Friday, May 20, 2005

In a kind of miracle, and with help from many, many people, we managed to write a book--now called "A New Reformation!" and print it and get it (80% of it) translated into German--all within about two weeks. The deadline was not our making but the circumstances of my invitation to speak on Pentecost at Bad Herlaub, an invitation which was scheduled six months previous but which loomed much bigger after the election of Benedict XVI. I felt the scandal of this, the first Inquisitor General to be named pope, would awaken people and inspire them to participate in the quest for a New Reformation. Thus an action at Wittenburg.

Giving a lecture to 500 people at Bad Herlaub and a workshop the next day for about 60 others, much feedback came my way. Most of it was very positive but several individuals expressed resistance. "Why don't you forgive Cardinal Ratzinger?" one lady asked me. "Because justice comes first and then forgiveness," I replied. "You should go to Assisi and to Benedict country, not to Wittenburg," said one man. But Assisi is for sweetness, what is called for now is resistance. And resistance is signified by Wittenburg.

Another woman said: "Why a New Reformation? That signifies church institutions. There must be a better term." I thought about that and a better term might be "Transformation." I do want to go beyond Reformation to Transformation and it is time. But Reformation is a first step. And Wittenburg is archetypal--it represents a place where one once stood up to church power and said: "Stop. No longer."

That is needed today too and with the unleashing of spirit and inspiration that this Pentecost season promises, hopefully this act might assist in getting us moving from Reformation to Transformation, from Religion to Spirituality. One can hope.

Today, Tuesday, we took two trains, one as far as Frankfurt and then we switched to a second train to Erfurt. We intended to spend one day in Erfurt and from there to journey to Wittenburg. Why Erfurt?

Erfurt was a theological center for many centuries and it is the town where Martin Luther was trained as a priest and ordained as one. It was also the town where Meister Eckhart lived and worked 150 years earlier for a period of four years. They have just finished a reconstruction of the main body of the Predigerkirche which was his church and which was quite badly damaged in the war and ignored during the Soviet occupation. However, the oldest section, where Eckhart and his Dominican brothers prayed and preached in the late thirteenth century, was not damaged much and still stands much as it did in his day. The choir stall, for example, are the original ones.

In my love and zeal to know Eckhart I once visited Erfurt years ago when it was part of "East Germany" and I was followed by the Stassi (German secret police) from the moment I arrived in my car which had West German license plates since I had rented it in West Germany. When I arrived at the pastor's place where I hoped to get keys to let me into the church there were three cars full of Stassi. I did not want to get the pastor into any trouble so I never got inside and just walked around the perimeter of the property instead.

This trip was different and very special. The pastor, who it turns out was under constant surveillance by the Stassi under the old East German regime, is a great lover of Eckhart and he showed us around the interior including the choir stall where Eckhart sat as prior (yes, I spent time in it meditating and so many of his famous one-liners came to me as I sat there), the altar where he said Mass for the community of 72 members, the very chapter room where he gave several of his well known treatises to novices and others, the refectory where they all ate. And we were allowed to look through a book that dates back to the fourteenth century that has been preserved in the parish office there.

Being in the sanctuary where Eckhart preached--what a great gift. Very moving. Sitting in the choir stall that was his six centuries ago--what a privilege! Standing at the altar where he celebrated Mass as prior of his community--what a grace! Also to visit the church where Martin Luther was ordained and said his first Mass and lived as a theology student. So much history from the past; so much that calls us to a reborn future. Especially at Pentecost time.

This proved to be a very special warm-up for our trip to Wittenburg later that day.

3:47 PM


at 7:21 PM Diogenes said...

How good it does my heart to see a true prophet STANDING UP when so many are wallowing in "well, maybe things will just get better on their own..."

This from Bill Moyers from his speech to the National Conference on Media Reform (it's about the media, but the relevance to your work couldn't be clearer):

"An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only on partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda, is less inclined to put up a fight, to ask questions and be skeptical. That kind of orthodoxy can kill a democracy – or worse."

Thank you for going where the silence is and refusing to be silent.


at 3:35 AM Joseph Marshall said...

Dear Doctor Fox:

In a recent article on Pope Benedict in you wrote:

"Other attacks include documents against yoga (yes!); against Buddhism (calling it "atheism"); against Thich Naht Hahn (calling him the "anti-Christ")"

I have been trying to track down the original sources for these quotations, but have had no luck.

