Matthew Fox is an internationally acclaimed spiritual theologian and an Episcopal priest and activist. We consider Fox to be a true visionary and appreciate his incredible energy and insight. With endless reserves of wisdom, perseverance, and patience, he has revived the ancient tradition of Creation Spirituality and published an astonishing array of books on the Western mystical tradition with works on Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas, Hildegard of Bingen, and others.
In his 1995 book The Reinvention of Work, Fox set out to deliver a new paradigm of this pivotal dimension of our lives. Considering work to be the expression of our souls, he linked it to creativity, relationships, community, compassion, justice, and "the Great Work of the Universe."
In another arena, Fox has put his passion for worship into collaborations with Anglican youth of the "rave" generation. The result has been the "Techno-Cosmic Mass" that blends music, dance, and contemporary art forms with the liturgical tradition. This post-modern form of worship has great appeal for spiritually independent seekers.
With this book, Fox offers his revisioning of education. A.W.E stands for Ancestral Wisdom Education. It honors the teachings of the ancestors, nurtures wisdom as well as knowledge, and educates through an new pedagogy that Fox has designed after more than 40 years of teaching. It is centered on the 10 C's: cosmology, creativity, contemplation, chaos, critical thinking, community, ceremony, compassion, courage, and character development. With the book is a DVD featuring original compositions based on the 10 C's by Hip Hop artist Professor Pitt, who is part of a worldwide movement of rappers for justice.
Central to this Fox's revisioning of education is an awe-based approach to life and learning. He notes: "Awe is the door, the portal, the threshold to immensity." Think of the Grand Canyon and the Chartres Cathedral or the gigantic and remarkable capacities of our bodies and our brains.
The poets and seers from all the wisdom traditions teach us to be reverent in the presence of all things, to create daily practices of awe and gratitude. Fox pays tribute to the emphasis of the pre-modern era on the spiritual practice of wonder. Young and old were awed and shivered by the stars, the planets, the seasons, plants, and animals. Fox believes that modern-day science can now wow children as a source of awe and wonder. So he shares facts such as "One million earths can fit inside the sun" or "There are prairie grasses in the Midwest whose roots are 10,000 miles long."
For Fox, awe "overrides pain, suffering, injustice, and mistreatment." It is the passion that can bring change and make all things new. That is why it is so needed in education. Whereas many others have dreamed about educational change, Fox's A.W.E. program has been put into effect with YELLAWE, an experimental inner city youth project. The Celtic poet W. B. Yeats stated: "Education is not about filling a pail but about lighting a fire." Fox's celebration of awe and his efforts at the spiritual renewal of education light a fire which hopefully will be a beacon to other reformers.