Earl Lectures 2010 - Matthew Fox

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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.

Plenary Session I- From Religion to Spirituality - and Back Again?

Tuesday, January 26, 10:00am

Many people today believe that religion and spirituality have split.  There is a divorce.  Is this divorce permanent? Is it necessary?  Is a reunion possible or even desireable?  And if so, how would it come about?

In this presentation we will explore some of the basic elements of spirituality (such as mysticism including awe, dark night of the soul, creativity and prophetic/compassionate action) and what gifts spirituality offers the religious and non religious world alike.  We will also explore what some great mystic-activists over the years have said about this split as well as posssible ways to inculcate a living spirituality into religion and other professions suffering from lack of meaning, morality and a zest for life. The overall search or "Chase" is for a Return of the Sacred.


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. Fox was forced to step down as director in 1988, and three years later he was expelled from the Dominican Order, thus terminating the program at Holy Names College.

Rather than disband his 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.

See http://www.matthewfox.org/ for more information.

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