Fox, Matthew 1940- (Matthew Timothy Fox, Timothy James Fox)
Fox, Matthew 1940- (Matthew Timothy Fox, Timothy James Fox)
Original name, Timothy James Fox; born December 21, 1940, in Madison, WI; son of George Thomas (a college football coach) and Beatrice Fox. Education: Aquinas Institute of Philosophy, Dominican College of St. Rose of Lima (now Aquinas Institute, St. Louis, MO), M.A., 1964; Aquinas Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Dubuque, IA (now Aquinas Institute, St. Louis), M.A., 1967; Institut Catholique de Paris, S.T.D. (summa cum laude), 1970; postdoctoral study at University of Muenster, 1970. Politics: Independent.
Office—Friends of Creation Spirituality, 287 17th St., Ste. 400, Oakland, CA 94612.
Writer, Episcopal priest, educator. Entered Ordo Praedicatorum (Order of Preachers; Dominicans; O.P.), 1960, ordained Roman Catholic priest, 1967, released from obligations of the priesthood, 1993; ordained Episcopal priest, 1994; Aquinas Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Dubuque, Iowa (now Aquinas Institute, St. Louis, MO), assistant professor of theology, 1970-71; Emmanuel College, Boston, MA, assistant professor of theology, 1971-72; Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, assistant professor of theology, 1972-73; Barat College, Lake Forest, IL, professor of religious studies and head of department, beginning in 1973; Mundelein College, Chicago, faculty member, until c. 1983; Holy Names College, Oakland, CA, founder and director of Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality, c. 1983-96; University of Creation Spirituality, Oakland, founder and director, 1996—. University of St. Thomas, professor; Thomas More Association, lecturer, beginning in 1973. Lorscheid International Movement of Dominicans, member of secretariat, 1969.
Catholic Theological Association.
Religion USA: An Inquiry into Religion and Culture by Way of Time Magazine, Listening Press (East Dubuque, IL), 1971.
On Becoming a Musical, Mystical Bear: Spirituality American Style, Harper (New York, NY), 1972.
Whee! We, Wee, All the Way Home: A Guide to the New Sensual Spirituality, Consortium (Wilmington, NC), 1976.
A Spirituality Named Compassion and the Healing of the Global Village, Humpty Dumpty, and Us, Winston Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1979, reprinted with new preface, Harper (San Francisco, CA), 1990.
(Editor) Western Spirituality: Historical Roots, Ecumenical Routes, Fides/ Claretian (Chicago, IL), 1979.
(Author of introduction and commentary) Meister Eckhart, Breakthrough: Meister Eckhart's Creation Spirituality in New Translation, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1980, abridged edition published as Passion for Creation: Meister Eckhart's Creation Spirituality; Selections from Breakthrough, Image (New York, NY), 1995.
(With Brian Swimme) Manifesto for a Global Civilization, Bear and Co. (Santa Fe, NM), 1982.
(Author of introduction) Meditations with Meister Eckhart, Bear and Co., (Santa Fe, NM), 1982.
Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, Bear and Co. (Santa Fe, NM), 1983, updated edition published as Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality: Presented in Four Paths, Twenty-six Themes, and Two Questions, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.
(Author of commentary) Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, Bear and Co. (Santa Fe, NM), 1985.
(Editor) The Hildegard Reader: Operatione Dei and Letters by Hildegarde of Bingen, Bear and Co. (Santa Fe, NM), 1986.
(Editor) Hildegard of Bingen's Book of Divine Works with Letters and Songs, Bear & Co. (Santa Fe, NM), 1987.
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, Harper (San Francisco, CA), 1988.
(Contributor) Catherine Hammond, editor, Creation, Spirituality, and the Dreamtime, Millenium Books (Newtown, Australia), 1991.
Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth, Harper (San Francisco, CA), 1991.
Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, Harper (San Francisco, CA), 1992.
The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood for Our Time, Harper (San Francisco, CA), 1994.
Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation, Spirituality, and Everyday Life, Harper (San Francisco, CA), 1995.
In the Beginning There Was Joy (juvenile), illustrated by Jane Tattersfield, Crossroad Publishing (New York, NY), 1995.
(Contributor) Jane Bobko, editor, Vision: The Life and Music of Hildegarde von Bingen, Penguin Studio (New York, NY), 1995.
(With Rupert Sheldrake) The Physics of Angels: Exploring the Realm Where Science and Spirit Meet, Harper (San Francisco, CA), 1996, published in England as Natural Grace: Dialogues on Science and Spirituality, Bloomsbury, 1996.
Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (autobiography), HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Lessons for Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1999.
A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice, Inner Traditions (Rochester, VT), 1999.
(Author of introduction and commentaries) Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, Inner Traditions (Rochester VT), 2000.
One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.
Prayer: A Radical Response to Life, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.
Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.
Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (New York, NY), 2003.
A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity, Inner Traditions (Rochester, VT), 2006.
Founding editor of Listening, 1964-67; founder and editor in chief, Creative Spirituality, 1985. Also author of the blog, Matthew Fox.
Matthew Fox began his career as an ordained priest of the Dominican order. He served Roman Catholic congregations for several years, first in the midwest and later from coast to coast. By the time he founded the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality at Holy Names College in the early 1980s, however, he had become one of the most outspoken and controversial figures in contemporary Roman Catholic theology.
