Spirituality: Where Seriousness and Playfulness Meet

We’ve looked at passion, practice, prophecy and purpose – all elements of the spirituality that we’ve witnessed in our interviews with 20- and 30-something members of the Occupy Generation.

Some readers have asked – how do these patterns and practices differ from those of New Age spirituality, or the embodied interspiritual practices that are shared today across the population, from teens to elder Boomers?

Our answer:  For one thing, they very much include  the shadow–both personal and social–while New Age spirituality is notoriously ill at ease with shadow and issues of injustice (though that movement too evolves and morphs some and is struggling sometimes to integrate the shadow into the light).

And these patterns and practices have nothing in common with those who are preaching a materialistic or ‘prosperity’ so-called gospel which, of course, ignores the shadow altogether.

But with that said, we also see these young sacred activists balancing shadow and light. As we discuss in today’s post, the Occupy Generation affirms that spiritual practices can be both serious and playful at the same time.

Song, dance, and art are all part of the Via Positiva aspect of Occupy Spirituality.

An Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation
by Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2013. Reprinted by permission of publisher.

ADAM BUCKO: This takes us to point number five, which is that this new spirituality includes joy, sensuality, celebration, and heartful aliveness.

MATTHEW  FOX: Fun!

ADAM BUCKO: Fun, absolutely. This new spirituality celebrates life through meaningful connections, works of art, music, and all things that essentially help to grow the soul. As E.B., a 30-year-old man who participated in our study, said: “Many in my generation are wary of the terms religion and spirituality. However, I think we are hungry for something that encourages
questioning, curiosity, depth, and meaning. Our generation has the opportunity to redefine spirituality as something that is truly healthy and inclusive of things like art, science, and having fun!”

MATTHEW FOX: Exactly. And again, to invoke a concept, you are speaking of the Via Positiva—that there is a joy of life, a celebration of life that permeates and that really holds all the crises and all the breakdowns and all the chaos and all the vicissitudes that life also offers. But that fun is itself a value is something that many, many spiritualities have not taught over the centuries. We’ve skipped over the Via Positiva; we’ve kind of let it go, turned it over to secular powers, such as advertisers, to give us their pseudo definitions of pleasure and what supposedly provides profound joy. I think we have to take that back. It’s kind of like the word eros. We gave that away to the pornography industry, whereas, in fact, an erotic life is a juicy life, an alive life, and we all have a right to it.And as Audre Lorde, the New York poet, said, “I’m erotic when I
write a poem, when I make a table, when I bake bread, or when I make love”— eros is the passion for living that we bring to everything we do.

Again, I think a big part of honoring the celebrative dimension to life and spirituality is this feminist thinking. …. I think that a new spirituality that’s truly profound and grounded will again bring back the divine feminine to balance the sacred masculine. But part of that gift in the divine feminine is that the celebration of life is primary. And as I said earlier, even the struggle for justice as service is precisely so that people can celebrate life. It’s not to be right; it’s not to win in court. The point is to create a culture, a civilization, a community in which all can enjoy, for as many years as they’re on this Earth, the gifts that life has to give.

We’ll be looking next at the ways in which this holistic, joyous spiritual approach addresses social relationships and ranking, from the ranking of age to that of student-teacher relations, governmental leaders, and the other forms of authority.

In the meantime, we’d like to invite you to look at your own spiritual practice: where and how do joy and play show up? Do they? And if not, how could you bring them in? What’s stopping you?

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Don’t miss the Occupy Spirituality Book Club on Patheos, September 16-30!
See when Matthew Fox and Adam Bucko will be speaking about Occupy Spirituality in your area: http;//www.matthewfox.org/calendar

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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.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Showing unbridled joy is looked upon as “immature” or “naive” at best and as heathen and arrogant at worst. We are told to have faith like that of children and are then told to shut up and sit down so as not to drown out the voice of “God.”

    Children enjoying pure experiences of life for the first time are the sounds of what I believe is “The Sacred Spirit.” We too soon start to teach them that they are wrong in what they fully embrace and try to take it away from them.


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