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Matthew Fox

cosmic mama and we’re all in the Godhead’s lap. So what we should be doing in the west is balancing our God-talk with the Godhead imagery and then you get a dialectic between the feminine and the masculine, and between action and mysticism.

Rebecca: Did the Church actually come out and say, God is male?

Matthew: (laughter) Well if I’m forbidden to say that God is mother then you’d have to draw that conclusion.

David: You said in Original Blessing that the whole Fall/Redemption concept was created by the ruling class for political reasons.

Matthew: Did I say that?

David: You did say that.

Matthew: Good.

David: (laughter) Can you explain what you mean by this and why you think that’s so?

Matthew: Well, if you can teach people that the number one religious problem is their sin and that when they came into the world they made a blotch on existence – and you can really convince them of that – they’ll never get over it. The human species is very vulnerable. We talk about sexual abuse of children, but this is religious abuse. If you feed this into a child’s mind, it reinforces all other abuse that they might be receiving from adults, and it gives it Divine legitimization.

So people never come into their own power, which includes trusting their own experience of anger and outrage. Whether you’re a woman in a sexist society or a gay person in homophobic society, you don’t have that power to stand up and say, well this is what I believe. If we get cut off from our passion where’s our compassion going to come from?

David: Do you think that the ruling classes were doing this very consciously and deliberately?

Matthew: I don’t think that the ruling class thought it through that much, they’ve just inherited all these ways of coercion. You’ve heard the phrase, `Divide and Conquer’ well that’s what it is. It’s dividing people against themselves. In the Reagan era, the Santa Fe Report done by the National Security Council did an analysis of Liberation Theology in South America which said, we can’t destroy this movement but we can divide the Church against itself. It’s exactly what’s happening and we have this present Pope going around condemning the justice-oriented movements in the Church.

It’s all sado-masochism. You have to instruct one group in masochism while developing your own sadism. What is masochism? It’s the `I can’t’ syndrome. We’re being taught this through television all the time; you can’t have friends until you get the right toothpaste and the right car. It’s very subtle, but it’s very real. I think that sado-masochism is the basic energy of imperial minds and structures. You can liberate a masochist by letting them in on their own power. Of course, the idea behind Original Blessing is that everyone is a blessing and everyone is original.

Rebecca: How do you define sin?

Matthew: I like Rabbi Heschel’s definition. He says, “Sin is the refusal of the human to become who we are.” I like that because it’s evolutionary. I think that we’re here to become something – to become who we are. Who are we? We’re creative beings who desire beauty and justice. Aquinas has a great line, he says, “The object of the heart is truth and justice.” It’s not in the head! So we’re here to develop our powers as images of God.

Rebecca: And sin is anything that limits our ability to express this?

Matthew: Yes. There can be sin all around us, but we still have some choices. People can pay attention to their own being and not yield to the false and illusory promises. They can try to find the friends and the philosophies and the rituals to develop their soul instead of selling it.

In terms of community, sin is also a social disease. We’re surrounded by a lot of blessing and goodness and a lot of lies, so you have to be alert.

David: Does the Devil have any place in Creation Spirituality, and do you think that evil, as a force unto itself, exists in the world?

Matthew: I think there’s no question that evil as a force exists, but I think that the danger is in objectifying it as the Devil outside ourselves. The force of evil flows through me and through everybody if we don’t watch out. Hitler seemed like a pretty ordinary politician to a lot of Germans when he was first elected.

Evil is the shadow of angel. Just as there are angels of light, support, guidance, healing and defense, so we have experiences of shadow angels. And we have names for them: racism, sexism, homophobia are all demons – but they’re not out there.

Rebecca: Do you see evil as an actual independent force rather than an absence of love?

Matthew: Both. It’s an abscence definitely, but what happens when there’s a vacuum? It sucks something in. I like the way Native Americans put it, they say that God does not make evil spirits, but humans and human institutions do, and that the door for an evil spirit entering the human heart – is fear. Prayer is a way to strengthen the heart so that we don’t yeild to fear which in turn leads to evil.

