What is Spirituality? – Dr. Matthew Fox [upated April 24]

Dr. Matthew Fox: The Stanford Lectures: An Immersion in Creation Spirituality

What is the Creation Spirituality lineage and Why does it strike fear in the hearts of Inquisitors and Fundamentalists?

What does it mean to be Spiritual and adult in the 21st century?

What is the future of spirituality, religion and interfaith in our time?


1) Creation Spirituality: The Alternative Spiritual Tradition of the West

2) Creation Spirituality and Indigenous Consciousness

3) Science and Creation Spirituality

4) Darkness, Silence, Mysticism and Chaos Theory

5) Creativity!

6) Pre-modern Mystics of our Post-modern Times

7) Time for a New Reformation?

8) Reinventing Education and Ritual

9) Deep Ecumenism and Interfaith

Original Blessing (Lecture 1, Topic 2)

Four Paths of Creation Spirituality (Lecture 1, Topic 4)



Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet – Dr. Matthew Fox

Table of Contents

I. Who Are We as a Species?

II. Creativity, Our True Nature

III. Where does Creativity Come From?

IV. What Happens When the Creative Spirit and We Co-Create

V. Adam and Prometheus, Creativity and the Christ: Is Original Sin the Refusal to Create and is Redemption the Liberation of Creativity?

VI. Revisioning Easter and Pentecost: Rolling Away the Obstacles to Creativity so that the Spirit of Creativity Can Resurrect

VII. Tapping into the Creative Spirit: Finding, Honoring and Practicing Creativity

VIII. Where Do We Go from Here? Putting Creativity to Work in Culture and Everyday Life

Conclusion: The Coming Dawn: The Hope that Creativity Brings

Excerpt from the Preface

This Book arose from a request from my publisher who heard me speak on the subject of “The Divine Artist Within” at the Unity Church of New York in New York City in June, 2000. Some thoughts offered here also developed from a talk I was invited to give at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1993. I am grateful for the invitation to expand these talks, for in the process of writing this book I feel I have deepened my love and understanding of creativity. I do not know any area of human potential more important if we are to be a sustainable species again. Creativity, when all is said and done, may be the best thing our species has going for it. It is also the most dangerous.

In this book I end up re-constructing Christianity and Culture around the number one survival issue of our time: the sustainability achieved when creativity is honored and practiced not for its own sake but for justice and compassion’s sake. This is the way of the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Creativity and Compassion. And who was present hovering over the waters at the beginning of Creation and is present still at the continuance of creation (Aboriginals call this the “Dreamtime”) and who is present in the mind of the artist at work-which is each of us. And is the presence that melts the tower of Babel, that is, the divisions between cultures, religions and peoples.

May our species be resurrected and awakened by the Spirit of Creativity for this coming century. May we be ennobled to carry on the next stage of our evolution. May this book make a modest contribution to that effort.

– Dr. Mathew Fox

The Virgin Birth – Dr. Matthew Fox [updated]

Dr. Matthew Fox: The Stanford Lectures: An Immersion in Creation Spirituality

How Jesus and the Christ Are Different

The Cosmic Christ

About Matthew Fox

“Matthew Fox might well be the most creative, the most comprehensive, surely the most challenging religious-spiritual teacher in America. He has the scholarship, the imagination, the courage, the writing skill to fulfill this role at a time when the more official Christian theological traditions are having difficulty in establishing any vital contact with either the spiritual possibilities of the present or with their own most creative spiritual traditions of the past.

Here he has given us abundant selections from the spiritual literature of the Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and the indigenous peoples of Africa and America to illuminate our understanding of Creation, the Divine, the Human experience of the Divine, and our way in to the future. Out of these sources, and with reference to discovery of an emergent universe by contemporary science, he has, it seems, created a new mythic context for leading us out of our contemporary religious and spiritual confusion into a new clarity of mind and peace of soul, by affirming rather than abandoning any of our traditional beliefs.”

Thomas Berry, author of The Great Work, The Dream of the Earth and The Universe Story, wrote the above as comment on Matthew Fox’s book One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths.

