IONS Directory Profile

Biography

Matthew Fox is author of 26 books including Original Blessing, The Reinvention of Work, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet and One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths. He was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years. He holds a doctorate (received summa cum laude) in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris.

Seeking to establish a pedagogy that was friendly to learning spirituality, he established an Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality that operated for seven years at Mundelein College in Chicago and twelve years at Holy Names College in Oakland. For ten of those years at Holy Names College Cardinal Ratzinger, as chief Inquisitor and head of the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith (called the Office of the Holy Inquisition until 1965), tried to shut the program down. Ratzinger silenced Fox for one year in 1988 and forced him to step down as director. Three years later he expelled Fox from the Order and then had the program terminated at Holy Names College.

Rather than disband his amazing and ecumenical faculty, Fox started his own University called University of Creation Spirituality nine years ago in Oakland, California. Its name has now changed to Wisdom University and Fox is president emeritus and a teaching professor there.

The principle objections from the Congregation of the Faith to Fox’s work were that he is a "feminist theologian;" that he calls God "Mother" (Fox has proven the medieval mystical tradition did exactly that); that he prefers "original blessing" to "original sin;" that he calls God "child"; that he associates too closely with Native Americans and people of the wikka tradition; that he does not condemn homosexuals; that he has replaced the naming of the spiritual journey as Purgation, Illumination and Union with the four paths of Creation Spirituality: The Via Positiva (joy, delight and awe); the Via Negativa (darkness, silence, suffering, letting go and letting be); the Via Creativa (creativity); and the Via Transformativa (justice, compassion, interdependence).

Matthew Fox has been renewing the ancient tradition of Creation Spirituality that was named for him by his mentor, the late Father Marie Dominic Chenu, o.p., in his studies in Paris. This tradition is feminist, welcoming of the arts and artists, wisdom centered, prophetic and caring about eco-justice and social justice and gender justice issues. Fox’s effort to reawaken the West to its own mystical tradition has included revivifying awareness of Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart and the mysticism of Thomas Aquinas as well as interacting with contemporary scientists who are also mystics.

Fox is a well received lecturer who has spoken at many professional and community gatherings on many continents and in many countries around the world. Fox’s books have received numerous awards and he is recipient of the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award of which other recipients have included the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa and Rosa Parks. He has led a renewal of liturgical forms with the "Cosmic Mass" that mixes dance, techno and live music, DJ, VJ, rap and contemporary art forms with the western liturgical tradition.

Fox believes that by "reinventing work, education and worship we can bring about a non-violent revolution on our planet" and has committed himself to this vision for many years. He resides in Oakland, California.

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