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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blessings of creation, 23 Dec. 2005
This review is from: Original Blessing (Paperback)
'Just to be is a blessing.
Just to live is holy.'
-- Abraham Heschel
I first discovered the book 'Original Blessing' by Matthew Fox about a dozen years ago; originally published in 1983, it has become a widely read and used spiritual guide for many. My first experience of this book (and I do consider it a genuine experience) coincided with my first trip to St. Gregory's Abbey, a benedictine monastery with which I've maintained a connexion over the years. This book was a wonderful accompaniment for that spiritual retreat, and has remained a favourite book to be packed for reference and review each time I go on another.
Fox has organised the book into four broad sections, or paths:
Path I: Befriending Creation--the Via Positiva
This path explores creation, activity, beauty and justice, panentheism (the idea of God in everything), a sense of realised eschatology (something akin to the saying that 'the kingdom of God is in you'), incarnation and personal freedom and worthiness.
Path II: Befriending Darkness, Letting Go and Letting Be--the Via Negativa
This path explores those things which sometimes get in the way, such as pain, emptiness, silence, negative things--however, new perspective is sought (for example, it is into the silence that God often speaks; without silence, the voice is not heard). This is perhaps the most beautiful part of the book for me at times, as it helps in times of trouble -- as Meister Eckhart states, 'Remember this: All suffering comes to an end. And whatever you suffer authentically, God has suffered from it first.'
Path III: Befriending Creativity, Befriending our Divinity--the Via Creativa
This path is perhaps the most fun part of the book, as it engages the creative flow of art, music, conversation and writing. It explores how our lives as works of art bring beauty back into the world, and how creativity is a form of birthing that which was not here before. In a unique perspective, Fox uses an analogy of creativity as being co-creators of the cosmos with God.
Path IV: Befriending New Creation--Compassion, Celebration, Erotic Justice, the Via Transformativa
This path shows the way of the future as a time that can be present, images of God in motion in the world and at work in people everywhere, and explores issues of process and liberation theologies which look for justice and loving community.
Fox attributes the Via Positiva as being part of a theology of creation and incarnation, the Via Negativa as being part of a theology of the cross, the Via Creativa as part of a theology of resurrection, and the Via Transformativa as a theology of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps the one great theme that permeates all writing is that of life as a blessing. This is the original blessing, from which all other blessings derive. Fox calls on people to live prophetic lives, calling upon the works of historians, artists, writers, prophets, and others through the ages. These people have conversations with each other on the pages of this book, and a truly remarkable spirit comes to life through this book.
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