I interviewed Matthew Fox on February 13th. This is part two of a two part interview. Here's a link to the audio podcast. And here's a link to part one of the interview. Transcript Part 1: Former Catholic Priest Matthew Fox on Ratzinger, Opus Dei and the Broken Catholic Church
Thanks to Don Caldarazzo for doing the transcript.
I met Matthew Fox about nine years ago when we were both speakers at the first Mythic Journeys conference an amazing event bringing together writers, mythologists, psychologists, poets. At the time, I was running the Storycon Conference on the art science and application of story, which I'd founded two years earlier, and which ran for six years.
Matthew Fox was first stopped from teaching Liberation Theology by Cardinal Ratzinger, then defrocked. He has since lived an extraordinary life. But he also brings a unique point of view on Pope Benedict, the next pope the college of cardinals will choose and today's Catholic Church.
by pope image from wikipedia
interview part II
Rob Kall: So, there are some speculations about who will replace Ratzinger. What are your thoughts on that? It sounds to me like you think it's...
Matthew Fox: As I said earlier, I would be completely surprised if there was any real pressure there, because all of these Cardinals who are voting and being voting on were appointed by Ratzinger or John Paul II. So they were all appointed for being Yes Men. That's one of the scariest things that's happened in the Church the last forty  years, is they've only put in Yes Men, they haven't signed a document, they have not talked about Womens' ordination, they have not talked about married Priests, they won't question that Birth Control might be a dumb idea, when there's already enough humans on the planet, etc. So they had these people sign up with extreme Right wing positions, and then they climb up the ladder.
It's a closed system, and the truth is, closed systems are contrary to nature. Nothing in nature works, can survive, as a closed system. It's in a death spiral. I just don't think -- you know the media loves the Papacy. It's made for the media, really, because they can zero in on one person who is wearing pretty robes in Historic buildings and all this stuff -- it just really captures the eye! So they turn Pope's into cult figures, and with very, very little critical thinking behind it, so I just think it's dangerous to be projecting so much on one person and one institution.
And I think that's why the Holy Spirit is deconstructing it. I mean, it's losing it's credibility, and I think we have to -- religion is not as lazy as that. Religion has to be Spirituality, it has to be a struggle, it has to be some inner work, and some intellectual work, and grass roots - just what you're talking about, that we have to reinvent Christianity from the grass roots up. That's what we want to do, Harvey and I, with our program called "The Christ Path." We want to take this moment in history.
I mean, the real issues are not about Popes, the real issues are about the survival of the planet for God's sake! You know, these are the Spiritual issues of our time, and of course, melting our war machine into real work for real people. There's so much unemployment in the world, when there's so much work that needs doing and so forth, it makes no sense. Humans have to wake up. That's what has to happen, and a healthy church would be leading the way in that, it wouldn't be narcissistically preoccupied with it's own make believe heroes, idols. "Papalolatry," I call it. The new sin of our time. When the television marries the Vatican, you have Papalolatry. And it's an idol, it's an idolatry, it's not real religion. Projection.
Rob Kall: Papalolatry. Interesting term. So, OK. You've got this vision. "Humans have to wake up, and a healthy church would be leading the way in that." What would that look like as it emerges? And there are what, 1.3 billion Catholics? How would it grow? How would it become habit and identity and recognition? How would the Vatican respond to it, or has it responded to it? I guess it's already responded to it in terms of Liberation Theology, but if, as you're saying, "It's time now for something new to emerge," how will it look? Tell me a bit about that.
Matthew Fox: One thing is, it would be ecumenical, what I call "Deep ecumenism (oecumenism?)" With that I mean, let's make out the essence, the distillation of the teachings of Jesus and Buddha and Mohammed and Isaiah and Lao Tzu and Black Elk and other great spiritual teachers of the world. I think that clearly no one religion has all the answers, we're all struggling today as a species, and so we can draw common wisdom. I've written a book on this called One River, Many Wells, where I take eighteen  themes that I think are common to all of humans today. It's about survival, the sacredness of creation, for example. The whole environmental issue. Meditation, calming that reptilian brain that we have. All religions teach how to do these things.
Compassion: the Dalai Lama says "we can do away with all religions, but we can't do away with compassion. Compassion is my religion." Well, cool! That's what Jesus said too: " Be you compassionate as your Creator in heaven is compassionate." So, there is a consensus out there that's at the heart of our religion. If you stay at the superficial level, then you don't get down to this stuff and you're just talking about people in white robes, or my bible is better than your bible, and all the rest. We can't afford that anymore as a species.
So, that's one dimension, the ecumenical. But of course, for that to work, you have to get into your own tradition, and say "What was the essence of what Jesus what about? What did he really teach, and what Spirit did he unleash in the world?" And that's where it gets interesting and exciting, and very, very beautiful, because Jesus was a revolutionary teacher about love and justice, and he took down the empire of his day, the Roman Empire, and he knew he was doing it. After all, his mentor John the Baptist was beheaded when Jesus was a young man because he took on the empire.
So, that kind of courage, that kind of spirit of generosity is what the great Christians through the years, whether it's Martin Luther King Jr., or Hildegaard of Bingen, the great saint, and so forth, and what they accomplished. So it's doable, and it's brilliant, and it's beautiful. The West doesn't have to apologize for the beauty that's in the Jewish tradition of the prophetic standing up to power. We have to do more of it. Much more of it. Of course when we don't, then of course we have things like the Holocaust and the horrible goings on that occur whenever humans put power ahead of love.