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Christian Mystics


reviewed by Kristine Morris

365 Readings and Meditations

By Matthew Fox

Christian Mystics“Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more than they are doing now … take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong.” This quote from Dietrich Bonhoffer characterizes what makes Matthew Fox’s book of meditations and reflections so compelling: they are taken from those whose lives give witness and testimony to their faith, and whose faith went far beyond adherence to a prescribed set of practices. Rather, it was the result of a heart filled with love for the Creator of all created things. Bonhoffer was a German Lutheran pastor who escaped the Nazis, only to return to Germany to “share the tribulations of this time” with his people. He was arrested and hanged for his opposition to Hitler, shortly before the Americans liberated the prison in which he had been held.

Fox has also suffered for his stand with the weak: he was a member of the Roman Catholic Dominican Order for 34 years and held to the mystical teachings of Christianity that included the embrace of the feminine, love for the natural world, and taking a stand for social justice. His vision for what true Christianity could be put him at odds with the Vatican, and in 1998 he was expelled from his order by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.

The author has mined the thoughts and reflections of some of Christianity’s greatest mystics who, during the past 2,000 years, have spoken louder with their lives than ever they could have done with mere words. Brief biographies tell the price they paid for taking a stand: Bonhoffer, the Rev. Martin Luther King, the Russian philosopher Nicolai Berdyaev, and others paid with their lives for challenging the orthodoxies of their day. Fourteenth-century hermitess Julian of Norwich lived in solitude to devote herself to her mystical visions, and Pedro Casaldaglia, a poet and bishop in Mato Grosso, Brazil, was silenced by the Vatican for his stand on behalf of the poor, the Indians, and the forests of his country during the time that Brazil’s military government was arresting, torturing, and killing his fellow priests.

Matthew Fox has written 28 books and holds a doctorate in the history and theology of spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris. He is the founder of the University of Creation Spirituality in California, a workshop leader, and a visiting scholar with the Academy for the Love of Learning. The readings and meditations in Christian Mystics call us to the inner stillness that invites personal encounter with the divine and to the action that is its witness in the world.

 


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BooksReligionHistorySpiritualityChristianityMystics

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