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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh
Lessons for Transforming Evil in Soul and Society
Matthew Fox
Harmony Books 05/99 Hardcover $25.00
ISBN: 0-609-60087-7

"Mix Plato's denigration of the body with an uncritical application of Paul's notion of flesh as sin, and you have a negative cocktail that has haunted Christianity for centuries," writes Matthew Fox (The Reinvention of Work). The founder of the University of Creation Spirituality boldly presents a vibrant theology of spirit to encompass a revised understanding of sin that includes "our capacity for destruction and alienation, self-hatred and social resentment, luxurious living among gross injustice." Fox's intention here is to suggest concrete ways to heal sin, or in the words of Martin Buber "to deprive evil of its power."

In the opening chapters, the author uses a scientific cosmology and a creation-centered spirituality to celebrate the blessings of the flesh. Because Christians believe in the carnal in the Incarnation, they can reverence the wonders of their own bodies and of the natural world. Fox spins out a stirring and impressive Whitmanesque litany of the enchantments of the flesh of the universe.

Setting out to totally recontextualize evil and humanity's complicity in it, the author interweaves an exploration of the Western tradition of the seven deadly sins and an Eastern understanding of the seven chakras. This practice in deep ecumenism yields many insights into the rampant follies of our times. For example, misdirected love in the first chakra (cosmology) results in acedia and its offspring (despair, boredom, cosmic loneliness, restlessness of spirit, arrogance, racism, injustice, and ingratitude). In the final chapter, Fox outlines seven positive precepts for living a full and spirited life.

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh deepens and enriches many of Matthew Fox's most important ideas about good and evil. It gives us a visionary, practical, and mystical theology that can stand up against the principalities and powers of our time. Here is a trusty resource to carry into the next millenium, a sourcebook of insight.


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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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