A Brief Biography

Matthew Fox is author of 28 books including Original Blessing; The Reinvention of Work; Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet; One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths; A Spirituality Named Compassion; A New Reformation!; The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human. He was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years. He holds a doctorate (received summa cum laude) in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris.

Seeking to establish a pedagogy that was friendly to learning spirituality, he established an 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. For ten of those years at Holy Names College Cardinal Ratzinger, as chief Inquisitor and head of the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith (called the Office of the Holy Inquisition until 1965), tried to shut the program down. Ratzinger silenced Fox for one year in 1988 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.

Rather than disband his amazing and ecumenical faculty, Fox started his own University called University of Creation Spirituality where it thrived for nine years and closed in 2007. Fox has taught at Stanford University, Vancouver School of Theology, Association for Transpersonal Psychology, California Institute of Integral Studies among other places. He is currently scholar in residence with the Academy for the Love of Learning headquartered in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Matthew Fox has been renewing the ancient tradition of Creation Spirituality that was named for him by his mentor, the late Father Marie Dominic Chenu, o.p., in his studies in Paris. This tradition is feminist, welcoming of the arts and artists, wisdom centered, prophetic and committed to eco-justice, social justice and gender justice. Fox’s effort to reawaken the West to its own mystical tradition has included revivifying awareness of Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, the mysticism of Thomas Aquinas and the Cosmic Christ tradition as well as interacting with contemporary scientists who are also mystics. He has authored two books with British biologist Rupert Sheldrake. He has worked closely with Native American leaders such as Buck Ghosthorse and is currently working on a DVD and book project on “Mysticism East and West” with Lama Tsomo, a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and teacher.

Fox is a well received lecturer who has spoken at many professional and community gatherings on many continents and in many countries around the world. Fox’s books have received numerous awards and he is recipient of the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award of which other recipients have included the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou. He is also a recipient of the Ghandi-King-Ikeda Award from Morehouse College International Chapel that is awarded for dedication to peace, unity, non-violence and justice. He has led a renewal of liturgical forms with “The Cosmic Mass” that mixes dance, techno and live music, dj, vj, rap and contemporary art forms with the western liturgical tradition. Many people have been trained in celebrating these post-modern forms of worship. Canadian television filmed the Mass and ran it on prime time and 800,000 persons saw the presentation.

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 book published in 2006 is called The A.W.E. Project: An Educational Transformation for Post-Modern Times. It lays out the elements of an educational revolution for young people that is based on his 30 years of educating adults with an alternative pedagogy based on cosmology, creativity and contemplation.

A young rapper and video artist named Professor Pitt has rendered basic ideas of that book in a rap video that accompanies the book. Fox is currently working with Ted Richards in Chicago and Jason Sawyer in Oakland on a project for inner city teenagers called YELLAWE: “Youth and Elder Learning Laboratory for Ancestral Wisdom Education.” This program operated for two years in conjunction with Oasis Charter School in Oakland, California has succeeded in interesting students in learning and staying in school and in expressing their creativity around the topics they feel most passionately about. The large goal of YELLAWE is to reinvent education from the inner city out. Fox resides in Oakland, California.

Media Exposure for Matthew Fox has included the following: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, Yoga Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, Capitol Times, New Age Journal, Utne Reader, Spirituality and Health, Tikkun, Science of Mind, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, San Francisco Weekly, East Bay Times, Washington Post, National Catholic Reporter, Resurgence, The Tablet, The Independent (London), The Guardian, YES! Magazine, Caduceus Journal and the Today Show with Bryant Gumbel; BBC and Canadian television.

Toward a Broader Understanding of the Functions of Religion

Philip Goldberg
Spiritual counselor, Interfaith Minister, and author

We tend to equate religion with belief systems, and to think of religious people as individuals who believe in, or have faith in, a particular set of doctrinal principles. But defining religion in that way severely restricts our understanding of what religion is — or can be, at any rate — in the lives of individuals. It also distorts the conversation about religion. By expanding and deepening the way we frame the subject, we can examine religious institutions and spiritual phenomena in a more productive way. Here’s a model I find useful.

