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Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times Paperback – July 8, 2014
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“By connecting Eckhart’s wisdom to the problems of today, Fox creates a sense of optimistic urgency; solutions do not wait in the future or lie in the past, but are present right now if people choose to act with compassion and conviction. The book is not only an excellent introduction to Eckhart’s theology, but also an inspirational guidepost for connecting faith with activism.”
— Publishers Weekly
“In this book Matthew Fox, one of the gigantic Christians of this century, engages and presents Meister Eckhart, one of the gigantic Christians of the ages, in dialogue with some of today’s best minds. The result is a stunning new vision of Christianity that transcends both creeds and boundaries. It is a thrilling read.”
— John Shelby Spong, author of The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. No one paints as broad a portrait of the master as Fox does in this book.”
— Steven Herrmann, author of Spiritual Democracy
“I can’t imagine a richer, juicier, or more relevant introduction to the grandeur and brilliance of Meister Eckhart’s vision. Matthew Fox has given us yet another radioactive, stunning work. Every chapter is a pure, clear, and swift revelation.”
— Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism
“[Fox] not only gives us his beloved spiritual father as a living presence for our lives but also brings us a whole rainbow of mystic-warriors as companions on the way.”
— Joanna Macy, coauthor of Active Hope
“Whether our species has a future on Earth does not depend on the development of more gee-whiz technologies, but on whether we are willing to move into the psycho-spiritual dimension proclaimed by Meister Eckhart and elucidated by Matthew Fox in this important book.”
— Larry Dossey, MD, author of One Mind
“Crucial! Fox brings Eckhart’s voice into cogent meeting with a long list of pivotal global luminaries. Marrying these confluences may well determine the success or failure of our planet’s inevitable process toward globalization and multiculturalism.”
— Kurt Johnson, coauthor of The Coming Interspiritual Age
“The special uniqueness of this book lies in Matthew Fox’s ability to put a host of ancient and contemporary thinkers and social activists in close mutual relationship with Meister Eckhart. . . . With this book, Matthew Fox gives us an intimation that hope in the future is not some idle passing thought. That it is even possible to have written this book is a reminder that such spiritual searching and the worldwide diversity that accompanies it is more prevalent than one would think.”
— Fred Gustafson, Literary Aficionado
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The book spans centuries and every major belief system to expose the essential kernel of mysticism revealed as glowing through the works of a host of justly courageous (though not always popular) thinkers and activists, and whom Fox positions as exemplary voices in a comparative interface with the teachings, writings and actions of Meister Eckhart.
Condemned by papal bull post-mortem, Eckhart, a Dominican who lived around 700 years ago in Germany and France, little known to most people was nevertheless highly influential especially through his preserved writings---which over the centuries have inspired many great men and women and thus, the quite often revolutionary movements of thought and social change spearheaded by them. (The reader may be surprised to learn who among the well-known have embraced Eckhart's worldview.) Spotlighted also are many worldwide, who never having even heard of Eckhart, nevertheless were or are now prototypes of a similar thought and message---proof in itself that a mystical current of truth, independent of any physically discernible means of conveyance, runs directly from the same source and flows through the veins of all genuine humaneness.
And, the skill with which Fox is able to synthesize and transform deeply complex meaning into simple, clear revelations---is a downright breathtaking thrill to experience!
There was only one chapter which struck me as oddly incongruent..in places. "The Historical Jesus" opens with mention of the intensive work done recently by historical Jesus scholars who have whittled down the sayings of Jesus in the Bible to only 15% authentic (pp. 97-98). While their intent was allegedly to make sure that what is written isn't merely words put in his mouth by misinterpreters, or tacked on to propagate "the agendas of empires and bureaucracies" (p. 103), based on some comments by the various theologians cited, I couldn't help but wonder if the baby might be getting thrown out with the bathwater. For one thing, the emphasis on required self-annihilation and suffering (pp. 109-110) was sounding to me like a carryover from the "born sinner" themes which have always disparaged the importance of inborn inclinations towards joy and optimism, childhood itself, and the individual's intrinsically deserved sense of self-worth. "Self-annihilation,"
"self-abandonment," "self-shattering" are harsh words, are not the ones used in any traditional scriptures, and establishment of such necessity as a "lifelong principle" sounds like a persistent taboo against ever identifying one's self as a part of God too!
After wrestling quite awhile with this seeming incongruency, certain ideas came to me so strongly that I've decided to leave them here as a cushion, in case any other readers encounter a similar jolt: Acquired identity-aspects, such as the smug, conventionally-superior self as well as the convention-intimidated inferior one (which may deserve self-annihilation), are significantly different from the self which is rather automatically differently-inclined to be egalitarian---despite all onslaughts of criticisms it must suffer to remain so...When in recognition of "this" self as of the primal One, "letting go" of the "dead" self is not an extinction but a self-silenced/surrendered/relieved/welcomed expansion" from single self-conscious aloneness into greater allness-awareness...And, former conceptions---of what anyone has thought "heaven and earth" is---pass away, to be replaced by greater Clarity [ref. Matt. 24:35/Mark 13:31/Luke 21:33]. ---Perhaps, using harsher terms, this is what Eckhart and the theologians were all driving at? (I'm not sure, but all the other chapters in the book seem to be going that direction!)
Even though there were a few other questionable conjectures or superior/inferior-designative presumptions, I along with Fox also do applaud the historical researchers for bringing to life, from documented and archeological evidence, a vivid depiction of what the Roman empire-affected cultural setting looked like, because it helps us to better understand how "radically different" the changes that Jesus proposed were,as perceived in those days. (Tough situations do sometimes require "tough love," and tough words.)
Of course, in "this" work by Fox, Jesus' life is but one among many dozens of others which are also inviting and deserving a much deeper consideration and perhaps a good, long second look!