Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Fox’


 

“The very best and utmost of attainment in this life is to remain still and let God act and speak in you.”

Meister Eckhart

As we enter another time of contemplation for interior growth lived out exteriorly in love I saw this quote on Rev. Matthew Fox’s Facebook page and thought it appropriate to open with. For it is the work on ourselves, what my other books have dubbed soul work, that is the most important work you will ever do, for it opens yourself up fully to the one-ness with the source of love which already abides.

Take time to set a place where you can respite, and listen deeply with your heart. If a candle helps you focus, feel free to light one, or many. Get comfortable in a sitting position. Breathe in peace and exhale love.

Feel the room around you melt away.

Hear the animals sold for sacrifices, the kids and women in segregation within their house of worship.

Listen to the religious oppressors as the mumble amongst themselves, and those deemed unworthy as they feel love for the first time.

Know what it is like to see the neighbour boy. Perhaps you were one of the other village mother’s that changed and cared for him. Perhaps you were one of his friends or bullies in boyhood. Watch in awe and anger as he takes a place of honour as a teaching elder to the community.

A place in which many try to put aside the child born into scandal. Mary’s bastard as some would say. Perhaps the offspring of a Roman, but not Joseph’s.

Be here and now as you hear these words 3 times.

The first hearing:

Chapter 121

The Christines are in Nazareth. Miriam sings a Christine song of praise. Jesus teaches in the synagogue. He heals a dumb man who is obsessed. The people do not believe in him. The Pharisees call him a tool of Beelzebul. The Christines go to Cana.

1. It was a gala day in Nazareth. The people there had met with one accord to celebrate some great event.
2. And Jesus and the foreign masters and the twelve, and Mary, mother of the Lord, and Miriam were there.
3. And when the people were assembled in the great hall of the town, the graceful singer, Miriam, stood and sang a song of praise.
4. But few of all the multitude knew who the singer was; but instantly she won all hearts.
5. For many days she sang the songs of Israel, and then she went her way.
6. The Sabbath came and Jesus went into the synagogue. He took the book of Psalms and read:
7. Blest is the man who puts his trust in God, respecting not the proud nor such as turn aside to lies.
8. O lord, my God, the works that thou hast done for us are wonderful; and many are thy thoughts for us; we cannot count them all,
9. Thou dost not call for sacrifice, nor offerings of blood; burnt offerings and offerings for sin thou dost not want;
10. And lo, I come to do thy will, O God, thy law is in my heart,
11. And I have preached the word of righteousness and peace unto the thronging multitudes; I have declared the counsel of my God in full.
12. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and grace.
13. I have not kept thy loving-kindness and thy truth away from men; I have declared them to the multitudes.
14. O Lord, make wide my lips that I may tell thy praise; I do not bring the sacrifice of blood, nor yet burnt offerings for sin.
15. The sacrifices I would bring to thee, O God, are purity in life, a contrite heart, a spirit full of faith and love, and these thou wilt receive.
16. And when he had thus read, he gave the book back to the keeper of the books, and then he said,
17. Upon these ends of earth these messages of God have come.
18. Our people have exalted sacrificial rites and have neglected mercy, justice and the rights of men.
19. You Pharisees, you priests, you scribes, your God surfeited with blood; God does not heed your prayers; you stand before your burning victims; but you stand in vain.
20. Turn you unto the testimonies of the law; reform and turn to God, and you shall live.
21. Let not your altars be accursed again with smoke of innocence.
22. Bring unto God as sacrifice a broken and a contrite heart.
23. Lift from your fellow men the burdens that you have imposed.
24. And if you hearken not, and if you turn not from your evil ways, lo, God will smite this nation with a curse.
25. And when he had thus said he stood aside, and all the people were astonished, and they said,
26. Where did this man get all his knowledge and his power? From whence did all this wisdom come?
27. Is not this Mary’s son, whose home is out on Marmion Way?
28. Are not his brothers, Jude and James and Simon, known among our honoured men? Are not his sisters with us here?
29. But they were all offended by the words he spoke.
30. And Jesus said, A prophet has no honour in his native land; he is not well received among his kin; his foes are in his home.
31. And Jesus wrought not many mighty works in Nazareth, because the people had no faith in him. He did not tarry long.
32. But as he passed from thence two blind men followed him and cried, Thou son of David, hear! Have mercy, Lord, and open up our eyes that we may see.
33. And Jesus said, Do you believe that I can open up your eyes and make you see?
34. They said, Yea, Lord, we know that if you speak the Word then we can see.
35. And Jesus touched their eyes and spoke the Word; he said, According to your faith so will it be.
36. And they were blest; they opened up their eyes and saw.
37. And Jesus said, Tell not this thing to any one.
38. But they went forth and told the news through all the land.
39. As Jesus walked along the way a man who was obsessed, and who was dumb, was brought to him.
40. And Jesus spoke the Word; the unclean spirit came out of the man; his tongue was loosed; he spoke; he said, Praise God.
41. The people were amazed; They said, This is a mighty deed; we never saw that done before.
42. The Pharisees were also much amazed; but they cried out and said,
43. You men of Israel, take heed; this Jesus is a tool of Beelzebul; he heals the sick and casts the spirits out in Satan’s name.
44. But Jesus answered not; he went his way.
45. And with the foreign masters and the twelve he went up to the town where he once turned the water into wine, and tarried certain days.

