Week of 5/27-6/1/2024: Joy, Panentheism, Beholding & a New Creed

May 27, 2024: On the Origins of Joy: Who Is Our Beloved?
Recently Matthew was being interviewed by Andrew Harvey on the topic of Joy. Andrew stressed that Matthew’s teachings on panentheism bring an intimate groundedness to Joy which is so needed in this time. Matthew quoted Aquinas: “Love is the cause of joy” and “Everyone takes joy in their beloved.” Our beloved can be a person, an animal, even the Earth or our universe. Aquinas said:  Love and joy constitute the basis of all attraction—love is the origin and joy is the end result. The only person who truly has joy is one who lives in love. Are we living in love?

Who wouldn’t feel Joy upon seeing these best friends? Photo by Pankajdhiman2310. Wikimedia Commons.

May 28, 2024: The Two-Fold Detour of Christianity in the Fourth Century
Christianity took a two-fold detour in the fourth century. First, when the emperor Constantine became Christian and spread Christianity through the empire in order to make some peace between warring factions of Christians. While peacemaking is a good thing, Christianity paid a severe price when it moved from being essentially a thorn in the empire’s side to being a crusade in Christ’s name. Indigenous people especially paid a severe price by the so-called “Christian empire.” The second shadow facing Christianity was Augustine. He planted a dualistic Christianity of body vs. soul, sexuality vs. spirituality, nature vs. grace, male vs. female, along with his notion of original sin. Meanwhile, the Nicene Creed, crafted by bishops under the eye of Emperor Constantine, does show important traces of the Cosmic Christ cosmology, but astonishingly it leaves out the teachings of Jesus. There is no mention whatsoever of “love thy neighbor” or “be you compassionate” or the Beatitudes.

May 29, 2024: When Faith & Panentheism Are Actions, Not Just Beliefs or Dogmas
We are exploring the Nicene Creed and how it is a list of beliefs and dogma which ignores the teachings of Jesus. Maybe it would be better if we focused instead on our behavior, on faith in action. For instance: Love others as you love yourself; forgive; act justly; and “behold the lilies of the field.” There is so much wonder to behold. After all, God is in all things, as all things are in God. (Panentheism) Mechtild of Magdeburg said in the 13th century: the day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw—and knew I saw—all things in God and God in all things.

“Lexi and Kinsey the Hamster.” Photo by Kristen on Flickr.

May 30, 2024: Learning to Behold
How important is it to learn to behold? A lot of the Via Positiva is an exercise, a practice, in beholding. Behold a newborn baby, behold the stars, behold the flowers and the bee upon the flower, behold even the suffering of the world. Behold, behold, behold. There is a reverence to beholding, for beholding is the opposite of grabbing, seizing, owning, controlling, dominating.  (Do fascists behold?)  Beholding implies respect and awe and wonder. Great mystics know a lot about beholding. Rabbi Heschel advises us: Behold not only in order to explain, to fit what we see into our notions; behold in order to stand face to face with the beauty and grandeur of the universe. 

May 31, 2024: Heschel, Eckhart, Merton on Beholding
Rabbi Heschel invites us to “behold in order to stand face to face with the beauty and grandeur of the universe.” Meister Eckhart also calls us to behold.  He explains that “the word ‘behold’ implies three things: something great, something marvelous, or something rare.” And if, as Eckhart teaches, “every creature is a word of God and a book about God,” then there are a lot of invitations to behold. What Eckhart calls the great and marvelous and rare is everywhere.  Heschel speaks of “radical amazement” and how this cultivates a sense of the sublime. The sublime can be God or tselem (image of God) or the “Cosmic Christ” whose doxa or glory or light beams from all things. 

“Ocean encounter.” A whale surfaces beside a contemplative paddler. Photo by Howard Ignatius on Flickr.

June 1, 2024: Dorothee Soelle’s Creed in Contrast to the Nicene Creed
Because the Nicene Creed leaves out the teachings of Jesus, Matthew recommends the following creed, gifted to us by the late feminist theologian, Dorothee Soelle, who has written substantively on Meister Eckhart and on the Beguines. Here are some excerpts: I believe in god who did not create an immutable world, a thing incapable of change; I believe in god who willed conflict in life and wanted us to change the status quo–through work, through our politics; every day I am afraid that (Christ) died in vain because he is buried in our churches, because we have betrayed his revolution in our obedience to authority and our fear of it; I believe in jesus christ who rises again and again in our lives so that we will be free from prejudice and arrogance, from fear and hate, and carry on his revolution and make way for his kingdom.

Banner image: Sunset in New Zealand. Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

Recommended Reading

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

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.

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3 thoughts on “Week of 5/27-6/1/2024: Joy, Panentheism, Beholding & a New Creed”

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    May God’s Spirit of LOVE, TRUTH, PEACE, JUSTICE, HEALING, STRENGTH, TRANSFORMATION, FREEDOM, CREATIVITY, JOY, COMPASSION, DIVERSE ONENESS… continue growing in the hearts~Souls and lives of All our sisters and brothers around our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth… Amen

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