Sunday Devotional: Matthew Fox, Cosmic Mass

Note: This post will make a lot more sense if you read The Nine ‘O Clock Service: The Vibrant, Troubling Birth of the Emerging Church first.

Today’s Sunday Devotional is sure to raise some ambivalence – but no one processing religion, faith, and spirituality in a post*(everything) world can afford to ignore Matthew Fox – tempestuous, flamboyant, inventive; priest, artist, liturgist and theologian. The defrocked Catholic-turned-Episcopal priest was (with the unlikely influence-pairing of Vineyard revitalizer John Wimber) responsible for inspiring what was arguably the first ever emerging/postmodern congregation in the mid-1980s – the brilliant, controversial, combustible Nine O’ Clock Service. Inspired by a Wimber prophecy at St. Thom‘s in Sheffield and nurtured by Fox’s Creation Spirituality amongst working-class rave culture, the NOS was a potpourri of influences and expression.

The message is as straightforward as it is apparently elusive to many “spiritual leaders” today: The person and message of Christ and the Christian mystery must be not only applied to, but interpreted by, the Janus-faced Crises/Opportunities we face today: political, economic, cultural, and ecological. When we mine our Scripture, tradition, poetry, and luminaries on the one hand, and nature, art, science, and global cosmologies on the other hand, real magic can happen.

Even after it’s untimely demise, the NOS’s ‘Planetary Mass’ idea – shades of Teilhard de Chardin‘s Mass on the World – re-caught the attention of Fox himself, who brought it back to the US as a ‘Techno-Cosmic Mass.’ To this day, there are many interested in applying the ideas of Original Blessing and Creation Spirituality to communal expressions, as well as many of wide variety of theological persuasions interested in alternative worship expressions.

“Eyes on a page are not really a way to open the heart up,” says Fox. To see footage from his Cosmic Mass in Oakland, see this video here. If you’re part of a worshiping community, join me in considering: How can we bring more beauty and awe into our worship, drawing from the deep wells of our tradition, from ecology, and from postmodern culture? 

For a compendium alt.worship resources, go here. Also see Fox’s YouTube channel.

If you’re interested in exploring the myriad of ways in which apprentices to Jesus can navigate change in the 21st century – in our worship, our spiritual formation, our way of engaging the crises and opportunities we face today – I hope you join me at Co-Creation 2012, happening this April 12-15. Brian McLaren, Diana Butler-Bass, and Integral Christianity author Paul Smith will be joining with the Servant Leadership School of Greensboro, North Carolina and a half-dozen artists and musicians to bring a truly unforgettable, interactive experience. To register, click here; to read more about this in an in-depth blog post, go here.

Portions of this were originally posted on February 7, 2010. 

13 Responses to Sunday Devotional: Matthew Fox, Cosmic Mass

  1. Christopher Cocca February 9, 2010 at 6:14 am #

    I really thought this was going to be a Lost post.

  2. zoecarnate February 9, 2010 at 1:58 pm #


  3. Cathryn February 10, 2010 at 5:55 am #

    thanks Mike…….. yeppers…. yeppers….. yeppers. thanks for reminding too!!! blessings.

  4. Mary Perry-McCormick February 11, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    hi Mike … I’m lovin’ me some Matthew Fox … his book Creativity is simply inspired …. thank God for someone SO wise…. excellent clip

  5. jeffcstraka February 11, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    I, too, love the message of Matthew Fox. Have you read his “95 Theses”?

  6. zoecarnate February 11, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Thanks Cathryn!

    Yes, Mary, I enjoy ‘Creativity’ too.

    Jeff, haven’t read 95 Theses – my faves are Original Blessing, Becoming a Musical, Mystical Bear, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, and his translation/commentary on Meister Eckhart (amazing if you haven’t read it).

    And any heresy-hunters out there, this disclaimer is for you:

    WhileIappreciatetheworkofMatthewFoxappreciationisnottobemistakenforcollusionineveryjotandtittle. 🙂

  7. zoecarnate February 11, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    aww. it cut off. My disclaimer is meant to finish:


    I hope that clears things up!

  8. Kevin March 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Based on personal experience – an Episcopal priest once told me to take my “cookies” elsewhere – and my understanding of early Church history – it can take twenty years to advance from conversion experience to fully developed non-dual consciousness – looking at how religious institutions approach mystical experience and how they act rationally and critically, things get more rational and less mystical the farther up you go in the hierarchy. I don’t see this as a negative, not necessarily. But it makes me wonder. How would individuals and faith communities feel about participating in regularly scheduled audits to assess their health and well-being? It doesn’t feel right to me. I can imagine you’d find me among the first to object to such oversight. But in the absence of some kind of critical, rational and disinterested review the risk that things will go haywire increases as practice becomes more mystical and less aligned with tradition. It seems to me anyway.

  9. Brian March 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    Thanks for posting about caring for Creation. Matthew Fox is a prophetic rock star when it comes to caring for God’s world. He’s been a huge influence on my work. If you’re interested in how his stuff influences my stuff, check out some of my Creation-honoring songs, liturgies, and other resources:


  1. Truthspeaker’s Weblog - June 7, 2010

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  4. The Nine ‘O Clock Service: The Vibrant, Troubling Birth of the Emerging Church | Mike Morrell - April 25, 2018

    […] Update: Wondering what a NOS-styled ‘Planetary Mass’ would look like in the US, minus the scandal? Check out Sunday Devotional: Matthew Fox, Cosmic Mass […]

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