Deep ecumenism is a movement that can unleash the wisdom of all world religions— Hinduism and Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, Taoism and Shintoism, Christianity in all its forms, and native religions and goddess religions throughout the world.
This unleashing of wisdom holds the last hope for the survival of the planet we call home. For there is no such thing as a Lutheran sun and a Taoist Moon, a Jewish ocean, and a Roman Catholic forest. When humanity learns this, we will have learned a way out of our anthropocentric dilemma that is boring our young, killing our souls, trivializing our worship, and exterminating the planet.
Cosmology is three things: the scientific story of how we got here, mystical experience, and art. The scientific story is today being heard and believed globally. East Indians and Africans, Russians and Latin Americans, Europeans and North Americans, Chinese and Australians are beginning to hear the same story—that this planet was not an accident, that we have been “loved from before the beginning” in the original fireball itself, that the universe wanted us and awaited us eagerly. We have a responsibility to give back the cherished blessing of our lives with grace and gratitude. We must return blessing for blessing. Generativity and creativity have been built into the universe from the start.
Like science, art too is transcultural. Music, dance, drama, ritual—all the arts—have long held the power to connect, the power to make whole what was separate, the power to move the human heart to wholeness instead of “piecemealness.” With today’s instant communications and social media, much can happen that holds promise for a global artistic awakening, one that hopefully incarnates the new, global, and therefore radically ecumenical cosmology into our psyches, dreams, and bodies, and even our bodies politic. A global awakening is possible— and necessary to save the planet as we know it. The emergence of folk arts and personal arts that will put people to good work, which will bind together communities at the neighborhood level, and which will revitalize our lifestyles is equally a part of the hope that a new cosmology brings to a suffering planet.
A living cosmology cannot happen from science and art alone. Mysticism too must be integral to this awakening, basic to this global renaissance. Mysticism represents the depth of religious traditions the world over—but it has barely ever been tried on an ecumenical level. I cannot emphasize this fact enough. We have no inkling what power would ensue for creativity, for employment, for peace making, for exciting the young to deep adventures once again (other than that dated adventure called war), were mysticism to be unleashed on a global scale. Because it has never been tried, we cannot predict the consequences.
Why have we never tried it? Because the West has been so thoroughly out of touch with its own mystical heritage. How could the West dialogue on mysticism with the East when it did not know its own mystical roots? What can Christianity say to native peoples whose mystical traditions are so rich when Christians don’t know their own mystical experience? After all, the great encounters between Christianity and native peoples and between Christianity and the Eastern religions have occurred only in the past few centuries, i.e., during that exact point in the West when Newton and the Enlightenment extinguished the Cosmic Christ. And, with the bubonic plague in the fourteenth century, creation spirituality was effectively extinguished due to fear of nature and trauma. The result was that redemption became the singular occupation and veritable meaning of religion. The point cannot be emphasized too much: We have never attempted a rapprochement between the Cosmic Christ in Christianity and the Cosmic Christ in the universe and the Cosmic Christ in other religions (the Buddha nature in Buddhism, for example, or the Image of God tradition in Judaism).
Adapted from Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality (Orbis Books, March 2022). Reprinted with permission.
Matthew Fox, PhD is a spiritual theologian, an Episcopal priest and an activist for gender justice and ecojustice. He has written 39 books that have been translated into over 60 languages. As founder of the University of Creation Spirituality in California and The Cosmic Mass, he conducts dozens of workshops each year and is a visiting scholar at the Academy for the Love of Learning. He is the recipient of many awards including: The Abbey Courage of Conscience Peace Award. Recent projects include Order of the Sacred Earth and Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox as well as The Cosmic Mass. For further information go to: www.matthewfox.org. www.dailymeditationswithmatthewfox.org