Early in his pastoral career, Fox identified among his parishioners certain "longings that have gone unmet by contemporary forms of secularized religion," according to New York Times Book Review critic Carol Zaleski. "His readers seek a religion rich in mystery and ritual, yet free from moralistic, authoritarian restraints." Fox's early books, like On Becoming a Musical, Mystical Bear: Spirituality American Style were welcomed by such readers, but they disturbed church officials. They also set the stage for the debut of what Fox dubbed "creation spirituality," a revival of what Zaleski paraphrased as "a long-suppressed tradition of joyful, sensuous, egalitarian, ecumenical and ecologically sensitive Christian mysticism."
Fox formally introduced his views in the 1983 book Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality. In it, he called for a replacement of current thinking on original sin with a more ancient interpretation of original goodness and blessing as it was celebrated in medieval Christianity. He elaborated his vision in a later work, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance. Fox postulated that the focus on original sin has created enormous amounts of guilt and insecurity within believers, especially among minorities, and this has led to abuse, unemployment, poverty, intolerance, addiction, and other outrages against the human spirit. In his books and popular public lectures and at the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality, Fox urged a celebration of human creativity, an exploration of the natural and physical world, and a return to ancient meditation and mysticism. The faculty of his institute included a yoga teacher, a massage therapist, a Zen Buddhist, and a practitioner of wicca, which some people liken to witchcraft and which the church found particularly objectionable.
In 1988, after a long investigation, the Dominican procurator general in Rome forbade Fox to speak publicly for one year and requested him to return to the home province in the midwest for reflection. The priest's response was a full-page advertisement in the New York Times titled "My Final Statement before Being Silenced by the Vatican" and a San Francisco press conference at which Fox stated, according to New York Times reporter Jane Gross: "There is an honor attached to being silenced by the present regime in the Vatican." He also remained firmly planted in California and continued to teach and to write. In 1993 Fox was expelled from the Dominican order; a year later he was ordained an Episcopal priest. His academic and administrative relationship with Holy Names College deteriorated, and in 1996 Fox established his own University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, California.
Throughout the years of controversy, Fox maintained that he never sought to diminish contemporary Roman Catholic worship, but to enrich it. In recent years he has sought to apply his teachings more universally to the world at large. He wrote a children's book titled In the Beginning There Was Joy. He produced The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood for Our Time, and, with British scientist Rupert Sheldrake, he wrote The Physics of Angels: Exploring the Realm Where Science and Spirit Meet. In 1996 Fox published his autobiography, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called it "the story of a vital and iconoclastic man who still loves his former church and who desperately wanted … to revitalize it."
Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Lessons for Transforming Evil in Soul and Society replaces what Fox sees as the destructive nature of Christianity's seven deadly sins with the mystical seven chakras of Hinduism, arguing further that the very nature of sin has been misunderstood and misrepresented in Western Christianity. "This is fascinating stuff, and devotees of Fox will not be disappointed," wrote Booklist contributor Michael Spinella. Leroy Hommerding, writing in Library Journal, emphasized that "collections staying current on comparative religions, how-to guides, and general-interest titles in spirituality will find it essential."
In his 2000 work One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, Fox explores how one can draw common truths and principles from all the world's religions. Here, he looks at what religions have in common, not on how they might differ in doctrine and practice. He explores four areas of commonality: dealing with the creation, the divine, ourselves, and the future. Graham Christian, writing in Library Journal, found One River, Many Wells Fox's "most far-reaching effort at ecumenical thought yet." Similarly, Booklist contributor Spinella thought "followers and adherents of Fox will be pleased by his new look at world religions," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that Fox "continues to be an articulate presenter of the trends that he helped put in motion."
In his 2002 book Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet, Fox presents an "intermittently eloquent meditation on tapping into the power of human creativity," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Fox declares in this work that the world is living through a time of crisis in terms of the environment and spirituality. Mankind must use its creativity to turn from base materialism to real spirituality, Fox argues, using quotes from many different religions and philosophies to prove his point. The reviewer for Publishers Weekly thought that Fox's attempts to go "well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine … will be welcomed by his many fans." Similarly, for Christian, writing in Library Journal, Creation was an "uplifting guide to the meaning of the creative force and its applications in our lives."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Fox, Matthew, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
Booklist, May 15, 1999, Michael Spinella, review of Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Lessons for Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, p. 1646; October 1, 1999, Ray Olson, review of Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh, p. 322; October 1, 2000, Michael Spinella, review of One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, p. 298.
Library Journal, May 1, 1999, Leroy Hommerding, review of Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh, p. 84; October 1, 2000, Graham Christian, review of One River, Many Wells, p. 110; October 1, 2002, Graham Christian, review of Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet, p. 104.
New York Times, October 21, 1988, Jane Gross "Vatican Orders a Year of Silence for a ‘New Age’ Catholic Priest," p. B-2; March 17, 1993, Molly O'Neill, "Roman Catholic Rebel Becomes a Cause Celebre," pp. C1, C8.
New York Times Book Review, January 15, 1989, Carol Zaleski, review of The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, p. 12.
Psychology Today, June 1, 1989, "Original Blessing, Not Original Sin," p. 54.
Publishers Weekly, March 11, 1996, review of Confessions, p. 53; September 25, 2000, review of One River, Many Wells, p. 110; August 26, 2002, review of Creativity, p. 62.
Levity,http://www.levity.com/ (June 6, 2007), "Counting Our Original Blessings with Matthew Fox."
Matthew Fox Home Page,http://www.matthewfox.org (June 6, 2007).
Religious Movements,http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/ (June 6, 2007), "Creation Spirituality."