Could you post about it? Or perhaps e-mail me at

Joseph Marshall Ph.D

at 10:02 PM Fran said...

A friend gave me the link to your blog and I look forward to reading more. I'm one of those ex-Catholics (but I still will remain Catholic in my heart until the end of my days) who keeps hoping for reformation. Not likely to happen in your lifetime or mine and I'm totally worn out from trying in my own little way. I'm glad there are people out there, however, who follow their passion with action.

at 6:52 PM C.E. Dorsett said...

I am unable to order a copy of the book, does anyone know whenit will be avalable in stores? I would realy love to read the book before commenting on the 95 Theses for our church's site.

at 1:47 PM jamesAMDG said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
at 1:51 PM jamesAMDG said...

As a slight aside to the you're-the-best-let's-by-your-book-Herr-Doktor fawning that has been going on. Can I please get a reference to where Jesus said that justice must come before forgiveness?

where was the justice that occured before the event which one our ultimate forgiveness (the even from which forgiveness flows) the Crucifixion of Our Lord?

Peace and Victory in the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

at 6:02 AM Clayton said...

You seem to have forgotten this document from John Paul II for the World Day of Peace in Assisi: No Peace without Justice, No Justice without Forgiveness.

Or ignored it.

Pope Benedict is not the boogeyman you imagine him to be. I hate to admit it, but your irrational rants stir up in me feelings of Ratzenfreude.

at 7:30 AM Brechtian Owl said...

Hee hee. Your blog's a hoot!

at 12:58 PM Deep Furrows said...

Dear Dr. Fox:

I read your Original Blessing years ago and found it quite refreshing. I also subscribed to your magazine for a year. What I liked about your book best of all was the substantial bibliography you provided. To you, I owe a debt of gratitude because your work set me onto the path of rediscovering the fullness of Christian tradition.

My readings of Hildegarde, Eckhart, John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, etc. all led me back to the incarnation of Christ and thus, to the heart of the Church. From there, my pilgrimage led me to Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, David Schindler, Pope John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, all of whom have explored "creation-centered" spirituality in orthodox forms (Balthasar and Benedict have also explored the thought of Luther, a unique and unimitable figure).

May God bless you and protect you, now and at the hour of your death. May St. Thomas Aquinas intercede for you and your loved ones.

at 9:43 PM Russ said...

Congratulations on "A New Reformation" !!! I read it on the Plane to New York, and got so excited I had to get up and walk around a while. There are so many of the ideas you have been talking about for decades, all with an incredible urgency for today. It seems to me that the kind of spiritual community that you describe is not only necessary to support us through the tough times that seem to be ahead, but also are an example of how we could sustain ourselves in a world which we are committed to creating. Hats off to you.

I'd like to bet several copies of the book. Do you have them on hand at WU? I'll stop by tomorrow and stock up.


at 9:07 AM Scott said...

I find it curious that Fox flat out opposes militarism, yet in this "New Reformation" he posits, he is being quite militant. Does anyone else see the irony?


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at 7:01 PM Servant Leader said...

Dr. Fox, you are a whacked out bleeding heart liberal from the Bay area couching your socialist ideologies in pseudo-Christian post modern psychobabble. I, a 30-something well educated clear thinking servant in the cause of Jesus Christ, cannot sit through another session with you in Wisconsin this evening. Your flippant use of questionable statistics, spurious science and snide political commentary only reinforce our initial impressions that you are a self-promoting egotistical elitist liberal intellectual. I imagine you won't even have the nerve to leave this on your blog. A word of level-headed wisdom from the heartland of America ... quit the attacks on our brothers and sisters in Christ who affiliate themselves with the Roman Catholic Church as well as the evangelical community. This is no way to treat those some of us will be sharing eternity with. May God have mercy.

at 7:10 PM Servant Leader said...

That said, any 21st century reformists looking for direction regarding the need for a new spiritual revival in the Church today need to examine the writings of A.W. Tozer, starting with "Rut, Rot or Revival". All mainline denominational believers would gain thoughtful pause at Tozer's insights of what has, for at least the past 50 years, been eating away at the soul of Western Christian theology ... and how to best address the issues we confront in our congregations and at denominational leadership levels.

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at 12:41 PM Annette Burkett said...

It's funny how when you take a stand and say "this is what I believe", people come out of the woodwork to try to knock you down. Maybe I missed something, but I don't think I read anything in your blog that says, "you must believe the same way I do".

