My name is Phil Fox Rose and I’m a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. I grew up in an ex-Mormon atheist home in New York’s Greenwich Village. Though my conservative science-loving father regularly mocked religion and radio preachers, he also took me on annual cross-county family camping trips and showed me the wonders of nature. Standing in awe before geysers, redwoods, mountains and canyons was the beginning of my spiritual journey. It continued through Quakerism, deep ecology, Buddhism and Catholicism. Now I’m a congregant, worship leader, cook and chair of the leadership team at St. Lydia’s, an awesome dinner church in Brooklyn, NY. And I continue to spend as much time in nature as possible. I haven’t disavowed any of the steps on my journey, but draw on them all, along with other traditions I’ve encountered, from Orthodox Judaism to Pentecostalism to Sufism to Zen.
After being exposed to contemplative practice in Quakerism and exploring it further in Buddhism, nearly two decades ago I was introduced by Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault to a Christian form of meditation called centering prayer which I continue to practice and teach. I have been coordinator for New York City of Contemplative Outreach, which promotes it.
Professionally, I have been a writer and editor for much of the time, with several national columns about technology and politics. In the early 2000s, I shifted my focus to writing and editing about religion and spirituality. In 2017, I became director of content here at Patheos, overseeing the hundreds of blogs, and helping curate the conversation on faith. Recently I was editor of ecumenical faith-based publishing house Paraclete Press. Lifting up new voices, offering useful resources, encouraging richness and depth in spiritual journeys — this is what gives me joy.
Also along the way, I’ve helped build a national political movement and run a political party; I’ve been a sheepherder and vegetable gardener; and I’ve worked as a videographer, software designer, stockbroker and downtempo radio DJ. A common thread in most of it — and yes, I found one — is the process of learning about stuff and then sharing that understanding with others. (More work stuff is here: philfoxrose.com.)
In On the Way, I talk about tools and ideas that help on the spiritual journey, and share reports and thoughts on just about anything that crosses my path. The Way has many meanings.
- The path — Many spiritual traditions speak of a way or path or road, with language around staying on the path, straying from it, turning back in the right direction. I love this way of looking at spiritual life as a journey down a path. The sides have no walls. It’s easy to be distracted by thoughts or startled by fears and drift off the path. Sometimes there are forks in the road. I will offer tips and tools to help you in the life-long process of discernment and course correction. They come from the collective wisdom of others, have been tried in personal experience and tested through sharing in spiritual direction. Of course, like the guidance on my tattoo in this blog’s banner photo, these things are simple, but not easy.
- Contemplation — The term Tao (or dao) in some Eastern traditions means “Way” — the focus being harmony with this natural flow of things, which some Christians call God’s Will. People today spend much of their time living in and reacting to something other than reality — whether inner anxieties or the distorted materialistic culture around us. Drawing on two decades of contemplative meditation practice, study and teaching, I’ll be posting about finding serenity and harmony through deepening your connection with God / the ground of all being / what is.
- Community — Early Christians called their new practice the Way, and I’ll be exploring some of the cool experiments in Christian worship and community, including my own, St. Lydia’s.
- Recovery — When the recovery movement was starting, the title of AA’s Big Book originally was to be “The Way Out,” and I’ll be talking about finding your way out of addictive and compulsive patterns and the ongoing journey of sober life which follows.
- Creativity — I’ve been writing poetry and prose since I was a teenager. Music moves me — whether it’s sacred choral music, a shifting wall of post-metal noise or singing at church. Every once in a while, while watching dance, I get choked up. Art at its best is about the reach for something greater. Artists often talk about something beyond or deep within themselves coming through. (Can’t help mentioning The Artist’s Way, both to get the “Way” reference in and also because it has been a part of my journey.) And receivers of art sometimes get to share in that transcendent moment. Hildegard of Bingen says it’s the closest we can get to experiencing life in the Garden of Eden. I’ll be exploring the interesection of art and spirituality from both sides. (Just so you know, though, I like pop music too. There will be posts about Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. You’ve been warned.)
- Notes from the along the Way — The Way is also life in general, and this blog will include lots of posts that are simply my reports from the road — both overtly spiritual and not. I’ve experienced transcendent moments in nature and church, listening to music and reaching consensus in a business meeting. I find lessons in reality contest shows (not reality drunk-people-being-stupid shows.) I have some hefty history in politics and sometimes (but rarely) weigh in. So this final category is a catchall for me to say whatever I feel moved to say.
Headshot photo in banner: © Sari Henry 2009