Walking the Christ Path in Transformation:
Com/passion and Celebration

Matthew Fox smiles at a participant’s comment in the final services of the first Christ Path weekend.

So out of the awe and wonder and cosmic connection, and the grief and loss of the dark night of our soul and our culture, arise the visions and the will to transform our world through creativity, community-building and inspired activism.  There arises the Via Creativa and flowing from that is the Via Transformativa.

But it’s important to remember that this path of passion, compassion and social transformation is not just about relieving pain and undoing injustice. It’s also about celebration!  To make justice happen is to allow for the sharing of life’s gifts and joys.  The purpose of justice is to bring more people to the banquet of life.

We usually forget this – the Via Positiva is so hard for people to embrace in a capitalist culture, because capitalism is signified usually by anal retentiveness. You know, you’re supposed to leave your money in the stock market till it blows up and you build a pyramid or foundation or leave it to your kids when you die. So the whole idea is that the miser is the patron saint of capitalism.

But no, we’re here to give it away and to celebrate! And that’s the essence; that’s what’s missing here: the celebration of life. What does capitalism really know about the celebration of life?

In the Book of Wisdom it says: “This is wisdom: to love life.” That’s what eros is. It’s a passion for life. It’s the Via Positiva. How much passion are you bringing to your love of life? Are you willing to take risks? Are you willing to lose your job? Can you go beyond that fear of loss, that fear of death? And death has so many analogous meanings to it.

Eros, the celebration of life. Audre Lorde, a brilliant New York poet, wrote a brilliant essay on eros. She says, “I am erotic when I bake bread, when I make a table, when I write a poem, or when I make love.” Why? Because eros is a passion we bring to everything, everything we do. That’s what’s needed, is the passion, and that’s what’s missing. How can you have compassion without passion?

The great eco-philosopher Lester Brown has said that the number one obstacle to the environmental revolution is apathy. But apathy is one of the capital sins that our ancestors called acedia. We’ve mistranslated it as “sloth”—but that’s just one part of acedia. Aquinas says it’s a lack of energy to begin new things.

More than sin, acedia is the sickness of our age. It’s depression. It’s sadness, it’s cynicism, it’s bitterness—anything that holds your passion back. It’s couch-potato-itis, which is interesting, a whole new word has grown up in our culture, in our time, to name acedia: couch-potato-itis. It’s passivity, addiction to distractions. And of course, the dominant powers want us to be passive. They’re selling their goodies to us so we will sit on the couch and watch television till we die, be passive.

And they’re gagging our throat chakra, which is the prophetic chakra. Propheto in Greek means “speak out.” The prophet is all about opening up the fifth chakra, like the Green Man does, and letting new things emerge from your voice chakra, which is between your heart chakra and your mind chakra. Our throat is meant to be a birth canal for wisdom and intuition to be delivered.

The word gluttony comes from the Latin word glutus, which means “throat.” Consumer capitalism is the ultimate in gluttony. They’re stuffing us with everything, a lot of things none of us need, in order to gag us so that the prophet inside every one of us does not speak out. There is a conspiracy to keep wisdom down, to keep justice silent. And it’s encapsulated in the media and in much organized religion today, and in education in many other places. And this is the struggle we’re in.

But Aquinas says the medicine for acedia, for couch-potato-itis, is zeal. Zeal is energy, the opposite of acedia. Zeal comes, he says, “from an intense experience of the beauty of things.”

And there you have it: we’re back to Path One, the Via Positiva. It’s the love affair with the world, that intense experience of the beauty of things. Bring that alive and we have our revolution, nonviolent revolution.

And it’s our job as grandparents, as elders, as parents, as citizens, as teachers, as clergy, as artists, as politicians, as poets, to bring alive that intense experience of the beauty of things.

Because, folks, no one has yet seen—on any other planet, in any other galaxy, and of course we’re doing all this marvelous searching, which is great—but no one has yet come close to seeing the beauty that is our home, the beauty on this earth, the lions and the polar bears and the forests and the mountains and the rivers and the oceans. This home of ours, it’s marinated in beauty. And yet the very word beauty has been dropped from moral categories for the last three hundred years.

Descartes, a philosopher of modern consciousness, has a whole philosophy with no philosophy of aesthetics. He just dropped the word beauty, whereas our premodern ancestors, Francis of Assisi, calls God Beauty and Aquinas says God is pulcherrimus, the most beautiful being in the universe, and all the other beings participate in the divine beauty. So beauty is a name for God. It’s a name for God in the Quran. It’s a name for God around the world except in western civilization—and most western seminaries, where they owe more to Descartes and Augustine than they do to Jesus.

We talk about the Paschal mystery of Jesus’s living, dying, and being reborn, but the truth is, we now know that this is a cosmic habit. Every galaxy lives, dies, and resurrects, spreading out its elements, starting up new galaxies. The same is true of supernovas. So not only Jesus, not only we, but every being in the universe is going through this process. Once again, the Paschal mystery is about the cosmos as well as each individual being. The mystery of the Cosmic Christ, embodied in all that exists.

 

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To register for the “Cosmic Christ and Youth: The Occupy Generation,” the Christ Path Seminar weekend taking place online and on-site in Burlingame, CA,  10/11-13, see http://www.christpathseminar.org/ai1ec_event/cosmic-christ-and-youth-the-occupy-generation/?instance_id=99

To order the complete 12-DVD set of recordings from the first Christ Path Seminar weekend, “Cosmic Christ and the New Humanity”– including Dr. Fox’s delivery of the Saturday afternoon lecture from which this post is clipped, seehttp://www.christpathseminar.org/participate-by-dvd/

Be sure to sign up on the Christ Path Seminar mailing list to receive word when the DVDs from the second weekend, “Cosmic Christ and the Historical Jesus,” are released!

 

 

 

About Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox – author, educator, activist, and spiritual pioneer – has spent the past 40 years doing the culture-changing work to lay the foundation for the values of a new generation. As today’s leading voice of the ancient mystical Christian tradition of creation spirituality, he has helped to midwife the birth of a movement that celebrates embodied spiritual practice, oneness with creation, personal awareness, educational empowerment, and social, environmental, and gender justice.


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