Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice

Book Number: 
720
Date Fred Read: 
September 2017
Fred's Rating: 
3
Author: 
Matthew Fox
Total Pages: 
270
Publisher: 
Inner Traditions
Year: 
1999

Matthew Fox is a theologian, educator, and former Dominican priest. He founded and is president of the University of Creation Spirituality and co-director of the Naropa Institute’s master’s program in Creation Spirituality. The paperback edition was a gift.

The Amazon website for the Kindle edition of this book is

https://www.amazon.com/Spirituality-Named-Compassion-Mystical-Awareness-...

[None of the ISBN-10, ISBN-13, or ASIN numbers on Amazon’s websites for the three editions (Kindle, hardcover, or paperback) are recognized by Amazon, thus the ‘no image Circle' appears. I think this new change by Amazon is not good. However, you can see the images of this books' covers at the website above.]

The home page has a summary (click on ‘Read more’). Both the Kindle and paperback editions have the same summary and the 3-pp Contents, which can be read in either edition’s Amazon preview. The Contents has the detailed subsections I like to have for it informs the reader of how Fox presents his arguments. I give here the Kindle’s preview because it contains all of both prefaces: the 4-pp Preface: the Second Edition and the 8-pp original Preface: Retrieving Compassion from Its Lonely Exile. The original preface will make a reader acutely aware of Matthew Fox’s belief that compassion had been missing (or “in exile”) from his days as a Dominican priest. Chapter One’s title and its many details point out the many features of what he feels about the crucial importance of compassion – note the many subsections that begin with the two words ‘Compassion is.’ As you will find if you read all of this book, the word ‘love’ seldom appears. The Kindle preview ends on page 6 of the 35-pp Chapter One.

The title of Chapter Two includes “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” and “Dancing Sarah’s Circle.” In short, he finds that the (one significant spatial dimension) of climbing this mythical vertical ladder involves judgement, with those higher up the ladder are ‘appropriately’ looking down (in his mind) to those below them with pity and looking up to those above them with envy. He makes it clear that his way is not the ladder way. Instead it is the (two significant spatial dimensions) of a group holding hands while dancing in a horizontal circle. This picture describes (in his mind) equality of all the dancers in the mystical knowledge of compassion and celebration.

The remaining chapters frequently mention and compare the bad ladder idea to the good circle idea in the five topics – psychology, creativity, science/nature, economics, and politics – that he discusses in detail in Chapters Three through Seven. There are some useful insights in these five chapters, but restricting them to the author’s limitation of compassion (and celebration) as the fundamental ground of reason leaves much unsaid.

In Chapter Eight Matthew Fox surprised and amused me with his choice of the Humpty Dumpty tale as the framework upon which he discusses soul and its salvation. I have never before read of a mystical philosophy built upon this children’s idea. Who else could have been used instead of Humpty Dumpty in a search for insight? Since he more or less rejects love as a topic of importance, both theistic and non-theistic religions use and discuss humans as their framework for a summary.

I realize that there are several mystical groups whose spirituality is not based upon a universal, ethical concept as are the widely recognized theistic and non-theistic religions of our world. I’m glad I was given this book by Matthew Fox. I rate it at three stars.