Wednesday, August 20, 2014
On Saturday, I attended a presentation by Matt Fox, the former Catholic priest who got expelled from the Church for heresy. Among his heretical views was the shocking notion that instead of our being born into original sin, we were in fact born in Original Blessing. He also espoused the notion that all of creation was sacred, and developed the idea of "Creation Spirituality" as well as the notion of the "Cosmic Christ."
That morning he offered a very interesting and informative talk on the Beguines of medieval Europe. The Beguines were groups of women who chose to live together in small groups, independent of Church authority and for the most part unencumbered by marriage ties. Beginning in the end of the twelfth century, they flourished for some two centuries until the Church (outraged that women were living without the supervision of males) disbanded them. It is estimated that some 1,000,000 women participated in this movement overall.
One of the Beguines, named Marguerite Porete, advocated the freedom and rights of these independent women, and she was burned at the stake for her views.
Matt proposed that Marguerite Porete authored a book which was known to the great mystic Meister Eckhart. Many of her views were reflected in his writings.
He too was accused of heresy and the Pope ruled against him, but by then Eckhart had died.
Matt Fox, also accused of heresy, became an Episcopal priest and now offers lectures, workshops, and writings presenting his "heretical" views. His emphasis is on love, rather than judgment, and he advocates the incorporation of the body into one's spiritual life. When he headed the University of Creation Spirituality (which he founded), he included "body prayer" (dancing and movement) into the rituals of the school. He is an avowed feminist and mentioned beloved Adrienne Rich as an example of a woman who publicly revealed her own lesbianism well before such sexual preferences were accepted (to some extent) by society.
He has written many books--the most recent is a work on Meister Eckart: A Mystic Warrior for Our Times. In this volume, Matt describes imaginary meetings between Meister Eckhart and various leaders of our time, from Adrienne Rich to Carl Jung.
We all owe Matt gratitude for his fortitude and courage and his willingness to keep offering his perspective to the world at large. Indeed he has been a "mystic warrior" all of his life.