Matthew Fox, one of the Living Spiritual Teachers profiled at Spirituality & Practice, is a scholar in residence with the Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is the author of 28 books including Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet. He was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years and is currently lecturing, teaching, and writing. Fox is president of Friends of Creation Spirituality, the nonprofit that he created in 1984.
In this ambitious and wide-ranging book, Fox takes a hard look at the Sacred Masculine. Sadly, our culture offers a stunted and limiting repertoire of images of men: they are competitive and obsessed with winning; they are at war in all departments of their lives; they are rational and unable to deal with their emotions; and they eagerly embrace homophobia. The drive to dominate is predominant in their relationships with their own bodies, women, nature, and work. Fox offers alternative ancient and new masculine images that will enable men to tap into their true spiritual selves:
• Father Sky: The Cosmos Lives!
• The Green Man
• Icarus and Daedalus
• Spiritual Warriors
• Masculine Sexuality, Numinous Sexuality
• Our Cosmic and Animal Bodies
• The Blue Man
• Earth Father: The Fatherly Heart
• Grandfather Sky: The Grandfatherly Heart
These metaphors, myths, and archetypes are presented in the hope that men may forge a fresh and healthy masculinity that transcends the stereotypes promulgated by the media, culture, and religion. To illustrate these models, Fox includes excerpts from interviews he has conducted over the years with men who have wrestled with their own intensely personal spiritual issues.
Among the many subjects covered in this trenchant survey of the Sacred Masculine are his celebration of the relationship of Father Sky and Mother Earth that engenders wonder for the cosmos, the awakening of the ecological Green Man within us, the art of turning anger into creativity, the hunt for spiritual truth, the four steps to spiritual warriorhood, the quest for a numinous masculine sexuality that also honors and learns from homosexuals, and incorporating the curiosity of the Blue Man as we seek to learn and expand our minds. We especially liked the sections on nurturing the "fatherly heart," which is caring, giving, generous, listening; which looks to the future and sees the big picture; and which is protecting and instructing. The "grandfatherly heart" moves beyond retirement to "refirement," mentoring, and wisdom.
Fox delivers an overview of the sacred unions which can grow out of the Sacred Masculine. Here he discusses recognizing and honoring the feminine (falling in love), the sacred marriage of Father Sky and Mother Earth (cosmos), the sacred marriage of nature between the Green Man and the Black Madonna; and yin and yang as the sacred marriage of balance and harmony. Other weddings which interest Fox are the merging of East and West, body and soul, Protestant and Catholic, humans and divine, lay and monastic practices, indigenous and postmodern, left and right brains, gays and straights, young and old, spirit and soul.
Fox makes it clear that shame and aggression are at the core of our culture's understanding of masculinity. The spiritual quality of joy is lost in this emphasis. He concludes:
"We are missing a profound joy when we feel we do not belong to the Sky or to the Earth and its creatures; to ancestral lines of hunters or to a noble clan of warriors; to a family and healthy adult/child relationships; to a healthy sexual relationship and to the beauty and health of one's own body; to an expanding consciousness and creativity that engage one's God-like powers of compassion and justice; or to a circle of elders who support one another and serve the young."