Matthew Fox on Creation Spirituality

CS is about recovering nature and all of creation as sacred again. It reaches back to the earliest humans who were struck with the awe of their existence in the midst of the awe of nature and it is found in the earliest writer of the Hebrew Bible (“J” source) and in the Wisdom literature of the Bible which scholars all agree was the primary influence on the historical Jesus as were the prophets who also speak often out of a CS context and message. CS holds up the archetype of the Cosmic Christ (or Buddha Nature or Image of God) as a symbol of the sacredness of all things, micro and macro. The universe itself is the ultimate sacrament therefore.

CS is found among indigenous peoples everywhere–Aboriginal teacher and activist Eddie Kneebone said that Creation Spirituality strikes him as being parallel to the “Dreamtime” of his people. Lakota teacher Buck Ghosthorse once said to me: “Do you want to know how sacred water is? Go without it for three days and nights.”

The eco collapse occurring around the world is forcing many to fast from clean water or clean air, from food too. Can this collapse awaken us to act against climate change before it is too late? CS supports eco-activists and others seeking social, racial, gender and environmental justice. It is a spirituality of passion and compassion, of moral outrage and unleashing of creativity and hope. It is the way of many mystic/prophets or contemplative activists over the centuries including but not limited to Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Julian of Norwich, Nicolas of Cusa, Thomas Merton, Dorothee Soelle, Howard Thurman, and many more.

CS is in active dialog with scientists about the new cosmology and much more. Thomas Berry writes: “An absence of a sense of the sacred is the basic flaw in many of our efforts at ecologically or environmentally adjusting our human presence to the natural world. It has been said, ‘We will not save what we do not love.’ It is also true that we will neither love nor save what we do not experience as sacred….Eventually only our sense of the sacred will save us.”*

*Thomas Berry, “Foreward,” in Kathleen Deignan, ed., Thomas Merton Writings on Nature: When the Trees Say Nothing (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2003), 18f.

Creation Spirituality in Contrast to the Dominant Religious Paradigm (Fall/Redemption Religion)

In my book Original Blessing, published in 1983, I offer a list that contrasts the two traditions of Fall/Redemption Religion and Creation Spirituality. Just recently I met a forty-something man who told me that “those four pages from your book totally changed my understanding of Christian history and they should be made available to everyone.” So I went back and re-read them. I agree. Thus I offer the contrast here in a slightly updated rendition.
Fall/Redemption Creation Spirituality
Begins with sin Begins with Dabhar, God’s Creative energy
Emphasizes original sin Emphasizes original blessing
Faith is “thinking with assent” (Augustine) Faith is trust
Patriarchal Feminist and Gender balanced
Ascetic Aesthetic
Mortification of body Discipline toward birthing
Control of passions Ecstasy, Eros, celebration of Passion
Virtue lies in the will (Augustinians) Virtue lies in the passions (Aquinas)
Passion is a curse Passion is a blessing
God as Father God as Mother, God as Child, as well as Father
Suffering is wages for sin Suffering is birth pains of universe—all beings suffer
Death is wages for sin Death is a natural event, a prelude to recycling and rebirth
Introspective in its psychology Cosmic (connecting psyche to cosmos) in its psychology
Emphasizes introvert meditation Emphasizes art as meditation (also known as extrovert meditation)
Science is unimportant Science, by teaching us about Nature, teaches us about the Creator
Dualistic (either/or) Dialectical (both/and)
Spirit is in opposition to matter Spirit and matter form a “wonderful communion” (Aquinas)
“Spirit is whatever is not matter” (Augustine) Spirit is the ‘elan” in everything (Aquinas)
Suspicious of the body and violent in its body/soul imagery: “Soul makes war with the body” (Augustine) Welcoming of body and gentle in its body/soul imagery: “soul loves the body” (Eckhart)
“Humility is to despise yourself” (Tanquerry) Humility is to befriend one’s earthiness (humus). “Holy people draw to themselves all that is earthy.” (Hildegard)
Be in control Letting go—ecstasy, breakthrough
Pessimistic Hopeful
Climbing Jacob’s Ladder Dancing Sara’s Circle
Elitist For the many, democratic
No Cosmic Christ Cosmic Christ
Emphasis on Jesus as Son of God but not Jesus as prophet Emphasis on Jesus as prophet, artist, parable-teller, wisdom figure and Son of God who calls others to their divinity
Personal salvation Salvation, healing and divinizing of people, the earth and the cosmos (theosis)
Build up church Build up Kingdom/Queendom
Kingdom = church Kingdom = cosmos, creation
Human as sinner Human as royal person who can choose to create or destroy
Time is toward the past (lost perfection) or future (heaven): unrealized eschatology Time is now and making the future (heaven) begin to happen now: realized eschatology
Eternal life is after death Eternal life is now
Contemplation is goal of spirituality Compassion, justice, and celebration are goals of spirituality
A spirituality of the powerful A spirituality of the powerless, the anawim (those without a voice)
Emphasizes the cross Considers the cross as significant for the Via Negativa, but also emphasizes the Creation, Resurrection and coming of the Spirit in co-creation
Emphasizes the cross Considers the cross as significant for the Via Negativa, but also emphasizes the Creation, Resurrection and coming of the Spirit in co-creation
Tends toward christolotry and Docetism with an underdeveloped theology of the Creator and the Holy Spirit Trinitarian in full sense of celebrating a Creator God, a prophetic Son of God, and the Holy Spirit of divine transformation
Emphasizes obedience Emphasizes creativity
Tends to abstractions Sensual
Righteousness Justice
Duty Beauty
Guilt, shame and redemption Thanks and praise
Purity from world Hospitality to all beings
Apolitical, i.e. supportive of status quo Prophetic, i.e. critical of status quo and its ideologies
Humanity is sinful Humanity is divine yet capable of demonic and sinful choices
Faith is in intellect Faith is in imagination
Suspicious of the artist Welcomes the artist since all are called to be co-creators with God
Theistic Panentheistic
My religion is the only way to God Deep Ecumenism

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: