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).

Introduction to Exploring Identity Politics

I first got introduced to identity politics growing up during and after the Holocaust. For large numbers of Jews at that time the murder of one out of every three Jews on the planet Earth who were alive in 1940 was a trauma that not only shaped our lives  and consciousness, but was also then passed on to the next several generations. God had failed to show up and save the Jews. Much of the rest of the world failed to intervene to save Jews. The U.S. turned away refugee ships and most of the countries of the world were unwilling to open their doors to Jewish refugees who were often forced to return to countries dominated by the Nazis, from which they were soon sent to their deaths.

The Life of the Jewish Soul Sucked Out

The Jewish soul walks into a synagogue, finds the sanctuary
and sits down among the musty pews,
picks up a siddur and pretends to read Hebrew. It’s looking for something to feel holy,
what it knows is inside, but wanting to suck
the outside in to feel real. But there is nothing to suck in except the closet smell
of dead grandparents. There are no real grandfathers anymore. There are no real grandmothers anymore.

Readers Respond

Letter to the Editor:
I learned so much by reading Tikkun’s analysis of the left’s condescending attitude towards working class and poor Americans. I have to admit that I ,who had parents that were anti Vietnam war activists, environmental activists, feminist activists,etc, recognize that they had a feeling of being on a higher plane, just as you put it. Even though I have been a very low income earner, I’ve managed to enjoy rural living and growing my own healthy food, I have been subjected to the overt disapproval, and big egos, from wealthy back-to-the-Landers!!!!! So I know how it feels to have scorn heaped on me by others on the left, for not being “more successful” by many people,of the privilege class. So I find myself understanding how the more uneducated white folk feel about the “higher plane” left, as you state in your writing, having been victim of the privileged left myself, but since I had parents on the educated left, I’ve accepted some of their way of seeing things, and as a result cannot accept the working class or poor voting for the right.