Postmodern theologian, Matthew Fox is the president of the new University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland. Offering a Doctor of Ministry program unlike any other in the world, Fox shares his views on how we can all ďwake upĒ by bringing work and spirituality together.
Randy Peyser: What is Creation Spirituality?
Matthew Fox: Creation Spirituality is about recognizing that all of creation is a blessing, that being here is a blessing. It is the most ancient tradition of spiritualities that we know of. Itís the oldest tradition in the bible, as well as the Native peoples, the Africans, American, and Celtic peoples. Itís also a tradition of the great mystics of the West.
All of nature has something to tell us about God. Creation Spirituality is about animals and plants and super novas and galaxies. It is about a community based on justice, and itís about the community we have with all creatures, not just with other humans, and certainly not just with people of oneís own sect. It also honors womenís wisdom.
RP: Is Creation Spirituality a pick-and-choose religion?
MF: No, itís a tradition found around the world in all religions. It has itís own flavor in Judaism and in Christianity. Itís also found in Taoism and in Buddhism. Creation is older than our religions by 15 billion years. So itís not about what fits our religions, but whether our religions fit creation.
RP: Can you talk about your Doctor of Ministry program?
MF: The program resulted from my book, ďThe Reinvention of Work,Ē which was published a few years ago. There was such a response to my book that I realized we needed a program that allowed people to take spirituality back to business and education and religion.
This is the only Doctor of Ministry program in the world that focuses on bringing work and spirituality together. Other programs are centered around the church or clergy, but weíre eager to draw workers of all professions. We have doctors, lawyers, therapists, social workers, and artists in addition to clergy.
RP: What kind of classes do you offer?
MF: Morning seminars cover topics such as The New Cosmology, The Mystics, Urban Spirituality, and Health and Healing. In January, Clarissa Pinkola Estes and I are going to be teaching a course on Evil. We also offer Art as Meditation in the afternoons where students work with artists or ritual makers to go into a more process-oriented experience, a heart experience. Evenings include seminars for processing. Students also prepare in advance by reading and writing papers.
Our Doctor of Ministry program is an intensive where people come to Oakland a few times a year. The point is to remain in oneís community and go back and put these ideas to work in oneís profession.
RP: What is your vision?
MF: I feel there are three dimensions to resurrecting our culture. If we can change education, work, and worship, we could reinvent our species ó and we have to do that. People are bombarded by the media to think that things are normal, but they arenít. Weíre living in the greatest extinction spasm in the last sixty million years with the destruction of the rain forest, other species, and the soil and water.
Our species has to wake up. If we can reinvent our work and our professions, that is the way weíll wake each other up. But weíre not going to reinvent work without reinventing education. What is a university if not a funnel through which we pass our future workers? Iím afraid that education today is not just a funnel, itís a strainer ó we strain the soul and spirit out when people go through our universities. Thereís no cosmology in our universities. Psyche and cosmos are meant to go together.
The third element in this tripod of social change involves reinventing ritual and worship. We use a lot of the genius from young people in the rave movement with our ďTechno Cosmic Masses.Ē The Techno Cosmic Mass is a mass, but itís not about sitting in a pew and being read to, itís about dancing, which is the ancient way to pray. The young people stay up all night dancing themselves into trance. However, we do it minus the drugs. We also use a multi-media approach with pictures all around the walls and ceilings to create a sacred ambience.
Recently, we acquired an abandoned ballroom in downtown Oakland which will open just before Thanksgiving with a Native American dance and blessing. Our former space only held 500 people and we were turning people away. This space will hold 1000.
We need new forms for worship and education and we need to infiltrate our professions with the new cosmology, the new understanding of the universe, how sacred our presence here is. After fifteen billion years of labor on the part of the universe, weíve arrived. We ought to learn some gratitude for this and get on with solving our problems.
For more information on the Doctor of Ministry program at the University
of Creation Spirituality, call (510) 835-4827, http://netser.com/ucs.
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