A New Reformation


A New Reformation by Matthew FoxFull Title: A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity
Author:
Matthew Fox
Publisher: Inner Traditions (2006)
Number of Pages: 134
How long it took me to read: 3 hours
Where I bought this book: Amazon.com
ISBN: 978-1594771231

Like a Moth to a Flame

As a graduate of Fox’s University of Creation Spirituality, I have read most of his books, which are extremely well written, insightful, and passionate. His work was the first treatment of a spirituality that resounded in my heart and soul. So perhaps I’m not the best reviewer for his work…. I do try to be objective although I seldom find myself in disagreement with his theology, spirituality, passion, and politics. I was very interested in this book as Fox wrote it in response to the dysfunction of the Catholic Church—the misogynistic and homophobic practices, the paternalism and patriarchal policies, the pedophilic priests, and the cover up of thousands of cases of sexual abuse by those in higher command of the Church. Yet the book is a call to reformation of all churches, and I love reading his focus on what must be changed to make us a spirituality-based community, not a religious one.

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Favorite Five

I propose that the top 5 quotes from this book are:

5. “This book is not addressed solely to the Roman Catholic Church (which is currently mired in the deep corruption of its hierarchy, evidenced by the hypocrisy and horror of the cover-up of the priestly pedophilia and other scandals, including the canonization of a fascist admirer of Hitler). The call to Reformation is a call to Protestant churches as well.” (p.6)

4. “Patriarchy, with its commitment to war and control, fear of chaos, fear of nature, fear of body, fear of women, fear of homosexuals, fear of ‘the other,’ has ruled long enough.” (p.59)

3. “The dark night of the soul descends on us all and the proper response is not addiction, such as shopping, alcohol, drugs, TV, sex or religion, but rather to be with the darkness and learn from it.” ~Thesis 83 (p.101)

2. “This Pentecost will not be fundamentalist and will not be based on worship of a Punitive God. It will not tolerate sexism in itself or those adhering to it. It will worship a God who loves creation and expects us to do the same. It will seek wisdom along with knowledge, a true balance that avoids 1) anti-intellectualism and anti-scientism (as evidenced in the fight against evolution and homosexuality), and 2) rationalism and living and praying in the head. It will honor all the chakras, including the second or sexual chakra, for the sacred energy that can be found in them…. It will teach meditation forms of many varieties and will empower people to be mystical activists—spiritual warriors, mystics, and prophets.” (pp.54-5)

…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…

1.“This book is dedicated to my 107 (at last count) sister and brother theologians silenced and threatened under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI (formerly Cardinal Ratzinger):

“…and with deep trust that the Spirit, who always prefers biophilia (love of life) to necrophilia (love of death), and is so much vaster, more fecund, and more imaginative than any man-made forms of religion or empire, might invigorate religion with new forms and awaken spirituality, thus giving hope, promise, and adventure to the newest generations.” (dedication page)

Conversation with the Reader

While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:

“Matthew Fox was silenced and then excommunicated by the Catholic Church because of his work in Creation Spirituality—his belief of Original Blessing instead of Original Sin, his focus on embracing liberation theology and the wisdom of the Divine Feminine, and his deep ecumenism of Eastern and Western belief systems, indigenous cultures, and scientific understanding. I’m finding it easy to read through this book as it clearly presents the basics of Creation Spirituality theology and concisely argues the need to change our focus from a religious-based society to a spirituality-based society. Just as Martin Luther posted his 95 theses in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517, Fox posted his 95 theses at the same site in 2005 calling for a new reformation in Christian spirituality and an end to Christian hypocrisy. Fox’s work is often deeply intellectual, and it is good to see that this book is one that everyone can read and understand, not just those of us steeped in religion and spirituality.”

“I find the dedication, of which only a short excerpt is quoted above, is an extremely important statement as it refers to sadness, compassion, ‘holy outrage,’ and solidarity. It brings tears to my non-Catholic eyes; I cannot imagine what it must be like for both practicing and former Catholics to read this honorary tribute to those who have experienced the lack of compassion, the loss of true catholicism, and the fear of confronting the Church without experiencing repercussions. Yet the dedication also fits for all who have been denigrated by church policies and unholy actions, not just those of the Catholic faith.

“This dedication helps me to think more about the injustices I see in most churches, synagogues, and mosques, as well as in other religious institutions. It also leads me to reflect upon why I left the traditional Protestant church by the time I was thirteen, declared myself agnostic, and didn’t begin to embrace healthy, loving, compassionate spiritual practices until age thirty, when trauma and loss sent me looking for a spiritual home. Although I was always a nature mystic (my childhood is steeped in memories of the fecundity of nature—of enjoying walks in the woods with my dog and finding tadpoles in the creek, and embracing our yearly vacations to northern Michigan with the sand, pine trees, and crystal clear waters), the Protestant churches had no words to define this spiritual connection and I was left learning about sin and salvation, which led me to become a non-believer.”

“Reading the chapter, “Fundamentalists in Their Own Words,” is a frightening experience. How unbelievably sad it is that so many people, regardless of religious belief, are so terrified of the Divine Feminine, so scared of others’ divinity, and so hateful of differences, that they must oppress others. So much of religious thought is about oppression—the hatred of religious beliefs other than our own, the denigration of scientific thought, the rape of the environment, the violence towards women, and the bastardization of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender people; the list goes on and on. Can we expand our humanity to become our higher selves, our divine selves, our compassionate selves? Or is this merely a rhetorical question?”

“Of course, the main premise of the book is the 95 theses. I love the simplicity of the words, yet the profoundness of the simple statements, statements such as, ‘Religion is not necessary, but spirituality is’ [~Thesis 11 (p.65)]. Fox relates his Creation Spirituality theology through these politically-charged views—for example, Thesis 34 (p.77):

“Fascism and the compulsion to control are not the paths of peace or compassion, and those who practice fascism are not fitting models for sainthood. The seizing of the apparatus of canonization to canonize fascists is a stain on the Church.”

“During the previous Republican administrations, I had a bumper sticker on my car which stated, ‘When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag carrying a cross.’ I continue to see signs of fascism in this country, so I am fascinated learning from Fox’s perspective about the canonization of a fascist.

“Fox continues focusing on our economical, environmental, humanistic, and creative needs. He also does this in a sometimes irreverent manner; for example, Thesis 70 (p.96):

“Jesus said nothing about condoms, birth control, or homosexuality.”

“I am emboldened by his directness, his passion, his often political-incorrectness which is so ever present and allows him to speak his truth without caring about the censorship of the Church. His passion fuels my drive for transformation, healing, and justice making. I hope this work does the same for other readers on a spiritual path.”

2 Comments

  1. Carol A. says:

    LIA,
    I’ll eventually have a review of “The Pope’s War,” by Matthew Fox, which you may also enjoy.

  2. LIA says:

    What a great review ! Can’t wait to get my hands on this book – especially as a ‘born and raised’ Catholic, always looking for the Truth.

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