inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #76 of 188: Your Humble Serpent (maya) Thu 22 May 03 16:54
Ooooooh, I like that.  That Watts sure had a keen understanding. 
Among the Maya it was similar. The Gods attempted several times to
create mankind and each time there was something wrong:  either they
fell apart or got too regimented, one thing or another, the point being
that they could not relate to their creator in a way that the creator
was satisfied with.  I am not convinced that the tenor of that
relationship is supposed to be some kind of blind obedience to
authority, in fact I am almost certain it is not.  The gods want to be
worshipped, yes, but that's not necessarily the same as being obeyed. 
I think Matthew makes a very strong point when he talks about
co-creativeness.  Oh sure, this can be reduced to a gnostic ripoff,
Christians too tight with their teachings love to reduce anything they
don't want to understand to a gnostic ripoff, but, the premise that
authority, and creativity, might be immanent and, thus, an expression
of the divine, is a belief that humankind has held for millenia, even
if religious institutions have done their best to rid them of that
notion so that they can exert authority over others.  Perhaps the Eden
story can be interpreted in that way:  it is not about disobeying
authority as much as it is about answering the call to become
authority, with all the attendant responsibilities.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #77 of 188: Mark Harms (murffy) Thu 22 May 03 19:41

You detail nicely the foundation of the problem I'm trying to get at.
Perceptions differ. I'm perfectly happy to accept that and, in fact,
I'm glad it's the case. But the question regarding moral outrage
remains unaddressed. Does the common thread of awe and wonder also
contain a common thread of moral perception? My experience suggests
that it doesn't. And our emailer, Mr. Elliott, offers evidence as to
why. It seems to me that he is experiencing genuine moral outrage and I
have no reason to believe he doesn't have genuine spiritual
experiences. So should I trust his experience of the divine? And his
morality? If not his, why should I accept someone else's? Or mine (such
as it is)?

I've been thinking that moral outrage itself is the problem. To me the
source is not spiritual experience but the ideals that these
experiences suggest. And when the world out there invariably fails to
bend itself to our ideals, we experience outrage. Again, Mr. Elliott
offers an excellent illustration.

Oh, and (gerry). Interesting stuff on art. I'm mulling it over. 
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #78 of 188: William H. Dailey (whdailey) Thu 22 May 03 19:55
Science is progressing toward a point where any man can be a god and
create his own universe out of nothing.  

There is no promise that evil will be overcome.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #79 of 188: LoRayne Apo (lorayne-apo) Thu 22 May 03 21:00

Oh dear, this could be a dissertation.  Mr. Elliott is evidence of a
different state of consciousness.  Hmm, I should back up a bit further.

Consciousness is one's perception of reality.  Each of us have
different experiences in the realm of reality, hence differing states
of consciousness.  We can be in close proximity, by way of being in
similar cultures, similar heritage and background, in the same room
watching the same movie, but we still have different highly individual
experiences of reality.  The differences in our states of consciousness
mirrors the framework upon which we assess our experience.  If you are
starving and have been deprived of food most of your life, food looks,
tastes, is experienced very differently than if you were sated with a
surfeit of food.

I refer you to two texts.  The first, written by Professor Jenny Wade
at SUNY, "Changes of Mind: A Holonomic Theory of the Evolution of
Consciousness", offers a model which depicts the transition humans make
(in general) through different, evolving states of consciousness. 
Some persons remain for most of their lives in a conformist state,
although a majority of adults make it to affiliative or achievement
states.  The second text, "Spiral Dynamics", by Chris Cowan and Don
Beck, builds upon Gravesian psychology; Cowan's/Beck's model of the
human condition proposes different sets of values (vMemes) depending on
the state of emergence humans in a culture exist.  Assuming that
values are an inward and outward expression of one's consciousness or
reaction to their experience of reality, a value system can help to
identify a person's state. (You can find more info at

Mr. Elliott exhibits a conformist state of consciousness, or in Spiral
Dynamics terminology, Red/Blue values are active for him.  It's a
different world he lives in, no less valid than the experience others
may have.  It's definitely challenging to see there may be common
ground upon which other persons of different consciousness and values
systems may be able to meet Mr. Elliott.  A first step is to understand
that where he's at, following the rules, obeying power structure, is
everything and not following them, being a free spirit, looks like
anarchy and complete chaos (order = God-like, chaos = evil).  This
place may be founded by a totally different set of experiences than you
have experienced -- but the resulting values may have been essential
to survival in that place.

