Matthew Fox


American Dominican Postdenominational Priest, Iconoclastic Roman Catholic and Episcopal Theologian, defrocked Catholic Priest

Author Quotes

An integral part of any 21st century spirituality is what I call “deep ecumenism” or others call “interfaith” and “interspirituality.” Spirit works and has worked through all cultures and all religions—Vatican II supported this reality—and today humans cannot afford tribalism and hiding in their denominational boxes throwing stones or, what’s worse, missiles at one another. We have to dig up our deepest wisdom from all our wisdom traditions, and most of that wisdom we share in common, as I have laid out in my book One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths. The survival issues we face, such as dealing with global climate change, the depleting oceans and forests and soil and animals and seeds and plants—these are not restricted to any faith tradition. They are about the survival and sustainability of the planet as we know it and therefore of our species as we know it. Science too can and should join as part of the wisdom tradition.

A civilization built on dualism and war within and between persons, one that puts its most creative minds and its best engineers to sadistic work building more and more destructive weapons, is no civilization at all. It needs a radical transformation from the heart outwards. It needs to outgrow and outlaw war just as in the last century it outlawed slavery. The human race has outgrown war, but it hardly knows it yet.

Compassion is the essence of Jesus' teaching, and indeed of the teaching of all great spiritual figures from Mohammed to Isaiah, from Lao Tzu to Chief Seattle. Yet compassion has been sentimentalized and severed from its relationship to justice-making and celebration. Creation Spirituality links the struggle for justice with the yearning for mysticism.

One lesson we can learn from pre-industrial peoples is the power of storytelling. I am struck by how important storytelling is among tribal peoples; it forms the basis of their educational systems. The Celtic peoples, for example, insisted that only the poets could be teachers. Why? I think it is because knowledge that is not passed through the heart is dangerous: it may lack wisdom; it may be a power trip; it may squelch life out of the learners. What if our educational systems were to insist that teachers be poets and storytellers and artists? What transformations would follow?

Looking for and enjoying beauty is a way to nourish the soul. the universe is in the habit of making beauty. There are flowers and songs, snowflakes and smiles, acts of great courage, laughter between friends, a job well done, the smell of fresh-baked bread. Beauty is everywhere.

Humor and paradox are often the only ways to respond to life's sorrow with grace.

The system is not working. That is how a paradigm shift begins: the established way of seeing the world no longer functions.

Political movements for justice are part of the fuller development of the cosmos, and nature is the matrix in which humans come to their self-awareness of their power to transform. Liberation movements are a fuller development of the cosmos's sense of harmony, balance, justice, and celebration. This is why true spiritual liberation demands rituals of cosmic celebrating and healing, which will in turn culminate in personal transformation and liberation.

Do not confuse beauty with beautiful. Beautiful is a human judgment. Beauty is All. The difference is everything.

Beauty saves. Beauty heals. Beauty motivates. Beauty unites. Beauty returns us to our origins, and here lies the ultimate act of saving, of healing, of overcoming dualism.

We were made for something cosmic and will not fit peacefully into anything much smaller. And when we try to build our lives around anything much smaller than cosmos we become grotesque, and our institutions, be they religious or familial or educational or governmental are asked to do too much. They become misshapen and malformed and turn into instruments of cosmic and personal destruction.

Creation is all space, all time - all things past, present, and future.

To connect with the great river we all need a path, but when you get down there there's only one river.

Work has to include our deepest values and passions and feelings and commitments, or it's not work, it's just a job. A job is something to pay our bills with. Work is something that touches our heart and expresses our being. That joy is the key to spirit.

Prayer is essentially about making the heart strong so that fear cannot penetrate there.

Is my work smaller than my soul?

Peace on earth cannot happen without peace with the earth and peace among all earth creatures.

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American Dominican Postdenominational Priest, Iconoclastic Roman Catholic and Episcopal Theologian, defrocked Catholic Priest