Rebecca: Considering how powerful Jesus’ message was to the poor and the outcast, what explains the Church’s traditional lack of social activism?

Matthew: When I look at the history of the Church, I see a lot of moments when there were groups of people who were working with the poor. One example is the invention of the monastic system in the fourth century.

You hear these stories about the desert fathers with long, white beards eating locusts. They actually were young men who went AWOL. When the Church married the empire, you could be drafted into the army and kill people in the name of Christ. So they went into the desert to avoid conscription and they became hermits. So it was really a political movement.

St. Benedict saw the corruption in Rome and he went off and became a shepherd in the hills and eventually developed this whole idea of monasticism which originally was a very small, simple lifestyle. Of course, after a while, monasticism became the big landowner in Europe, and you had St. Dominic and St. Francis in the thirteenth century who quit all that and started new branches like the Dominican Friars who worked with the poor.

And today there are hundreds of Christian nuns, lay people and priests who have given their lives, literally and figuratively, for the causes of the struggling poor in the US and in Latin America. The lack of social activism has not been so much with the rank and file but with the hierarchy.

Rebecca: Fundamentalist preachers very rarely quote from the New Testament, maybe because if they did they would have to admit certain things, like the rich having a responsibility to the poor.

Matthew: To be honest, I don’t think that fundamentalism has anything to do with Jesus Christ. They call themselves Christians, but if that’s Christian, count me out. Fundamentalism is built on fear and greed. They’re telling you to give them your money otherwise you’re going to hell. Christian Fundamentalism is an oxymoron, it’s contradictory. Jesus was about giving to the poor and he was about driving out fear. He wasn’t about raising millions of dollars for theme-parks and so on, or about giving religious legitimization to fascist clerical movements. I do not believe, that fascism and Jesus’ message are compatible, unlike the present Vatican who wants to canonize this fascist, Josemaria Eserviva.

David: What is your concept of the kind of person that Jesus actually was?

Matthew: I was in Malibu and these people put me up in home with a Buddha statue. And I woke up in the morning with this idea that what makes Buddha different from Jesus was that Jesus never had a mid-life crisis, he died a young man. Buddha went through it all. He died in his eighties and so he had more of a take it easy kind of approach. Jesus was this impetuous young man! He wanted to get it all done, overturn the system and so on.

I think you need both. You need the Jesus energy, the prophetic energy, the anger to change things. On the other hand Buddha has the realization of cycles and that everything is fine the way it is. I see Jesus essentially as a very inspired, energetic, passionate Jewish prophet. Prudence was not his best virtue. (laughter)

Rebecca: Guatama Buddha reformed Hinduism and created Buddhism which incorporated many Hindu principles, and it seems that similarly, Creation Spirituality is intending to reform Christianity while retaining much of it’s framework. But when so many Christians wouldn’t even consider a Creation Spiritualist to be a Christian, I’m wondering if the framework of Christianity is really flexible enough to accommodate this.

Matthew: Well, let’s check the facts here. There are also many Christians who don’t consider what’s been called Christianity worth their time. I was just in Europe and I was lecturing in Sweden where two per cent of Lutherans practice and it’s the state church! In England, three per cent of Anglicans practice, in France, four per cent of Catholics practice.

I don’t quite agree that I want to keep the framework. I think the forms have to die. I think that the forms with which Christianity has been presenting itself, are for the most part dead. Is there stuff worth keeping? Of course: the mystics, the prophets, the gospels and Jesus and some of the theology about worship and sacrament – but not the forms! that’s what killing worshippers.

The theology isn’t that bad, it’s really very cosmological. For example in the Catholic Church there’s the idea of eating and drinking the body and blood of the prescence of the divinity of everything in the Universe – I think that’s pretty far out and erotic. I would say,

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