Theodore Richards explores the world’s wisdom traditions, from shamanism, Kabbala, and Hinduism through Sufism, Christianity and Buddhism, not from the perspective of theology but from that of cosmology: what is the nature of the universe and the place of humans within it? Tracing the dis-integration of a cultural cosmology from the rationalistic dualism of Descartes’ era to the present day, he proposes a new cosmology for the 21st Century, based upon the principles of inter-being, interdependence and inter-awareness demonstrated by emerging science. An engaging, comprehensive and compelling read, one I find myself picking up again and again
Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations
By Matthew Fox
I came to Matthew Fox’s work like many ex-Catholics, having tossed the spiritual baby out with the dogmatic bathwater and moved on to pursue Spirit through other paths. His work, particularly in Christian Mystics, has reaffirmed for me that there is worth and beauty and true inspiration even in the Christian tradition. It is found in the voices of those who speak for the people, for the earth, for the heart’s direct perception of Spirit, for oneness with the Cosmos, for the strength found in darkness, silence and letting go, and for the paths of creativity and prophesying truth to power. It is found in the mysteries of human love as well as Divine love.
There is not an aspect of life that these meditations leave untouched. I found myself lifted into joy and awe…found affirmation that Spirit is present even in the darkest times…found creative inspiration and the challenge to speak my convictions. There were mornings when, reading the meditation, I was moved to tears and emerged with a heart at peace.
I have picked up many books of daily readings over the years…very few have I actually stayed with from Day 1 to Day 365. This is one of those few…and I am by far the richer for the experience.
If the Church Were Christian:
Rediscovering the Values of Jesus
What if, instead of enforcing doctrine and condemning sin on pain of hellfire, churches lived the values that Jesus demonstrated? Values such as unconditional love, compassion, social justice, generosity and grace?
This is the question that Quaker pastor Philip Gulley asks through pointed chapters on topics such as “Affirming Our Potential Would Be More Important Than Condemning Our Brokenness” and “Encouraging Personal Exploration Would Be More Important Than Communal Uniformity.” Gulley speaks directly to the concerns of those who are disillusioned with the distance between the values the Church says it preaches and those it actually demonstrates, and to the consciences of those who default to righteous judgment over the values of the Sermon on the Mount.
The co-author of two previous books, If Grace is True and If God is Love, as well as the heartwarming fictional Harmony series, Gulley is a former Catholic, now a pastor in a midwestern Friends meeting. His writing is plain, forthright, and obviously from the heart…a rich and affirming read.
By Matthew Fox
I won’t waste words here; this book changed my life. Coming from a recovering-Catholic perspective in which creation was (despite my Earth-based intuition and experience) separate from Spirit, I did not read Original Blessing – I dove in, worked it, challenged it and let it challenge me emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and physically.
I spent four months this year in an Independent Study for my Master’s degree, walking the four paths presented by Matthew Fox in Original Blessing, deeply experiencing the awe, wonder and cosmic oneness of the Via Positiva, the depths of grief (both personal and in empathy with the suffering of the Earth’s ecosystems) in the Via Negativa, the passion of inspiration and creation in the Via Creativa, and the challenge to unjust and unsustainable religious and cultural constructs in the Via Transformativa. Those four months past now, I will never be the same person. After experiencing a number of spiritual traditions, I have found home in creation-based spirituality, which honors them all while providing guideposts to a healthy, sustainable, and eco/socially just life on this planet.
If you are seeking a way to bridge Christ-based faith and practice with deep connection with the Earth, Original Blessing provides the tools. If you are seeking a means to deepen your experience of the Divine in a mature spirituality – “religion for grown-ups,” so to speak – that supports and is supported by science and world faith traditions, this book outlines one profound and beautiful way.
While there are other authors who have written eloquently on this ancient mystical Christ-based tradition, Matthew Fox has without doubt written the most (30 books at last count). Unquestionably, however, Original Blessing is the first step on a long and mind-bogglingly rich path.
Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth
By Matthew Fox
The First World is commonly understood as “free”…if this is so, however, why do we have such horrifically high rates of isolation, mental illness, addiction, violent crime? And why, in “Third World” countries considered “not free,” where material deprivation, struggle and suffering are commonplace, is there paradoxically a higher level of spiritual and psychological resiliency, social connectedness, even joy? In this 1991 volume, written during the sabbatical year of his silencing by the Vatican, Matthew Fox explores these questions in the context of creation-based spirituality. Sadly, his conclusions are, if anything, more timely and important nearly 20 years later.
He presents the “First” and “Third” Worlds as opposite sides of the same coin: while the Third World faces relentless material poverty (“impoverishment of the body”), the First is equally enslaved by spiritual poverty (“impoverishment of the soul”). If those of us in materially fortunate nations are to recognize the need to liberate those who are suffering in outward scarcity and squalor, it is necessary for to recognize our own need for inner liberation. For both, the paths of creation-based spirituality offer hope.