Mystic, Poet, Prophet: A review of A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey by Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox is the passionate prophet of Creation Spirituality.  For nearly four decades, he has championed the spiritual movements and persons that affirm the sacredness of Creation and unite mysticism with prophecy.  In his latest book Fox explores the life of Thomas Merton, the influential 20th-century contemplative, writer, poet, and activist who did much to put Christianity in dialogue with the world’s religions and to challenge the social, economic, and political trends of his times.  A Way to God traces Merton’s journey from a conventional “Fall/Redemption” Catholic theology to a nondual Creation Spirituality that is “more ecumenical and more prophetic, more grounded and earthy.”
The book can be thought of as a conversation largely involving Fox, Merton, and Meister Eckhart, the medieval Rhineland theologian and mystic who is “the spokesperson par excellence for the wisdom-based and nature-based mystical and prophetic tradition called Creation Spirituality.”  Meister Eckhart not only deeply influenced Fox’s own life but also profoundly affected Merton’s transformation. Indeed, Merton called Eckhart “my lifeboat,” “a great medieval thinker,” and “a great man who was pulled down by a lot of little men.” According to Fox, Eckhart “permeates Merton’s work and consciousness from 1959 onward.”  Fox demonstrates that Buddhist teacher and writer D. T. Suzuki, who was in dialogue with Merton from about 1958 to 1968, played a pivotal role not only in catalyzing Merton’s new ecumenical orientation but in fostering his reappraisal of Eckhart (twenty eight of Eckhart’s theological propositions had been condemned by Pope John XII in 1329).

The Tao of Torah

More than a decade ago I was invited to join a monthly Torah study group in the San Francisco Bay Area that met at the homes of the group members. All of the members were currently or had once been affiliated with Jewish Renewal, a spiritual movement born in the 1960s that integrates Kabbalistic mysticism with modern, progressive values. In the group were therapists, teachers, lawyers, a nurse, a computer programmer, and a business consultant. Several members had at one time been involved with Eastern religions. I felt honored and delighted to join this circle of committed lovers of Torah.

Counsel for Interfaith Leaders and Peacemakers

9. Revisioning Conflict: Explore ways of resolving religious conflict that are nonviolent and rooted in justice, equity, respect, understanding, compassion and forgiveness, while reframing conflict as an opportunity for creative reconciliation, growth, and connection.
10. Cross-Fertilization: Study how the world’s religions have cross-fertilized one another directly and indirectly, and appreciate how we have benefited from each other’s spiritual gifts.