A Church Protest by Myself and Jerry Mander in the New York Times 

In yesterday’s DM, which I wrote on my Mother’s birthday, I shared a story about her response to my official silencing for a year by the Vatican.  And how she surprised me with her own church protests at 76 years of age.

The Real News Network interviews Matthew Fox on the circumstances of his being silenced with 108 other Catholic spiritual leaders.

On the eve of my silencing, I published in the New York Times a full-page ad entitled “My Final Statement Before Being Silenced by The Vatican.”  It took the inquisitorial Vatican of that era (1988) to task for turning its back on the values of Vatican II and the gospel and opposing Liberation Theology, base communities, Creation Spirituality and theological exploration in general.  It was not well received in Rome at that time. 

But others appreciated it.  Not having money to pay for it, we took a leap of faith and posted a tiny announcement at the bottom of the page to support us.  We got a discounted price by agreeing to let the newspaper publish it when they had extra space.  As it turned out, our ad collected exactly $14,300 and the cost was exactly $14,300!

Matthew Fox’s full-page ad in the New York Times before he was silenced. From Matthew Fox’s archives.

Jerry Mander, who lived in the Bay Area, approached me to run such an ad when he heard of my silencing.  He had run a series of “anti-ad ads” to wake people up about such matters as environmental degradation, the gun lobby, etc. 

He worked with David Brower and the Sierra Club promoting several ads to help save the Earth.  One of them was entitled, “Now Only You Can Save Grand Canyon From Being Flooded…For Profit” and another, in opposition to a bill proposed in Congress to “improve” the Grand Canyon by erecting two dams to make artificial lakes to benefit tourists in power boats etc.  The ad was entitled, “Should We Also Flood the Sistine Chapel So Tourists Can Get Nearer the Ceiling?” 

Mander originally designed these ads and collected them in a book in 2022 called 70 Ads to Save the World.  Other books he has published include Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television and In The Absence of the Sacred.   

One review of his book remarked that “Jerry was ahead of his time.  He foresaw the dumbing effects of mass media, the inevitable inequalities of capitalism, and the loss of what is sacred in life…The ads are clever, inspiring and funny—like Jerry himself.”  (Academy Award Winning Filmmaker, Vivienne Verdon-Roe.)*

*See Jerry Mander, 70 Ads To Save the World (Santa Fe, Synergetic Press: 2022), pp. 97f.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 186-202.

Queries for Contemplation

Jerry Mander, inspired by Marshall McLuhan, used the media to criticize the media.  Can we do likewise in today’s media incarnations?  And in opposing fascism wherever we find it including in religion?

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

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3 thoughts on “A Church Protest by Myself and Jerry Mander in the New York Times ”

  1. Avatar

    Living our best lives truthfully and lovingly, in whatever form, direction and manifestation it takes, is our best criticism of all else. We are the living media and medium of ‘Oneness’ with the rest of the world. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    Thank God for you Matthew Fox! Wish you were still in Oakland, California.. So Sorry Holy Names is closed. My husband and I were at your talk, live at Holy Names, the Day After you were able to speak.. You started with: ” When I was so rudely interrupted” You Are The Best!

  3. Avatar

    Matthew, The South American “sabbatical” year of silence was worth every minute. This time away has given your words a greater and deeper meaning. Theresa RDC

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