Speaker seeks to link spirituality and leadership | VailDaily.com

Speaker seeks to link spirituality and leadership

Cliff Thompson

BEAVER CREEK – When spiritual theologian Matthew Fox is done speaking at the Vilar Center Monday night, he’s hoping his words will move you off your spiritually couch-potatoed buns.Fox is a theologian and author who will address the seemingly conflicting concept of “Leadership and Spirituality for the 21st Century” and will provide what he calls a historic and ecumenical perspective on the topic.Modern civilizations have abandoned the spiritual in favor of quantifiable endeavors, Fox said.”Science got us to the moon and back, but a lot was left out in the modern world in terms of our relationship with the rest of nature and the spiritual dimension,” he said. “Life with too much rationality is unsustainable. It’s boring. It’s not real.”It’s more important now to connect individuals with the rest of the world and that begins with spiritual leadership, he said. “We have to take responsibility today like never before,” he said. “Things are moving at a very rapid rate. Things are very chaotic. We’re going to need very significant shifts in directions if we’re going to be a sustainable species. “We don’t want to sit around passively while the world burns. Nero tried that.”A new wayFox, who was an ordained priest, got what he calls a “pink slip” form the Catholic Church for straying too far from the Vatican’s strict interpretation of the religion.”It was a downsizing by the Vatican,” he chuckled. “It was a warning shot to other theologians to get in line.”

He espoused feminist theology by calling God “mother,” as was done in the Bible and in medieval times. He also spoke too much about the original blessing and not enough about the original sin, he said.He has since received “religious immunity” from the Episcopalian Church, where he is now a priest, and founded the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, Calif. In 1995 he was awarded the Courage of Conscience Award by the Peace Abbey of Sherborn, Mass. Other recipients of the award include the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa and Rosa Parks.Fox believes the world’s religions must join to seek peace and to leave the world intact for future generations, he said. “We’re already bumping into each other,” he said. “We have to pay attention not just to tactics of war but to tactics of peace. We need to learn how to resolve conflict with a win-win, not win-lose, scenario.Institutions of higher learning have become disconnected from spiritual matters and that that is causing problems, he said.”Most of the destruction of this planet is happening at the hands of people with Ph.Ds,” he said. “We have to balance knowledge with wisdom so schools aren’t just knowledge factories. We have to bring out our capacity for peace and understanding and not just train people to race to the top of the ladder.”The Dalai Lama said education is in a crisis worldwide,” Fox said.The trend toward more fundamentalism in the world’s religions is a symptom of a lack of spiritualism, he said. “We have to get in touch with the power of compassion and celebration,” he said. “We need to live in depth and not at a superficial level.”

No Dark AgesSpiritualism, he said, is a longing. “When religion is healthy, it’s about spirituality,” he said. “It can wander off and become an institutional ego. Religion can get overly sociological. Spirituality is what’s going on inside a person’s heart, soul and mind and trying to renew it from the inside out.”Modern society, too, is disconnected from spirituality, he said.”Part of leadership is paying more attention to balancing masculine and feminine,” he said. “We’re emerging in a post-modern world. We need to incorporate modern, pre-modern and postmodern spirituality. “What Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus and Black Elk taught, isn’t’ all that different,” Fox said, referring to leaders of three of the world’s major religions and a revered Ogalala Sioux holy man who died in 1950. The notion of a “Dark Ages” is just plain wrong, Fox said.”You need only look at beauty of Chartres Cathedral to know that,” he said.A lack of spirituality leaves us without the tools to solve the world’s problems, Fox said.”We’re trying to solve post-modern problems with a modern tool kit,” he said. “I think war is not only the last resort, it’s very nearly obsolete.”

Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or cthompson@vaildaily.com.==========================================At a glanceLeadership and Spirituality for the 21st CenturyMonday, Oct. 11 5-7 p.m.Vilar Center, Beaver CreekTickets $20Call the Vail Leadership Institute 926-7800==========================================Vail, Colorado

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