About Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox (b. 1940) is an internationally acclaimed spiritual theologian, Episcopal priest, and activist who was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years. He holds a doctorate, summa cum laude, in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris and has devoted 45 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality, which is rooted in ancient Judeo-Christian teaching, inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions; welcoming of the arts and artists; wisdom centered, prophetic, and committed to eco-justice, social justice and gender justice.
Fox has reinvented forms of education and worship and awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West, revivifying awareness of Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas, and Thomas Merton, among other premodern and post-modern spiritual pioneers. He has authored more than 35 books on spirituality and contemporary culture, among them: Original Blessing, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, The Reinvention of Work, A Spirituality Named Compassion and Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times. His books, celebrated around the world, have been translated into 73 languages.
A New Vision of Pedagogy
Seeking to establish a new pedagogy for learning spirituality melding the ancient Western wisdom tradition with contemporary scientists and modern mystics, Fox founded the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality that operated for seven years at Mundelein College in Chicago and twelve years at Holy Names College in Oakland. Key to the pedagogy is combining left brain or intellectual work and seminars with right brain or contemplative practices including art as meditation.
For ten of those years at Holy Names College, Cardinal Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict XVI – tried to shut the program down. As chief Inquisitor and head of the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith (called the Office of the Holy Inquisition until 1965), Ratzinger silenced Fox for one year in 1989 and forced him to step down as director. Three years later he expelled Fox from the Order, thus terminating the program at Holy Names College.
Fox went on to establish the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, CA, where it thrived for nine years and closed in 2007. Fox has since taught at Stanford University, Vancouver School of Theology, Association for Transpersonal Psychology, the California Institute of Integral Studies, Schumacher College, the Findhorn Foundation, and the Omega Institute, among other places.
Fox believes that “by reinventing work, education and worship we can bring about a non-violent revolution on our planet” and has committed himself to this vision for many years. His 2006 book, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human, he lays out the elements of an educational revolution for young people that is based on his 40 years of educating adults with an alternative pedagogy based on cosmology, creativity and contemplation. Fox implemented this pedagogy in a project for inner city teenagers in Oakland called YELLAWE: “Youth and Elder Learning Laboratory for Ancestral Wisdom Education,” with the goal of reinventing education from the inner city out. An offshoot from this project known as The Chicago Wisdom Project” has since taken root in Chicago.
New vision of Rituals
In a conscious effort to reinvigorate Western ritual, Fox deconstructed forms of worship inherited from the modern era (such as sitting in benches and being read to, preached at or reading from books including song books) and reconstructed these forms of worship by going back to the pre-modern practice of dance and post-modern art forms. The result, called The Cosmic Mass, mixes dance, techno and live music, dj, vj, rap and contemporary art forms with the western liturgical tradition, and has been celebrated over 100 times in many cities across North America. The Cosmic Mass was celebrated at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City in 2015 and in Toronto in 2018 with the theme of “Our Sacred Earth.” The Cosmic Mass was celebrated in 2018 at the Washington National Cathedral with a theme of “Healing Racism.” [www.thecosmicmass.com]
Recently, Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco have collaborated to create the Stations of the Cosmic Christ which is an alternative approach to the traditional Stations of the Cross, replacing the fall-redemption perspective with a cosmology that transcends doctrinal differences.
His recent book Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful & Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God also provides a practice that carries people deep and, as one scientist commented, “blows the top of one’s head off.”
Order of the Sacred Earth
More recently Fox, along with Skylar Wilson and Jennifer Listug, launched a new “intergenerational vision of love and action” called the Order of the Sacred Earth. Together they authored a book Order of the Sacred Earth which proposes a new spiritual (not religious) order that invites all people of varied belief systems (or non-belief systems) into a community and movement who share one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.” Currently about 45 “pods” or communities exist around North and South America with about 1500 people participating. [www.orderofthesacredearth.org]
A new vision in Activism: The 95 Theses
In 2005, when Cardinal Ratzinger was made pope, Fox went to Martin Luther’s church in Wittenberg, Germany and pounded 95 contemporary theses at the door to call people to a New Reformation. Six years later, after documenting 30 years of Vatican corruption in the reigns of John Paul II and Benedict VI in The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled The Church And How It Can Be Saved, Fox repeated his protest, nailing his 95 Theses outside of the Roman basilica of Cardinal Law, who covered up sexual abuses committed by more than 90 priests in his archdiocese.
Fox has continued to bear witness to the abuses of the Vatican, most recently supporting the Indigenous nations of California in protesting the canonization of conquistador-priest Junipero Serra.
Fox is a recipient of the Abbey Courage of Conscience Peace Award (other recipients include the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Ernesto Cardenal, Maya Angelous and Rosa Parks); the Ghandi King Ikeda Award; the Tikkun National Ethics Award; the Sufi International Peace Award and other awards. His work has been honored by theologians, artists, healers and thought leaders around the world.
He has been interviewed in print and broadcast media including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, Yoga Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, New Age Journal, Utne Reader, Spirituality and Health, Tikkun, Science of Mind, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, Washington Post, National Catholic Reporter, The Independent (London), The Guardian, YES! Magazine, and Caduceus Journal, as well as The Today Show, Democracy Underground, The Young Turks, the BBC and Brazilian, Canadian and Italian television.
He has been ranked among Watkins’ Mind-Body-Spirit Magazine’s Top 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in 2013 (#25), 2014 (#26), 2015 (#14), 2016 (#11) and 2018 (#25). Fox is currently a visiting scholar at the Academy for the Love of Learning located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.