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MATTHEW FOX

ESSENTIAL WRITINGS ON CREATION SPIRITUALITY

A vibrant, sonorous, philosophically rich introduction to Fox’s teachings.

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A leader of a spiritual movement emphasizing creativity, holism, ecology, and feminism sounds off in this wide-ranging digest.

Fox, a major contemporary theorist of progressive spirituality, began his career as a Dominican priest but was expelled from the priesthood by the Vatican for deviating from Catholic doctrine. He went on to become an Episcopal priest and founded the University of Creation Spirituality. Burack’s volume gathers excerpts from Fox’s many books and interviews in which he critiques traditional Christianity, which he views as excessively focused on original sin, the fall and redemption of man, private salvation, repression of passion, an “uber masculine and phallic” patriarchal perspective, and a separation of spirituality from nature and the body. Challenging this orthodoxy, Fox proffers a “creation spirituality” that posits creativity as the organizing principle of the universe, which he sees as inherently good and steeped in “original blessing.” His creation spirituality is feminist, revering God the Mother; full of ecstatic passion and sensuality; intent on furthering social justice; warmly accepting of the body; vigilant about protecting Mother Earth from ecological crises; and centered on “the Cosmic Christ,” who is immanent in all things. (Fox is known for his celebrations of “the Cosmic Mass,” a worship service that resembles a rave with dancing and light shows.) Fox grounds all of this in intellectually sophisticated but lucid and engaging discussions of medieval Catholic thinkers, like Thomas Aquinas and Hildegard of Bingen, Native American and Eastern religions, and quantum physics, which, he contends, provides a scientific rationale for the mystical oneness of all being. Traditionalists may sometimes wince at his revisions of Catholic verities—“Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us co-creators now and at the hour of our creativity” is his rendering of the Hail Mary prayer, which came to him during a vision quest—but his religious effusions have their own resonant grandeur. (“A new commandment has been given to us: thou shalt love your life with all your strength and energy, growing daily in appreciation of the joys of life; and you shall allow and aid where possible your neighbor to love his/hers and do the same, using common norms of justice to determine life’s priorities.”) Readers will find here a captivating introduction to Fox’s multifaceted ideas.

A vibrant, sonorous, philosophically rich introduction to Fox’s teachings.

Pub Date: March 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-62698-455-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Orbis

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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READING GENESIS

In this highly learned yet accessible book, Robinson offers believers fresh insight into a well-studied text.

A deeply thoughtful exploration of the first book of the Bible.

In this illuminating work of biblical analysis, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Robinson, whose Gilead series contains a variety of Christian themes, takes readers on a dedicated layperson’s journey through the Book of Genesis. The author meanders delightfully through the text, ruminating on one tale after another while searching for themes and mining for universal truths. Robinson approaches Genesis with a reverence and level of faith uncommon to modern mainstream writers, yet she’s also equipped with the appropriate tools for cogent criticism. Throughout this luminous exegesis, which will appeal to all practicing Christians, the author discusses overarching themes in Genesis. First is the benevolence of God. Robinson points out that “to say that God is the good creator of a good creation” sets the God of Genesis in opposition to the gods of other ancient creation stories, who range from indifferent to evil. This goodness carries through the entirety of Genesis, demonstrated through grace. “Grace tempers judgment,” writes the author, noting that despite well-deserved instances of wrath or punishment, God relents time after time. Another overarching theme is the interplay between God’s providence and humanity’s independence. Across the Book of Genesis, otherwise ordinary people make decisions that will affect the future in significant ways, yet events are consistently steered by God’s omnipotence. For instance, Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers, and that action has reverberated throughout the history of all Jewish people. Robinson indirectly asks readers to consider where the line is between the actions of God and the actions of creation. “He chose to let us be,” she concludes, “to let time yield what it will—within the vast latitude granted by providence.”

In this highly learned yet accessible book, Robinson offers believers fresh insight into a well-studied text.

Pub Date: March 12, 2024

ISBN: 9780374299408

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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