The following is an excerpt of Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action, a compelling anthology of Creation Spirituality, applied. It’s a featured Speakeasy selection.
Humanity finds itself today in a complex situation. Most Westernized people have been so heavily dominated and alienated by religion and patriarchal governance and a materialistic, consumer-driven, extractive capitalism that we have lost our active sense of the sacred living landscapes that we inhabit and that inhabit us.
We, Matthew Fox, a 76-year-old elder, activist, and spiritual theologian; along with Skylar Wilson, a 33-year-old wilderness and meditation guide who leads inter-cultural ceremonies, and Jennifer Listug, a 28-year-old writer, spiritual leader, and publicist, are presenting a challenge and an opportunity. This vision is about an Order of the Sacred Earth.
In times like ours, so marked by apocalyptic goings-on, from climate change to climate change denial, to the failures of education, media, politics, economics, and religion, it is important that we not succumb to despair or to non-action or to reptilian brain action-reaction. We need to go deeper within our own souls and within the genius of our species to find anew what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community.” Yes, we are witnessing the death of institutions and systems, and of the era that is not serving us nor our Earth well any longer. We need to journey into this dying in order to break into new forms of community, religion, spirituality, and education that will give birth to deeper forms of living and interacting with one another and other beings on this small, intertwined planet. Nothing short of what David Korten is calling “A New Enlightenment” will suffice in activating the energies and insights now needed at this important time.
A death and resurrection is at hand. This might be expected in an apocalyptic time like ours, one where the “end time” of our modern era is fast receding and we reach for new visions. Apocalypse, after all, can also be translated as “Revelation.”
We’ve been compelled to curate a succinct collection – a short book featuring contributions from friends and colleagues. An eco-spiritual tome that provides a new vision, but one that has precedents in our Western, Eastern, and Indigenous histories. What we are proposing came to us in different ways as visions and dreams several years ago.
It is about a new spiritual (not religious) Order.
We say “not religious” because it will not be beholden to any religious headquarters nor to only one religious tradition. More and more people are open in our times to the many spiritual traditions and practices that sustain life, that teach us to drink in wisdom from the Earth herself.
Many of us are identifying ourselves at this time in history as “spiritual but not religious.” At the same time we believe it is possible for some people to be both spiritual and religious, but people must make an effort; all spirituality requires effort through presence, intention, and direct action. We include action because we are in a time when contemplation alone is insufficient in addressing the needs of our times and the more-than-human world. So our vision of a new order extends to those who call themselves spiritual but not religious, to those who identify as spiritual and religious, and also to those who may call themselves either agnostic or atheist and feel the creative potential to build a community vessel such as the Order of the Sacred Earth (OSE). What is at stake is not a particular religious or spiritual tradition but something much larger: the future of Mother Earth, and, therefore, the future of countless species including our own. All are endangered. Humans can and must make a difference.
The essence of the OSE is a common vow we all take: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
This sacred pledge is a wisdom practice that we can continually refine and develop as we evolve. This vow will underscore the principles through which we operate and the values we strive to fulfill. To understand the power of taking this vow, we look toward another sacred commitment: The marriage vow. When one takes a vow to commit to another person, then one’s life begins to orient around this new union in ways one could not have planned for or imagined before. So we believe that by taking the vow to love and defend the Earth, your life will orient around ecological and social justice in ways previously unimaginable to you.
The late eco-theologian Thomas Berry felt that recovering a sense of the sacred was at the heart of the renewal of our species. He wrote: “An absence of the sense of the sacred is the basic flaw in many of our efforts at ecologically or environmentally adjusting our human presence to the natural world. It has been said, ‘We will not save what we do not love.’ It is also true that we will neither love nor save what we do not experience as sacred.”