This unique reflection was prompted by an invitation Matthew Fox received to speak on the centennial of Thomas Merton’s birth. Fox says that much of the trouble he’s gotten into — such as being excommunicated in 1993 from the Dominican Order by Cardinal Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict) — was because of Thomas Merton, who sent Fox to Paris to complete a doctoral program in philosophy. Fox found that Merton’s journals, poetry, and religious writings revealed a deeply ecumenical philosophy and a contemplative life experience similar to that of Meister Eckhart, the fourteenth-century mystic/theologian who inspired Fox’s own “creation spirituality.” It is little surprise to find Fox and Merton to be kindred spirits, but the intersections Fox finds with Eckhart are intellectually profound, spiritually enlightening, and delightfully engaging.
Matthew Fox (born 1940) is an American Episcopal priest and theologian. He is an exponent of Creation Spirituality, a movement grounded in the mystical philosophies of medieval visionaries Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart and Nicholas of Cusa. His books have sold millions of copies and by the mid 1990s had a "huge and diverse following".
The best part about this book were the quotes from Merton and Eckhart. The worst part was Fox's constant reminder of HIMSELF and his work. Like, was it necessary to point out that you supposedly coined the word "ecumenist?" Ugh.
Through Google preview I was able to read a couple of chapters. I wouldn't have the patience to read the whole book. It is well written. I was introduced to Thomas Merton. Both Thomas Merton and Matthew Fox were influenced by Meister Eckhart. Fox says "Meister Eckhart's thought parallels Buddhist teaching in so many deep ways." I also learned a bit about Creation Spirituality according to 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.
“A Way to God inscribes a profound intersection of lives — Merton, Fox, and more — in the history of Christianity, Catholicism, and the emerging Creation Spirituality so relevant to our globe’s current cultural evolution. Perhaps Merton’s lament on the ‘lost art of listening’ can be assuaged significantly by the profound potential impacts of this new book.” — Kurt Johnson, PhD, coauthor of The Coming Interspiritual Age
“The future of Christianity itself will depend upon its ability to reinvent its forms and practices so that it might become a mutually enhancing presence within the dynamics of life. Among current spiritual theologians, no one has a more comprehensive vision of the necessary changes that must take place than Matthew Fox. In A Way to God he shows how Thomas Merton’s work can be understood as a powerful current within the Creation Spirituality tradition that is so essential for this reimagining of Western religion.” — Brian Thomas Swimme, professor of cosmology, California Institute of Integral Studies
I've always loved Matthew Fox's work for his down-to-earth theology. Interesting to explore Merton's creation spirituality issues with him. Ultimately, if we go back, past the big bang you have to ask who/what laid the Cosmic Egg...and then where did that layer come from. Of course, it can't be answered with the limitations of the human brain but Fox sort of takes you to that place of circling the Mystery. Not always easy reading.