Thursday, August 12, 2010

“The Hidden Spirituality of Men: ten metaphors to awaken the sacred masculine,” by Matthew Fox

“The Hidden Spirituality of Men: ten metaphors to awaken the sacred masculine,” by Matthew Fox, continues to fascinate me in its calm, thoughtful, soul searching, intellectually stimulating delivery of a griot.

To Matthew Fox, our crucial task is to open our minds to a deeper understanding of the healthy masculine than we receive from our media, culture, and religions. Popular religion forces the punitive imagery of fundamentalism on us, pushing most men away from their natural yearning for spirituality and toward intolerance and domination. Meanwhile, many men, particularly young men, are looking for images of healthy masculinity to emulate and finding nothing.

To awaken what Fox calls, “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Grandfatherly Heart to the Spiritual Warrior. He explores archetypes of sacred marriage, showing how partnership becomes the ultimate expression of healthy masculinity. By stirring our natural yearning for healthy spirituality, Fox argues, these timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to reinvent the world.

It is the conversation I’ve always wanted to have with men about man's role in our lives and one that I hope both women and men will be able to explore. Let’s all read and chat shall we?


Anonymous said...

Is this the "Iron John" of the 21st century? As a woman, am I allowed to comment?

Anonymous said...

I have wondered what is the difference between being spiritual and being religious...About being religious, I was helped by Mark Twain who said: "Man is the Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Ani­mal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion, several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his theology isnt straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brothers path to happiness and heaven. He was at it in the time of the Caesars, he was at it in Mahomets time, he was at it in the time of the Inquisition, he was at it in France a couple of cen­turies, he was at it in England in Marys day, he has been at it ever since he first saw the light, he is at it today in Crete (as per the telegrams quoted above) he will be at it somewhere else tomor­row. The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out, in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste."

So what is spirituality and how does it differ from religion?

Anonymous said...

Most of the great religious traditions (a la Ken Wilber) have a common Spiritual core. They agree that:
1. Spirit, by whatever name, exists.
2. Spirit, although existing "out there," is found "in here," or revealed within to the open heart and mind.
3. Most of us don't realize this Spirit within, however, because we are living in a world of sin, separation, or duality — that is, we are living in a fallen, illusory, or fragmented state.
4. There is a way out of this fallen state (of sin or illusion or disharmony), there is a Path to our liberation.
5. If we follow this Path to its conclusion, the result is a Rebirth or Enlightenment, a direct experience of Spirit within and without, a Supreme Liberation, which
6. Marks the end of sin and suffering, and
7. Manifests in social action of mercy and compassion on behalf of all sentient beings.

Does a list something like that make sense to you? Because if there are these general spiritual patterns in the cosmos, at least wherever human beings appear, then this changes everything. You can be a practicing Christian and still agree with that list; you can be a practicing Neopagan and still agree with that list.

It seems as if there are almost two different kinds of religion, one of which brutally divides, and one of which unites (or can unite). How do we tell them apart, and how might we begin to switch allegiance from the former to the latter?

Janet said...

Yes, but of course women may contribute. My comment was not meant to discourage women, but rather to encourage men to contribute to this conversation.

Clearly the politically charged feminist movement indicates that women have considered Fox's metaphors regarding the world view of man's responsibility with the nature and their women of the world. However, Fox comes at his reader for the same reasons, but in a more spiritual and metaphorical manner giving us a vocabulary in which to chat.

Anonymous, I welcome your comments.

Anonymous said...

Man does not live by bread alone...Modern man has forgotten the most important lesson about inter-connection of it all...“There is no easy formula for determining right and wrong livelihood, but it is essential to keep the question alive. To return the sense of dignity and honor to manhood, we have to stop pretending that we can make a living at something that is trivial or destructive and still have sense of legitimate self-worth. A society in which vocation and job are separated for most people gradually creates an economy that is often devoid of spirit, one that frequently fills our pocketbooks at the cost of emptying our souls.”

Janet said...

The ten archetypes or models of masculinity of which Fox writes are: Father Sky; the Green Man; Icarus and Daedalus; Hunter-Gatherers; Spiritual Warriors; Masculine Sexuality, Numinous Sexuality; Cosmic and Animal Bodies; the Blue Man; Earth Father; Grandfather Sky.

Fox’s explanations told in stories from Native American, Greek Mythology Roman, philosophers and Catholicism are scholarly and exhibit such clarity in his writing. I found myself stopping many times in reading this book because Fox leaves you in profound contemplation about man and his relationship to the cosmos. This is a book I could be reading and discussing for months. I hope you are enjoying this book as much as I am. Here are some of my thoughts and questions.

What is the sacred aspect about “man” that causes us to refer to our world as a "man’s world"?

Father Sky (specifically pgs 15-17)
How do you feel about Fox relating his understanding about how the world became the spirit of man and nature became the spirit of women? Does this conflict with religion?

In describing the relationship between Father Sky and Mother Earth Fox relates the scientists Primack’s and Abrams’ 6 ways in which the Earth is special because of the relationship between Father Sky and Mother Earth. Here in lies a clue to how Fox gets from religion to spirituality via cosmology. Where the resulting spirituality trumps traditional religious thinking. How creative is that? Could this way of thinking help to bring a better global understanding of man?

Janet said...

Green Man (specifically pg 26-27)
Champions of the ecology have existed in every generation but this generation since the late 80’s has been especially focused and vocal. Is it because man’s relationship with Nature is off-balance or is it because people, “man” realizes that we are losing natural resources faster than we can create alternatives that we can live with and this translates into a monetary crisis hence a shifting in our power bases—figuratively and literally?

Is our view of how men and women relate and the roles we play in our world presented to us through nature, religion, or politics? Which in your opinion was presented to man first or has it been all three in an assault of our senses?

Janet said...

Spiritual Warriors pg 77
Fox uses the metaphor that man is no longer a warrior but a soldier. One seeks to find his place within nature as in the warrior and the soldier wants to conquer nature to yield it to one’s convenience. Herein lies Fox’s definition of the conflict where man needs to resolve his relationship to balance himself and reconcile with the world around us.
I believe that Fox feels spirituality puts man more in commune with nature taking part in it as opposed to trying to dominate it. Using the world’s resources for need and not excess. It’s Green Man and Father sky chapters.