Anything that stirs up something inside someone to search for the truth, for God, for themselves is a good thing. I believe that we will see transformation when people start realizing that they themselves are the church. If they are the foot and you are the hand, who are they to say how you should do your job.

In reading some of the comments that were left for you, I noticed that one said "Secondly, you say that all are called to be prophets. That is decidedly not true. I Corinthians 12:4-8, 14-18". If she would have read down a little farther she would have seen 1 Corinthians 14:1 which says "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy".

My prayer is that God continues to give you the strength to do the job He has given you. May He Bless You In Everything You Do For Him!

Blogging Days and Blogging Nights

at 4:42 PM Scott said...

I must respectfully disagree with you about the expressed motives of Fox and this blogsite. Fox is calling for a "New Reformation." Fox, since he has been effectively expelled from the Catholic Church is trying to be like Luther and is calling for a "new reformation." He's not merely posting his beliefs - he's attacking Catholicism.


at 5:11 AM Good Stuff said...

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at 12:37 PM research guy said...

Hi there M thew Fox, I had been out looking for some new information on cure obesity when I found your site and this post. Though not just what I was searching for, it drew my attention. An interesting post and I thank you for it.

at 3:14 AM Joseph Smith, Jr. said...

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at 7:41 PM Rey Hinckley said...

I would suggest that you add the date to all posts in addition to the time.

at 7:47 PM Rey Hinckley said...

I understand that the book A New Reformation is not due to be available until March 26, 2006.

Is there a way that I can place an order from the publisher.

I am a pacifist Roman Catholic who became a conscientious objector to war in 1971 base on religious teachings.

In 1985 I reconnected with the Catholic peace movement after contacting the bishop of Amarillo, Tx Leroy Mathiessen after I had met him at an airport by accident(?). I joined Pax Christi and pledged the vow of nonviolence based on the teachings of Jesus.

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at 1:10 PM Alta said...

Dear Dr. Fox,

Tomorrow I am going to mass. When the collection plate is passed around, I will be dropping in a coupon that reads: I am setting aside my weekly donation to my parish (5 dollars) which will be reedeemable when the Church reopens official and sincere discussions concerning the ordination of women, homosexuals and married persons.

at 5:29 PM MysticHeart said...

I think you need to put on the comment filter to guard against comment spam.

at 7:50 PM Rey Hinckley said...

I just got a copy of A New Reformation:... and I am feeling like I have found someone who is alive who is saying what Jesus would say. Months before he died, Richard P. McSorley, S.J. told me ' I'm sorry you are having such a hard time with the church. That's because the Church is not following God's plan, or the divine command, "Thou shalt not kill." The Church has been doing that for 1700 years. In the Lord's Prayer, you have "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." And in the ten commandments, you have the command, "Thou shalt not kill." '
I believe that we need more people who will speak out like Dick and Matthew.
My question is whether Matthew had considered becoming a member of the United Catholic Church, a church that was trying to follow the teachings of the Pre Constantine church.

Peace Rey Hinckley

at 9:22 PM Br. Michael OPJB said...

Great blog Fr. Matthew! Ever think of joining the Anglican Order of Preachers? I for one would love to have you.

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at 3:47 AM Roger Kuhrt, PhD said...

I suspect, from my extenstive involvement with the internet and Blogs that Matthew is as "dead" as this Blog--i mean not to have a new idea in over a year. Sheeeeit man that is a slow brain!

Cheerfully, The Rev. Roger Kuhrt, PhD

at 4:49 AM Dare said...

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at 11:18 AM Marie said...

Thesis number 47 states that the three paths of purgation, illumination and union do not derive from the Jewish and Biblical tradition. Where do they derive from?

at 6:41 PM Barbara Padgett said...

I used to make fun of Ratzinger by emphasizing the "Rat" in his name; I then met my nieces two pet rats, Sophia and Gemini, and realized they did not deserve to be insulted in such a manner. At any rate, thank you for this latest wonderful gift. How trite it must sound but thank you for everything! I read "Confessions" and have some idea of your pain upon being ejected from the Catholic Church but, had that not happened, you never would have reached such a heretic and infidel as myself. I saw your cosmic mass in Lexington, Ky. in the summer of 2000 and it was a peak experience for me. The next day I shared something of my childhood experiece (raised by fundies,etc.) with the group and you defined my experience as "spiritual abuse." Thank you for playing such a large role in the healing of a stranger. I am making plans to become one of the students at Wisdom U.