Try a mental experiment in the other direction.  If I were to tell you
I had a transcendent experience, do you think you'd be able to
"understand" it with certainty without having experienced that state of
consciousness?  Assuming you haven't had one, you may be able to
imagine it, accept it, without judgment.  People expressing moral
outrage may simply have a different state of consciousness, which one
can strive to imagine without "living it".

The challenge, of course, is validating another human's experience
without judgment and without negative action.  Not exactly easy,
depending on your own values and state of consciousness.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #80 of 188: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Thu 22 May 03 21:06
<wild cheers and applause for (lorayne-apo)'s #79>
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #81 of 188: Rip Van Winkle (keta) Thu 22 May 03 23:01
Hi Matthew & all,

First, I've just gotten started reading, so my questions are somewhat
first impressions.  I have two questions so far.

My first question, I guess is, "What *isn't* creativity?"  

I see a chapter with the question, "Is original sin the refusal to
create?" in the title, so I suspect you have thoughts on this!  The
context for me is all the exuberant destructive busyness about.  I’m
sure it takes quite a bit of…well, something – something one might want
to call “creativity” – to come up with ingenious ways to invade
countries, rig power rates, privatize water.  In fact I ran across
someone recently (not sure who), who commented that our modern Chartres
is the aircraft carrier – the thing we have poured the most passion
and spirited worshipful attention into creating. 

Personally, I feel there is some sort of denial going on that allows
for all that destructive focusing of energy.  But it’s hard to
cultivate humility and at the same time get to the bottom of what
really does seem like a matter of right and wrong.  Gary Snyder says,
“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment,
chop wood, carry water.”  I tend to think that, today, it’s more like,
“Before enlightenment, denial.  After enlightenment, chop wood, carry
water.”  What do you think?

My second question has two parts, and relates to your mention of your
other book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ (which I have not read).  In
some ways, with your summarizing, explicating, championing, you seem
to be a sort of John the Baptist figure, announcing, preparing the way.
  So the first part of my question, personal, is, “Is there something
of that John the Baptist feeling to how you experience your work?”  

The second part of my question is, “Well, briefly, what’s the story of
this Coming?”  There’s a lot of people about who have very compelling
Armageddon stories – what’s the compelling counter-story?  So far, the
most compelling counter-story I’ve come across is Joanna Macy’s idea of
“The Great Turning” – envisioning (from some future perspective) *all*
of us as being participants in a fundamental shift toward
life-affirming values.  But again, what do you think.  And feel? 
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #82 of 188: Rollback, Press & Push. (tkozal) Fri 23 May 03 07:35
and Matthew Fox, the gang from the Cross conference here was chatting
awhile back in anticipation of this,

one of the questions we wanted to ask you was your views on the
"german mafia" in the vatican...

or as I call them, the dying mitteleuropans
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #83 of 188: Mark Harms (murffy) Fri 23 May 03 08:56
I'm sorry. I think <79> misses the point. It only elaborates on what
I've already acknowledged and doesn't address my central question
regarding moral outrage. I'm not looking for an explanation of how
spiritual experiences differ. But I'm not sure I can make my question
clearer. How about: Can the common thread of awe and wonder in
spiritual experiences, however varying these may be, lead to a common
moral perception? This seems to be what the spiritually inclined
believe but it appears to me to be a case of "you can't get there from
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #84 of 188: Your Humble Serpent (maya) Fri 23 May 03 09:16
The "gang" from the Cross Conference, indeed.  I think it's
unfortunate that WELL Conferencing felt the Cross Gang would be the
most suitable candidates for receiving and reviewing Fox's recent book,
_Creativity_.  As I understand it, no copies were sent to any of the
participants in the Arts Conference or the Writers Conference, just to
name two conferences where the participants might not be so predisposed
to be critical of not only the material in the book but Fox's personal
history.  I wish Fox could go to the Cross Conference and read what is
being said of him there and deal with those issues *there* so that
this interview can focus on the theme of creativity *here*.

But what we wish for and what we get ain't always the same, eh?  In
gist, the Cross Gang are grumbling that they'd rather be given their
ol' time religion cuz it's good enough for them, that your scholarship
is sloppy, that you basically find what you look for in your review of
past theologians like Aquinas and that it's presumptuous of you to
interpret what these Christian scholars meant, that you don't know as
much as you think you know about Eastern religions, that if you throw
out the concept of "original sin" then you in effect can't believe in
the Bible, that they can't find Jesus in this book and want to know
what your personal relationship is to Jesus, and on and on and on, all
valid if not to-be-expected criticism from such a gang.