-The Aquarian Gospel

Reflect on a time when you were like a Pharisee in your own life. Yes that is right: Your own life. A moment when you questioned how could you possibly do this? Weren’t you simply (fill in your world’s stereotype for whom you are or where you are from?). Sit with this memory. Do you see the Pharisee falsehood within? Feel the freedom of release of these chains.

Move into the second hearing:

The Aquarian Gospel 121: 1-45

 

Reflect on a moment when you questioned your own achievements. Sit with a particular memory that resonates. That voice of question, that is like the Pharisee seeing the miracle and saying that it is of evil.  When is achievement sourced in love an act of evil? What do you see revealed in the questioning voice within your own achievement? What is the name of your Pharisee? Understand this Pharisee has served you in life, but it is now time, as like Brother Jesus, to walk away and release.  Are you ready to step into the new life and silence the Pharisee within?

Move into the third and final hearing:

The Aquarian Gospel 121: 1-45

 

Miriam living into love and out of her gifting created joy in her world. Rest in a time when using your gifts this happened in your life?

As yourself, what would it take to create a life built upon living into and out of Joy?

Are you able to? Willing to? Take the step into faith and be healed from the Pharisee into the life of Joy and true voice of yours?

Feel your breath return to normal.

Feel the meeting house melt away. Sounds and smells vanish.

Feel your room return around you. Get used to the existing smells and sounds.

Feel your chair form around you.

Relax into the joy you are meant to live.

Feel your true voice strong within you.

Are you ready to speak your true self to the world?

More importantly,

Are you ready to speak your true self to yourself?

 

 


It appears as a mundane question, but it is not a broad scope question, but rather to a narrow cultural attache I ask it. It is directed at the Western Christian Empire, that is learning humility through such humblings as the end of colonialism; multi-culturalism; human rights spread out well equally among humans if you will. To name but a few, but there is still the hangar ons, and at least in mass media there is the appearance that the “Religious Right”- those fundamentalist ideologues are easier at replenishing their vocal ranks than the progressive Christian-Historical Jesus-Liberation Theology-Social Gospel-Creation Spirituality-Wisdom school types.

Most notably I could be a prime case example as to why, simply after years of fighting, simply deciding screw this, and moving into a more universalist setting for spiritual growth. Yet, like those who speak of losing their spirituality as inherent to their culture, their is something about us muckety-mucks who harken back to the United Kingdom for our ancestry that has something tied into Christendom.

But as John Dominic Crossan wrote in his 2014 work How to Read the Bible and Still be a Christian we are not biblians, rather our name implies a tie to the humble labourer born in scandal and under threat of death, who for his non-violent resistance would be put to death (yes it was non-violent, as in the same work Crossan apptly points out if there was a threat of violence from Jesus’ crew they all would have been crucified).

Their is something about this master teacher that simply resonates in the soul. A Cosmic Christ that connects us all through the Holy Breath (cosmic dust) that gave us all life. Yet with knowing that it is love that we live in and out of, their is a deeper resonance to bring this lens to the stories that are apart of our journey. Those we told around campfires before the expansion of the labourer’s story, and those that are told after, but in the midst is a love of the story of the simple Jewish labourer that radically loved, and shook the empire to its core. So scared the powers that be they attempted to silence it by murdering him. Yet those that no one saw as people, the women, discovered through love the truth, that what made Brother Jesus such a lover of all, existed within us all, and stepping into and out of the tomb the darkness held no power over them to proclaim that love of self, Creator and others, all interconnected.