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at 1:02 PM Fey Wren said...

I think it's really sad that you aren't blogging anymore. I've found all your books inspiring and Godfilled.

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at 1:02 PM Fey Wren said...

I think it's really sad that you aren't blogging anymore. I've found all your books inspiring and Godfilled.

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at 11:58 PM Marshmallow Mouse said...

Fr. Fox,
Since I converted to Catholicism in 1976 at age 11, I have sought the spirit of what the Church offered, but have never refused that spirit when offered thru other sources. I found a cassette tape of yours 3 years ago at a close-out on cassettes, and bought it without knowing who you were or what you represented. But that cassette tape changed my life. Suddenly I understood how it all fit together and what my real quest was. I cannot thank you enough for speaking truth to power, for calling for justice, and for not honoring earthly titles when the people who hold them only seek to deceive and withhold the Divine from the people of the earth. Blessings and peace to you, good soul. ~Sue

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at 8:33 AM Samuel said...

Fr Matthew, Thank you for speaking truth to power. I see and I hear another Power in your words. Your words are filled with the Spirit, and remind us all that Diety is available to each of us directly, and cannot be contained nor dispensed exclusively via any institution of man. Blessings be on you, as you have been, and are, a blessing to all who have heard you.

Deo Gratias.


at 8:54 PM Jeaux said...

Dear Matthew,

I read you book on the New Reformation and then passed it onto my uncle who is a retired Catholic priest.

Why do I feel that you are trying to sow a piece of new cloth on an old wineskin? Christianity as a world movement, I believe, is an endangered species that is finally dying. It is so genetically inbred with hatred and intollerance that I cannot see it breeding a healthy ospring in time to save itself from extinction. There are many more positive spiritual movements that have already stepped in to the negative vaccum. The New Testament as we have it is not a safe book nore is it inheritly a moral book considering its current usage by Fundamentalist protestants and hyper-conservative Catholics. I can accept the Christ you portray in words and deeds but not the Jesus of Orthodoxy with its blood soaked creeds and its history of bloodshed. I read your essay on the Black Madonna and all I can remark is that you have ebraced a spiritual path that leads to happiness. I cannot say this for most of the rest of what passes for Christian in the United States. My faith is not in a denomination, movement, church, or institution. Dogmas and beliefs mean little to me outside of actual postive practice. Negative beliefs such as original sin have no outlet of genuine pracice becaue they are are not founded on the truth of human experience and biology. I volunter at an addiction treatment center where I have encountered hundreds of people who have a foggy venner of Christian beliefs in a punishing god who they are too terrified of to admit the truth. I speak often to them to junk that negative punishing conception and find a positve nurturing and caring conception that will transform their lives. Some are so locked into their old mindset that they never adopt a positive deity and rapidly return to their addictions. Christianity have not only failed these people but it has damned them as wll- not to eternal torment but the a torment of addiction. There are days that I wish I could make them forget their orge deity but then that is beyond what I can do as a volunteer. These kids are in this facility becase our American society has lied to them and becaue our American form of Christianity has lied to them. The addictions a merely symptoms of a much deeper societal illness that is not being addrssed. I tried to be a good Methodist for 7 years and finally realized that I did not believe in the god that my co-religionist believed in. I quit trying to make the Christ figure conform to their credal Jeaus. The Christ never recognized the boundaries and limitations of Christianity anyway. I use shoeboxes to store items quite alot. But when the box starts to tear and looses the intergrety of a box I dispose of it. Christianity has become such a box for me. It could never contain the divine no matter how much I tried to get the divine to cooperate by fitting into my box. God boxes are only useful if they are open to new contents and fresh ideas. I think the hampster died in his box. Trying to ressurect him just won't work. What is needed is to bury the old box and get another hampster.


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at 11:47 PM MatthewJohnson said...

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at 5:15 AM fadybahig said...

I have wrote a comparison between Matthew Fox and Stephan Hoeller of the Gnostic church here:

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at 2:48 PM terrilinnea said...

Dear Rev. Fox, I have so many friends who are "Recovering Catholics" and who seem to shut down a sacred part of themselves at the mention of anything spiritual. As a newly ordained Interfaith Minister (from One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in NYC) I would like to help gently heal these old wounds my friends still suffer. I will be at the Cosmic Mass and at your Saturday morning breakfast in NYC. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions on healing and turning back on the wonder and joy of spirituality. also, you can comment to
With Respect, Thank you.

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