Is Ryan a Religious Hypocrite? A Priestly Letter to Speaker Paul Ryan from Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

Is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan a Religious Hypocrite? From Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox


Dear Speaker and Congressman Paul Ryan,

As a priest who commemorates his 50th year in the priesthood this year (28 as a Roman Catholic and 22 as an Episcopalian), and as your elder, I am writing you this letter because I am worried about your soul. We all know you take good care of your body, working out frequently in the congressional gym we taxpayers provide for those in Congress, and that is a good thing.  But I am concerned that you are neglecting your soul.  It too requires work-outs and practice to stay healthy. You claim to be a good and a practicing Catholic Christian but I have serious doubts that you are.  Our Christian beliefs include these words of Jesus after all: “What does it profit a person if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?”  These powerful words are surely important for anyone serving in public office or any other places of responsibility, whether in government or business or church or wherever.  Yes, they even apply to your close buddies the Koch brothers, upon whom you depend so fully for your income and ideas and campaigns and job. You see, another passage that grounds Catholicism and Christianity is found in Matthew 25: “Do it to the least and you do it to me.”  Not to mention the Golden Rule which is found in Matthew 7:12 and is reflected in some form in every world religion since the time of Hammurabi: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Now I want to ask from a spiritual and theological perceptive how you can possibly reconcile these basic teachings of the Gospels with your continued efforts to create budgets for our entire nation that do the following:

Threaten to privatize and thereby destroy Social Security for elders and disabled people.

Names of God

Fourteenth-century mystic and activist Meister Eckhart says “all the names we give to God come from an understanding of ourselves.” If he is correct, then as humanity’s self-understanding and understanding of the cosmos evolve, then clearly our God-names will evolve in response. Rabbi Arthur Waskow reminds us that the Book of Exodus is also known as the Book of Names because God goes through two name changes within its pages. Why is this? In his article “When the World Turns Upside-Down, Do We Need to Rename God,” Waskow suggests it is because “the old Name cannot inspire a new sense of reality … God is different when the world is different.”

So where do we go for new names for God? The ancient texts of Buddhism say: “God has a million faces,” and ancient Hindu texts discuss “the one Being the wise call by many names.” Thirteenth-century Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas is much wilder—he says that every creature is a name for God—and no creature is.

A Religion of Compassion: A Letter to Pope Francis

The Catholic Church has become “irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid,” to use the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. In his letter to the new pope, Matthew Fox argues that religion needs to return to its roots—as compassionate, loving, spiritual, and accepting of all people—to regain its relevance.

Red Flags Round Pope Francis

Like everyone else on earth, I wish the new pope well and I hope he truly emulates some of Francis of Assisi’s priorities of defending Mother Earth who is in so much peril, living simply (how one does that in a palace like the Vatican surrounded by an obsequious court is another question), speaking out on behalf of the poor, impoverished, sick, and neglected, and speaking out on those social and economic structures that institutionalize injustice. I also hope he cleans up the rat’s nest of corruption, pedophile cover-up, ego mania, and power-addicted prelates who run the curia that in turn runs the Vatican. Good luck and God’s Blessing!

How the Papal Conclave Could Renew Religion: My Two Votes for Pope

Because the Vatican is so sick and infested with evil spirits, it is time to admit that in its present configuration history has passed it by, the Holy Spirit has exited, and its usefulness has run out. But electing a person of genuine spiritual and ethical stature such as the Dalai Lama who also stands for global intelligence and peace and who calls compassion “my religion” would be a genuine act of humility and vision by the voting cardinals. It would also draw us nearer to the real teaching of Jesus and the person who Jesus was. Electing a non-westerner and a non-Christian who recognizes the spiritual genius of Jesus and the truth of the “Buddha Nature” or “Cosmic Christ” in all beings would refresh the move for interspirituality and interfaith that our planet needs so badly. (A bishop of Rome could be elected, hopefully by the people, who would live in that bishop’s place—the Lateran—and preside over the Roman flock meanwhile.) This creative and visionary act by the conclave would help turn the tide of history at this time when our species is in mortal danger of destroying itself by weaponry and wars and/or by continued ecological imperialism, destroying the very nest that feeds and nourishes us.

Ecstatic Origins of the Western Soul

Matthew Fox reviews Peter Kingsley’s “A Story Waiting to Pierce You: Mongolia, Tiber and the Destiny of the Western World.” He writes that in this book Kingsley tells “An earth-shattering, history-breaking story. One that raises whole new possibilities of humans understanding other humans whom we imagine to be so different from ourselves.”