in solidarity with the Gaza Strip. The rally, including students from Hunter College and John Jay College of the City University of New York, New York University, and St. Joseph’s College, protested Israel’s siege and occupation of the Palestinian enclave. Photo by Joe Catron on Flickr.


Queries for Contemplation

Do you see values re-entering education with the non-violent protests against the slaughter in Gaza (and the October 7 slaughter as well)?  Are the youth awakening a morally slumbering academia and America?


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 A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human

The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
An awe-based vision of educational renewal.Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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 “Youth: Speaking Truth to Powerful Guardians of Education”

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Unless the students keep ringing the alarm bell for an extended period of time, those they are attempting to awaken will simply wait it out, hitting the snooze button and then go back to sleep. Protests to these one’s, are merely a temporary irritant to the status quo.

    Unfortunately statistics suggest that protests more often, do not create the change stood up for… unless it causes major financial loss, maintained over a lengthy period of time to the institutions, shareholders, and all those involved in sustaining things as they have been. The only way to get their attention, is to touch them were they might feel something… which is in their coffers.

  2. Avatar
    Isabel Stanley

    I applaud Matthew Fox’s Creation School, but I can’t agree with him that all other higher education is “void of values.” Values were always a part of the courses I taught for 30 years in a state university. Let’s work together to make all education reflect good ethics and values.

  3. Avatar

    Yes! Yes! Students around the world are demonstrating with compassion about the genocide occurring in Gaza and for the liberation with Truth and Justice for the Palestinians. They are compassionately demonstrating and calling for All world leaders to awake from their moral slumber to do their part to help bring about a Ceasefire and Peaceful & Just negotiations in Palestine! They are expressing the sorrow we all feel as humanitarians for the suffering, deaths, destruction, and injustices in Gaza and around the world, including to Our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth and All Her Living Creatures, including Ourselves!!!

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