Shuck and Jive

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Pick Your Spirituality!

In preparation for my sermons this year on the four paths of Creation Spirituality (we are now on via creativa), I have been re-reading Matthew Fox's Original Blessing.

One thing I like about Matthew Fox is his ability to make fun charts. With a handy chart, Fox compares the popular Fall/Redemption model of spirituality with the Creation-Centered model of spirituality.

This is his appendix B from
Original Blessing. In the book of course, it is in a side by side chart. I had to reproduce it the following way.

Fall/Redemption is in red
Creation-Centered is in green

Do know, beloveds, that the
Fall/Redemption types were not amused by Fox's chart-making and had him reported.

He was later excommunicated from the Catholic Church by Cardinal Ratzinger the very same who was promoted to Pope.
Fall-Redemption types are ruthless and calculating.

However, the good shall prevail.
Choose your favorite Christmas color--red or green to match your spirituality!

and Creation-Centered Spiritualities

Key spokespersons: Augustine, Thomas à Kempis, Bossuet, Cotton Mather, Tanquerry
Key spokespersons: Yahwist author, wisdom writers, prophets, Jesus, Paul, Irenaeus, Benedict, Hildegarde, Francis, Aquinas, Mechtild, Eckhart, Julian, Cusa, Teilhard, Chenu, feminists, liberation theologians, artists, musicians, poets

Faith = “thinking with assent” (Augustine)

Faith = trust





Mortification of body

Discipline toward birthing

Control of passions

Ecstasy, Eros, celebration of passion

Passion is a curse
Passion is a blessing

God as Father
God as Mother and Child as well as Father

Suffering is the wages of sin
Suffering is birth pangs of the creation

Holiness is the quest for perfection
Holiness is cosmic hospitality

Return to past to a state of perfection and innocence
Imperfection is integral to all nature

Keep soul clean
Make soul wet so it grows, expands, and stays green

Begins with sin
Begins with Dabhar, God’s creative energy

Emphasizes original sin
Emphasizes original blessing

Introspective in its psychology
Emphasizes extrovert meditation, i.e. art as meditation

Miracle is an outside intervention contravening the law of nature
Basic miracle is the wonder of existence, isness, creation

Ecological, cosmic

Sciences of nature are unimportant

Science, by teaching us about nature, teaches us about the Creator

Dualistic (either/or)
Dialectical (both/and)

Suspicious of body and violent in its body/soul imagery; “soul makes war with the body” (Augustine)

Welcoming of body and gentle in its body/soul imagery; “soul loves the body” (Eckhart)

Humility = “despise yourself” (Tanquerry)

Humility = befriend one’s earthiness (humus)

In control
Letting go – ecstasy, breakthrough


Climbing Jacob’s ladder
Dancing Sara’s circle

For the many


No cosmic Christ
Cosmic Christ

Emphasis on Jesus as Son of God, but not on Jesus as prophet
Emphasis on Jesus as prophet, as artist, parable-teller, and Son of God who calls others to their divinity

Personal salvation
Salvation and healing of the people of God and the cosmos

Build up church
Build up Kingdom/Queendom

Kingdom = Church
Kingdom = Cosmos, creation

Human as sinner
Human as royal person who can choose to create or destroy

Struggle to clean one’s conscience
Struggle to make justice of injustice and to balance the cosmos

Time is toward the past (lost perfection) or future (heaven): unrealized eschatology

Time is now and making the future (heaven) happen now: realized eschatology

Spiritual journey follows three paths of purgation, illumination, union (Plotinus)

Spiritual journey follows four paths of Via Positiva, Via Negativa, Via Creativa, ViaTransformativa

Mysticism = mortify the senses

Mysticism = let go of today’s ideologies


Transform and be transformed!

Eternal life is after death
Eternal life is now

All pleasure should be moderate (Tanquerry)

Enjoy divine ecstasy in creations’ pleasures

Contemplation is the goal of spirituality

Compassion, justice, and celebration are the goals of spirituality

A spirituality of the powerful

A spirituality of the powerless, the anawim

Emphasizes the cross

Considers the cross as significant for the Via Negativa, but also emphasizes the Resurrection, the coming of the spirit and creation, co-creation

Tends toward christolatry and docetism with an underdeveloped theology of the Creator and the Holy Spirit

Trinitarian in full sense of celebrating a Creator God, a prophetic Son of God, and the Holy Spirit of divine transformation

Emphasizes obedience

Emphasizes creativity (obedience to the image of God in one)

Tends to abstractions





Guilt and Redemption

Thanks and Praise

Purity from the world

Hospitality to all of being

Apolitical, i.e. supportive of the status quo

Prophetic, i.e. critical of the status quo and its ideologies

Soul is in the body to guard it
Body is in the soul to enlarge it

Nothingness as psychological experience

Nothingness as metaphysical experience

Humanity is sinful

Humanity is divine and capable of demonic and sinful choices

Faith is in the intellect

Faith is in the imagination

Suspicious of the artist

Welcomes the artist since all are called to be co-creators with God




  1. John

    I thought the seasonal color for Christmas was white. Did I get my stoles mixed up? :) Red is for Pentecost and Green is for "ordinary days." Except I don't believe there are any ordinary days.

    Back when I was young, lo these many years ago Presbyterians didn't go in for seasonal colors. It was scarlet all the time on the pulpit and the lectern. And the pastor didn't wear any stole.

    As to your dualisms (had to get that in) it seems to me that many if not most are both and not either or.

  2. As to your dualisms (had to get that in) it seems to me that many if not most are both and not either or.


  3. Heh.

    I always say I'm a "both-and" person in an "either-or" world.

    but then I'm a heretic.

  4. It seems to me that atonement theory by itself (or any other theory of Christ's work) is insufficient. The Bible uses a variety of images to talk about the work of Christ: redemption, which may or may not be atonement, reconciliation, taught by Christ's teaching and life on how to live as people of the Kingdom, defeat of the principalities and powers, etc. All the images are necessary to talk about the fullness of the work of Christ.