I think of Matthew Fox as the captain of my soul. Visits with him are always a high point of any trip I make to California. He is the guru of one of the most vibrant spiritual movements in the world today. It is called "Creation Spirituality," and one of the things that makes it remarkable is the way it is rooted in what is already familiar to us. It is a pragmatic faith, embracing the body as it enhances the soul.
Creation Spirituality is very physical and Matthew attaches great importance to physical rituals. He writes, "It is in ritual that communities come together to heal, to celebrate, to bring out people's talents, to unite generations in a common origin story and therefore in a common morality." In other words, ritual is a glue that holds communities together. Or at least it would be if our society gave it the status it deserves.
I agree with Matthew that ritual has become dull and anemic in our society. He believes many of the self-esteem problems that plague our society have to do with our divorce from the world of ritual. Watching TV, boozing down at the pub, gardening -- they're about as ritualized as we let ourselves be, though in an odd way, even these express our primal hunger for connection. Starved for ritual, young people have tried to create their own rituals. Consider, for example, rave culture, with its rituals of drugs and dancing, which show a pure hunger for transcendental experiences.
Imagine channeling that hunger. Well, it's been done to great effect by visionary teachers in Oakland and Ohio using Matthew's theories about art and education. Given the opportunity to express themselves creatively through everything experiences as diverse as from dance and painting to electronic music and computer technology, tough, young dropouts have been learning from and teaching one another at Matthew's Center for Creation Spirituality. Their creativity is no longer bottled up or expressed through violence.
So I'm not alone in feeling that I never stop learning when I'm around Matthew. His is a message I'm happy to spread. If you're ever in the San Francisco Bay Area, do try to attend a "Techno Cosmic Mass," a rave-style ritual unlike anything you've ever experienced. You won't be sorry.