Or as another progressive voice, who recently suffered a stroke, Bishop John Shelby Spong has relayed that resonates, “I am a believer who knows and loves the Bible deeply. But I also recognize that parts of it have been used to undergird prejudices and to mask violence,”

Yes the story has been abused, power has been co-opted, and the book has blood on its covers. But that is not the story of Brother Jesus and the group, it is not the story of those who truly walk in the wisdom of old.

But the ability to communicate that outwards. The love, the joy, that this story bonds one too…those that know and lives this are aging, and the questions remains…whom shall continue?


I realize that there is a lack of vocal communities of this type in my home city, or is it simply they are flying under the radar. If you know of one in Calgary please let me know, if not, then I will continue my own contemplation upon direction.

What follows is from: http://www.matthewfox.org/what-is-creation-spirituality/

 

WHAT IS CREATION SPIRITUALITY?

Honoring all of creation as Original Blessing,Creation Spirituality integrates the wisdom of Eastern and Western spirituality and global indigenous cultures, with the emerging scientific understanding of the universe,and the passion of creativity. It is both a tradition and a movement, celebrated by mystics and agents of social change from every age and culture.It is also the tradition of the historical Jesus himself since it is the wisdom tradition of Israel.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 –Matthew Fox


PRINCIPLES

1)The universe is fundamentally a blessing.
Our relationship with the Universe fills us with awe.

2) In Creation, God is both immanent and transcendent. This is panentheism which is not theism (God out there) and not atheism (no God anywhere).
We experience that the Divine is in all things & all things are in the Divine.

3) God is as much Mother as Father, as much Child as Parent, as much God in mystery as the God in history, as much beyond all words and images as in all forms and beings.
We are liberated from the need to cling to God in one form or one literal name.

4) In our lives, it is through the work of spiritual practice that we find our deep and true selves.
Through the arts of meditation and silence we cultivate a clarity of mind and move beyond fear into compassion and community.

5)  Our inner work can be understood as a four-fold journey involving:
– awe, delight, amazement (known as the Via Positiva)
– uncertainty, darkness, suffering, letting go (Via Negativa)
– birthing, creativity, passion (Via Creativa)
– justice, healing, celebration (Via Transformativa)

We weave through these paths like a spiral danced, not a ladder climbed.

6)  Every one of us is a mystic.
We can enter the mystical as much through beauty (Via Positiva) as through contemplation and suffering (Via Negativa). We are born full of wonder and can recover it at any age.

7) Every one of us is an artist.
Whatever the expression of our creativity, it is our prayer and praise (Via Creativa).

8) Every one of us is a prophet.
Our prophetic work is to interfere with all forms of injustice and that which interrupts authentic life (Via Transformativa).

9) Diversity is the nature of the Universe.
We rejoice in and courageously honor the rich diversity within the Cosmos and expressed among individuals and across multiple cultures, religions and ancestral traditions.

10) The basic work of God is compassion and we, who are all original blessings and sons and daughters of the Divine, are called to compassion.
We acknowledge our shared interdependence; we rejoice at one another’s joys and grieve at one another’s sorrows and labor to heal the causes of those sorrows.

11) There are many wells of faith and knowledge drawing from one underground river of Divine wisdom. The practice of honoring, learning and celebrating the wisdom collected from these wells is Deep Ecumenism.
We respect and embrace the wisdom and oneness that arises from the diverse wells of all the sacred traditions of the world.

12) Ecological justice is essential for the sustainability of life on Earth.
Ecology is the local expression of cosmology and so we commit to live in light of this value: to pass on the beauty and health of Creation to future generations.


The Theotokos of Vladimir, one of the most ven...

The Theotokos of Vladimir, one of the most venerated of Orthodox Christian icons of the Virgin Mary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is actually quite funny, the family has been a part of the UU for roughly a month, yet how many people have reacted so shockingly like we have left our brains at the door step or are about to lose our souls. Really people? Think this through, of those who have known me, how many of you could honestly state that I was not a Christian Universalist my whole life?

