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Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh


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About the Author

Matthew Fox is well known for having revived the tradition of creation spirituality and for being a compelling voice for ecological and socially progressive causes. He is author of twenty-three books including 'Original Blessing' which has sold more that a quarter of a million copies. He lives in California where he had founded the University of Creation Spirituality and is co-director of the Naropa Institute in Oakland.


In the early 1970s, psychiatrist Karl Menninger wondered, Whatever became of sin? At the end of the millennium, mystical theologian Fox (Original Blessing) declares that sin is such an overwhelming part of our cultural context that it is imperative to decide how we are going to talk about it. In spirited and engaging prose, Fox presents his thesis: that we have focused far too long on the sins of the fleshthe titillating sexual peccadilloes of our politicians, for exampleto the exclusion of the sins of the spirit. Quoting medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas, Fox defines sin as misdirected love. He contends that thinking of sin in this way enables us to think anew about what the Catholic Church called the seven cardinal sins: sloth, pride, lust, wrath, envy, avarice, gluttony. Believing that we are not in a position to consider sin unless we first understand our capacity for goodness, Fox argues in the first part of the book that our flesh is good. He does not restrict the term flesh simply to the traditional sense of human weakness; he also affirms the fleshiness of the earth and the universe and demonstrates our human connectedness to the cosmos. In the second part, Fox examines the many definitions that Eastern and Western mystics, theologians and biologists have given to sin. In the third section, he combines the chakra tradition of the East with Aquinass idea of misdirected love to offer a rethinking of the concept of sin: Is sin not a love energy (chakra) that is misdirected? In a final section, the author asserts that the chakras teach us to direct the love-energies we all possess and proposes seven positive precepts for living a full and spirited life, including Live with moral outrage and stand up to injustice. Fox tries to take a hard look at the magnitude of evil in the world, yet his focus on directing our love in more positive directions offers little more than sweetness and light. (May)

In this philosophical and cosmological discourse Fox, a controversial theologian, author of 33 books, and founder of the Institute of Creation Spirituality, queries the state of evil. Utilizing Eastern and Western thinking about blessing and sin, he asks how humans can inflict so much destruction, whether there are ways to move beyond sin, and how we can deprive evil of its power. An especially interesting section compares the ancient Middle Eastern and Western traditions of "seven capital sins," the "sins of the spirit," and the Eastern tradition of the "seven chakras (energies)." In the concluding chapter, Fox brings to the fore seven positive precepts and a single virtue around which humanity can gather to usher in a new era of human morality. Readers of Fox's earlier works (including Confessions, LJ 4/1/96) will be waiting for this, and collections staying current on comparative religions, how-to guides, and general-interest titles in spirituality will find it essential.ÄLeroy Hommerding, Citrus Cty. Lib., Inverness, FL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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