As I see it, religion in its most complete form serves five basic functions. I’ve given each of these a name beginning with the prefix “trans-“, which means “across,” “through,” or “beyond,” because religion at its best crosses boundaries and points to realities beyond the ordinary. Those five functions are:

1. Transmission: to impart to each generation a sense of identity through shared customs, rituals, stories, and historical continuity.

2. Translation: to help individuals interpret life events, acquire a sense of meaning and purpose, and understand their relationship to a larger whole (in both the social and cosmic senses).

3. Transaction: to create and sustain healthy communities and provide guidelines for moral behavior and ethical relationships.

4. Transformation: to foster maturation and ongoing growth, helping people to become more fulfilled and more complete.

5. Transcendence: to satisfy the longing to expand the perceived boundaries of the self, become more aware of the sacred aspect of life, and experience union with the ultimate ground of Being.

Among other things, the functional view helps explain why people choose to stay involved with a religion even when they don’t fully approve of the institutions they belong to and don’t believe all of their traditions’ truth claims. Staying religiously engaged connects them to both an ancient heritage and a living community; helps them comprehend at least some of the mysteries of existence; and gives them some guidelines to live by.

That applies mainly to the first three functions, which are the ones we tend to think about when we talk about religion. But adding the other two functions to the discussion expands the perspective radically. It also explains a great deal about contemporary spirituality.

For better and for worse, organized religions in the West have emphasized the first three functions. But they have, historically, failed to provide opportunities for authentic transformation and transcendence. That shortcoming has been a driving force behind several important trends. For one thing, it accounts for the rise of an entirely new religious category: spiritual but not religious. Surveys indicate that anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the population is in that cohort, depending on the polling source. They’re after personal growth and direct spiritual experience, and they’ll go wherever they find it.

The yearning for transformation and transcendence also explains the burgeoning interest in long-hidden mystical teachings: Kaballah and other forms of Jewish mysticism; contemplative Christianity as exemplified by the likes of Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, and Thomas Merton; and Sufism, the tragically suppressed and harassed school of Islam that most people associate with the medieval poet Rumi.

But perhaps the most significant phenomenon driven by the absence of transformation and transcendence in mainstream religion has been the explosion of interest in Eastern traditions. What started with spiritually adventurous baby boomers in the sixties and seventies has since affected tens of millions of Americans who engage in practices that were, for centuries, the exclusive domain of Hindus, Buddhists, and, to a lesser extent, Taoists. Elements of those traditions were translated and packaged for Western consumption, offering practical methods for transformation and transcendence that did not bump up against reason, science, or history.

Experience-oriented more than belief-oriented, they were adapted for use by people of all faiths — and no faith — who were willing to follow the instruction manuals. This led to the secularization of traditional spiritual practices such as meditation and yoga, and to a remarkable scientific enterprise that has already produced thousands of studies documenting the effectiveness of those disciplines on mental and physical health.

The point is, the religious landscape has changed radically in recent decades, but we continue to discuss, argue about, and evaluate the subject as if religion consists only of doctrinal beliefs and serves only those first three functions (transmission, translation, transaction). Adding the dimensions of transformation and transcendence helps us frame the subject in a way that does justice to the original purpose of religion: to expand and deepen our sense of ourselves, and to forge a connection to the transcendent.

The word “religion,” after all, derives from the Latin religare, which means to bind. When we assess any given expression of religion, therefore, we need to ask not only whether its stories and claims hold up to evidence, but how well it binds us to our higher nature, to each other, to the planet, and to the cosmos. To the extent that religion fails at those tasks, it does not live up to its name.

Philip Goldberg is a spiritual counselor, meditation teacher and ordained Interfaith Minister. The author or coauthor of 18 books, he lectures and leads workshops throughout the country. The former Director of the Forge Institute’s Guild of Spiritual Leaders, and now serves as the Forge’s Director of Communication. A novelist and screenwriter as well, he lives in Los Angeles, where he founded Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates (SWAHA) and coaches individuals to clarify and deepen their spiritual lives.

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