Think it through, doctrines did not bind me. As a wee babe I was baptized Anglican in a Roman Catholic School gymnasium, went to the C.M.A. Pre-School in my neighbourhood with my Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Mormon friends…then was part of an ecumenical Vacation Bible school that was PCC/ELCIC/Mennonite/Evangelical yet was simply focused on sharing Christ’s love or my love of ancient pantheonic religions and Grail lore.

Yet that did not tip you off that I would not be willing to be label-less in life? What about upon the end of my ability to attend VBS I began a seeking of the sacred like none other. Still firmly rooted in belief of the Creator (Love) incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth, but one that would take me through many Eastern Philosophies in my Junior and Senior High School years (and certificate at SAIT) readings in Hinduism, Sikhism, Zen and many forms of Buddhism. As well as Eastern Orthodox Christianity, some loose affiliation with a Lutheran youth group in high school, not to mention the Masons for a short time of reading, historic Celtic Lore and Norse Lore, ancient earth traditions and pantheons, studied and for a time bequeathed as a Druidery Priest or some such…

Yet none of this foretold others that I would be able to then suddenly “meet Jesus” in the conservative sense and become so exclusionary that I would be able to state that this is the only way to come to the Holy Mystery?

Or university life that saw me explores and embraces the social sciences, great philosophers, along with my belief in Jesus. Yes I was firmly rooted as a children’s and youth worker in the United Church of Canada in Calgary, but I was also firmly rooted in understanding the way humanity comes to a compassionate existence. My spiritual formation texts were one’s written by Plato, Aristotle, Spong, Dalai Lama, Tutu, Michael Talbot and John Paul II.

The striving into the realm of political science to be exposed to the ruminations within socialism, communism, and liberalism to see it shine through in the many human rights and peace movements. Answering a call to transform this world, to create the reign of the creator here on earth.

Transformational work learning my theology through a restoration movement school (Alberta Bible College) and an Alliance-Nazarene seminary (Canadian Theological Seminary) while continuing my exploration of the Baha’i, Roman Catholicism (where I embrace the idea of Purgatory, the moment of death from this life where whatever has kept us away from full embrace from the Holy is purged away), classic evangelicalism, the Labour Church movement, my Franciscan formation (ecumenical, Anglican, and Catholic). Deep formation in many Christian traditions of this time including Presbyterianism, Anglicanism, Disciples of Christ, and Lutheranism along with Catholicism during this time.

Earning a doctorate of holistic psychology that allowed me to overlay the ideal of a lifespan development over my sacred texts and enter deeper into the story. During this time adding the Jesus Seminar academics, Matthew Fox, training as a Shaman and the New Thought movement to my reading and studying sphere.

Can all these things be blurring lines on actual time frames, but that is what happens when one strives to live a holistic life of compassion. Labels fade. The focus becomes on the ability to live into one’s vocational call and aid others into living their vocational call. This is the true essence of what my spiritual self is living.

So many have been shocked, yet these are the same that sit in on Bible Studies, or have taken classes from me, or be protégés, they have heard my statements that hell does not exist, or that a loving God would not turn anyone away. Yet when the facade is finally dropped, and the societal label of Universalist is adopted, it is like a leper has been found outside of their colony in the ancient times.

There are many wells available to drink from the River of the Holy Mystery. It is not about proving our “religion” right and another wrong. It is accepting that each well allows someone else to drink deeply of the Holy and that is okay. There are beautiful differences within our diversity of belief, yet there is an even greater beauty when we are united as one people, one species, trying to transform our world for the better each claiming our own soul inspiration for our actions.

So has anything truly changed about who I am or what I believe? No. If you think something has, then perhaps you never truly understood my journey up until now, but that’s okay, come along for where it goes from here, for within the Holy Mystery life truly is a blessed mystery.


Post-sectarian? Where did that word come from? Well, it could just as easily read post-denominational but didn’t want to rip off Matthew Fox too much. It truly isn’t as brutal as his journey from the Roman Catholic Church to the Episcopal Church, but it has given me pause to think and reflect on discernment.

After leaving the TSSF/OEF and fellowship with the OFS I reflect on the desire for the monastic life.  But what is the secular monastic life? It is the rule of life ministry that leads into discipline within a supportive community to discover the living (Cosmic) Christ.

