The core of his argument seems to be that people in first-world societies have been spoiled by having their needs so easily met. This makes them incapable of caring for others, whether it is the poor in their own countries or the poor in third-world countries. Also, buying their food in the grocery store separates them from the farm by so many steps that they do not have the same awareness of how nature supports them and therefore do not give nature (and nature’s God) the full respect that it deserves. The same could be said of how buying gasoline at the gas station separates them from awareness of nature’s gift of buried petroleum, and how buying shoes at the store separates them from the awareness of the sweatshop workers half a world away. He gives none of these examples himself and makes no effort to prove his case; I have made them up in order to explain what it is I think he is trying to say. There is the essence of the book in a nutshell: Spoiling people spoils people – nothing new.
Creation spirituality is compared to the liberation theology of Latin America and billed as a way of liberating first-world people from “invisible slavery.” This invisible slavery can take many forms, including drug addiction, boredom, apathy, shame, and depression. What exactly creation spirituality is, is not well explained in the book. There are four spiritual paths: creating and appreciating art, struggling for justice and better living conditions for all, awe and appreciation of nature (including appreciating each other), and letting go of our emotional dependence on things. At times, I got the impression that creation spirituality was just the “awe” path while liberation theology was just the “justice” path. Other times, I got the impression that creation spirituality was all four paths together. Fox does say that the first world must learn to “let go” in order to become unspoiled (my words again, not his). One idea Fox has to induce creation spirituality is fasting. Fasting can make one more appreciative of those things they give up. I question how well it will work when done by choice and it is one’s own ability to be content that keeps them from what they want, but maybe it could help a bit.
I also found his interpretation of the book of Job interesting. He seems to imply (again, I feel like I might be putting words in his mouth because he is so frustratingly unclear) that the purpose of Job’s whole ordeal was to expand his mind to be in awe of nature and the deity that created it.
On top of this basic premise were a lot of things that had me scratching my head so hard it almost fell off. He wrote of being spiritual as meaning full of breath. He wrote of the split between mysticism and prophecy and between science and religion that has “obstructed the poetic consciousness” and allowed vitality to ebb. He claims that we are selves only in relation to other selves. He claims we need to “trust our images” enough to “ride them into existence.” He claims that fear is contraction. Why then, do mammals puff up their fur when frightened? He mentions repeatedly the cosmic Christ. Funny, I thought that Christ was already cosmic. Why do we need a cosmic Christ? He also repeatedly uses the word “isness” without once explaining what the flying bananas he’s talking about. Is it any wonder that he also claims first-worlders are too logical?
The silliest thing was how he described the relationships between the four paths – or maybe he was just making a convenient symbol for his followers to identify each other by – I really can’t tell. He arranged them into a circle with “letting go” on the top, creativity on the right, awe on the bottom, and justice on the left. Arrows were added going from the bottom to the top, then right, and then left. This is called a sacred hoop (whatever that is). It is also the “sign of the cross” and corresponds with certain chakras. Why the paths are in the order they are and why the path of paths crosses itself I have no idea. He says that awe is on the bottom because light comes from the south. Light comes from the south? Sunlight comes from above. Campfire light comes from below. I’ve even seen light inside my refrigerator. Why is south down? Is awe equal to light? Help me out here.
It is hard to understand someone when the examples they use aren’t grounded in facts. I know that just because one is wrong in one area, does not mean that they are wrong in another, but it does make me wonder about interpretation. At one point, he seems to say that the hole in the ozone layer is caused by carbon dioxide. This is wrong. Carbon dioxide is believed to be involved in global warming, while ozone is thought to be depleted by chlorofluorocarbons. He says that church is too institutional, which I agree with, but he also says that humans and animals need ritual. I hate ritual. He believes in a zero sum economy and ecology while I do not. He seems to think that all Western thought is based on Descartes, which is news to me. He seems to think that modern church is too masculine and has hurt women. Strangely, I read a book a while ago about how the modern church has become feminized to the point that it is driving away men. This other book made a much more convincing argument and demographic statistics back it up. He also thinks our farming and government is too secular and it bothers him that we sometimes reward experience instead of giving power to the uneducated. He even thinks that Alcoholics Anonymous is too religious, too word-based (whatever that means), and too unaware of sex, class, and politics. Why bring politics into helping people get off alcohol?
Overall, I’d give it one star, maybe two.