Matthew Fox: Linking mysticism to compassion & justice


THIS WEEK, we welcome the famous Christian mystic and activist Matthew Fox back to the pages of ReadTheSpirit to talk about his two new books. One of them is The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved. This new book concerns theological and political disputes within the Catholic Church, where Matt’s provocative teaching was the subject of a long-running feud with the Vatican—until his move to the Episcopal Church in 1994. If you care to read Matt Fox’s view of the Vatican these days—and we know that many readers will eagerly want to read his newest critique—then click the book’s title above and you’ll find it on sale via Amazon at far less than you’ll pay in bookstores.

MAINLY, however, we’ll be talking to Matt on Wednesday about his other new book, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations,which is a day-by-day inspirational “reader” with short passages from a host of traditional Christian mystics—and some writers not normally associated with the term “mysticism.”


Why are we writing about mysticism on Memorial Day? Well, if you stop to ponder this connection for a moment, you’ll realize that mysticism often is a response to the tragedies and horrors of the world—such as war, injustice and the pain of losing loved ones. Read our Memorial Day holiday story, which includes President Obama’s appeal for prayer on Memorial Day, and you’ll see this connection between tragedy, remembrance, prayer and the search for world peace.

Matthew Fox on mysticism and prophetic action: In our interview on Wednesday, Matt himself makes this connection. Here’s a preview of what he has to say … My whole life has been trying to connect mysticism to the work of compassion and justice. In fact, that’s why I’ve gotten into so much trouble with critics! If I was just telling people to go lock themselves away and be still and meditate—I wouldn’t have made the enemies I’ve made! I would still be making a living as a priest in the Catholic Church! I like to quote William Hocking: A prophet is a mystic in action! I’m trying to find that balance, that dance between the mystic and the prophet. And, you know? There’s a prophet inside all of us. We just have to kick start it! It’s the church’s mission to help people become both mystics and prophets.

‘Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations’

As the book’s title indicates, this is a year-long cycle of readings. The 365 pages are simply numbered—not dated—so your “year” can begin on any date you choose. Here’s an example of one day’s offering that seems appropriate for some of the spiritual issues we encounter on Memorial Day:

God is more powerful than evil.
As long as we are living, we can never be so stuck in evil that divine grace cannot get us out.

Thomas Aquinas

Then, Matthew Fox writes: It is good to remind ourselves that evil does not have the last word, that goodness is more powerful and more omnipresent than evil. It does not always appear that way. Sometimes evil seems to take over and triumph. As Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi says: “There is more good than evil in the world but not by much.” There is something realistic in this assessment. Yet, as Aquinas insists, divine grace can always extricate us form evil. Evil does not and must not have the last word.

Come back on Wednesday, when Matt Fox speaks for himself in our weekly author interview!

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Originally published at, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.

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