So as I sit and pray/meditate I look within to seek the will of the Holy Mystery. Am I called to be an Ecumenical or Anglican or Catholic Secular Franciscan? Am I called to another order where my only fellowship unless I travelled many miles is online?

None of the above. For a realization that has crept into my soul is simple, the vocation is there regardless of the titles, and yes the community is forming. Something new has emerged on the horizon, that is why it is post-sectarian (denominational) because this call to be a monastic within the community is to be lived within my ecclecticness.

English: Flag of the Anglican Communion

English: Flag of the Anglican Communion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Bishop John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Diocese of...

Bishop John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Diocese of Newark, speaking during CrossWalk America 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is interesting the stories being brought into my sphere during this time of sabbatical and discernment.  Two books stick out due to their recency, Karen Armstrong’s (2005) The Spiral Staircase and W. Paul Jones (2001) A Table in the Desert: Making Space Holy as to spiritual memoirs that speak to transformation within life’s journey and vocation. For Armstrong it was the journey out of the convent into the world, from a young woman who felt she was meant to be a Nun, to the struggles of a young woman in the world blessed with epilepsy and finding her path and voice away from institutional God to some would say a more mystical God. For Jones’ it was growing up as a Protestant becoming a minister in the United Methodist Church, but then having a vocational change to a catholic priest, but more specifically into a Trappist Monk and living as a hermit within the Ozark Mountains. This new vocation had him re-examine the reality of not only the church but the world within a post-Vatican II Catholicism, and Christendom.

One writer running from the institution, the other leaving a strain of protest for the institution originally protested, but finding freedom within them.  It is the story of pilgrimage for the one within the interior castle or to the Heart of the Sacred (which I must admit I wrote a fairly decent book, and led retreats on).  But why the serendipitous turn to have these works appears within my life now?

During times of discernment whether intentional or unintentional I find that the stories of other believers give encouragement and guidance. When I elected to step away from formal orders within the United Church of Canada one of the guiding decisions was reading John Shelby Spong’s (2000) Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love, and Equality.  While I wrestled with the decision to re-enter academia and change the direction of my vocation at this juncture came from picking up Matthew Fox’s (1996) Confessions: The Making of a Post Denominational Priest and 2012’s The Pope’s War which spoke to a need for ongoing transformation.

So why do I share this with you as the impact memoir can have on one’s spiritual journey. This is something our brothers and sisters within the evangelical and Pentecostal movements have understood with their sharing of testimonies. The challenge as we continue to move forward is what Jones’ put forward in his work of surrendering the material. Jones shares a story of clearing out his files of published works to be a freeing work as he felt it was a release of ego.

This is one of the challenges even within vows of simplicity for the simple fact that our ego’s become one of the hardest things to simplify. But let us spend time to reflect on this for a moment, what a spiritual challenge for an individual active in journeying with individuals and communities to be able to earn accolades and sales but not track or worry about any of it? This is counter intuitive to our social media, me driven culture. Could this be why there appears to be a renewal of mysticism and/or monasticism within the Christianities today?

Would you be willing to surrender your titles, degrees, accolades, etc. to pursue your vocational calling within Christ?

 


The answer is…

NEITHER

As much as I would like to sit here and say that the Conservative or fundamentalist Christianities were dying and at death’s door…they are not.

Nor can one stipulate that the liberal branches are.

This is the sticky point as some will say, surely you jest writer, just look at the numbers of people leaving in droves, the building sell off, congregation closings…except that is the traditional-conservative-fundamentalit structures that the new inclusive Christianities are stepping out of.

You see, the buildings may go away, traditional style congregations and positions may fade… yet there is a movement of faithful through works, through devotion to fellowship and through syncronicity of faith, holy stories and called to vocation and learnings… that are not quantifiable by any stretch of the imagination.

So unfortunately to the screaming headlines, and butts in pew counters out there, neither of broad tents of the Christianities will go away… why?

Like all other forms of spirituality, ideology, and religion… each of the veins of Christianities draws different individuals into the Holy Mystery.

The question shouldn’t be who the winner will be…

The question needs to be… how do we work together to create the just reign of God here on Earth that Christ called us too in the Gospels?