Again, very unfortunate that review copies of the book were not
forwarded to *artists* on The WELL whose concerns and criticisms might
have been more focused on the theme of creativity.

Because I suspect it's true that you are not writing your books for
adherents of an ol' time religion.  That you are, in fact, writing your
books for people who are looking for what you are proposing.  Maybe
there is nothing new in your books?  Then again, there's not a whole
lot new in The Bible either, even when it was being written, as so much
of its cosmogony is borrowed from earlier editions as well.  Maybe
your books are too eclectic, too far reaching, too embracing?

Ever reader will have to decide for themselves, I'm sure.

For myself, I appreciate being given a chance to come to the table, to
sit down, and feast at the banquet.  I appreciate certain a priori
assumptions being held at bay.  I appreciate that my relationship with
divinity is something I can understand as an intrapsychic process
rather than an interpersonal one; in other words, that I can trust what
is immanently divine and not have to rely on external authority to
access divinity.  I appreciate that you are speaking to the
disenfranchised, the marginalized, the weary, to those of us who don't
want ol' time religion anymore, who can see what that has wrought, and
who understand that where Jesus is your teachings is everywhere where
wisdom is, alongside the wisdom traditions of the world.  He doesn't
have to be the leader of the pack giving orders.  He doesn't have to
stand out in the crowd.  He stands alongside the other sages of wisdom
in egalitarian balance.

I think the image of you as the Baptist is sweet.  Not that you are,
but that the message you are delivering is seen as sweet and
forthcoming.  Promising.  What I find most in _Creativity_ is an
enthusiastic vision in the true meaning of the word enthusiasm.  On
first reading this enthusiasm reaches across, goes pop pop pop in the
mind, inspires, reenchants.

I hope that you and the Cross Gang can contain your theological
disputes elsewhere so that the theme of creativity can be more directly
explored here.

I can only pray that will happen. 
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #85 of 188: Your Humble Serpent (maya) Fri 23 May 03 09:32
> Can the common thread of awe and wonder in spiritual experiences,
> however varying these may be, lead to a common moral perception?

That's a great question, and I'm not sure what Matthew would respond,
and certainly wouldn't want to speak for him.   But for myself, I would
say not without trying.  Matthew puts a great stress on meditation in
_Creativity_ and has an interesting synopsis of the human brain as
reptilian, mammalian, and the human/intellectual.  He says that the
task of the human/intellectual brain is to expand our capacity for
compassion past the specific and particular parameters of whatever our
in-group is.  So it's not as if these spiritual insights in and of
themselves lead directly to any state of heightened consciousness.  If
that were so, the beautiful message of that sad and tortured carpenter
would have created a world of compassion and love and one needs only to
browse the daily headlines to know this is not so.  T.S. Eliot once
wrote that "for us there is only the trying, and the rest is not our

I think, in my limited understanding of such things, that if the
common thread of awe and wonder in spiritual experiences is to lead to
a common moral perception it will have to be predicated upon desire and
effort.  There's no such thing as a free lunch, as they used to say,
and which Adam and Eve found out quick.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #86 of 188: Rollbakc, Prssing and Pushing the guy into the wall. (tkozal) Fri 23 May 03 10:00
well, Maya this member of the Cross Gang did not get a copy of the

So now you use the forum to attack the members of the Cross
conference, the one you left, apparently due to offending people? Give
me a break. back behind the filter you go....

Not only am I a member of the Cross conf, I am also a former
professional musician. NO BOOK FOR ME. You need to take another step
back...The Cross conf is one of the least "old-time" religion places I
have been to.

Now I want to sincerely hear his thoughts about the german mafia, so
will you leave me and the others alone, you putz?

See what fun we have here Rev Fox?
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #87 of 188: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 23 May 03 10:07
Note that it's VERY easy to get a book.  You can order it via Amazon, other
online bookstores, or find it in many local independent stores for a
reasonable fee.  The publisher was kind enough to provide a few copies in
the hopes that others will do just that. (Alternatively the free copies can
certainly be passed around and mailed to friends and intellectual sparring
partners, for those who like to share.)
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #88 of 188: Rip Van Winkle (keta) Fri 23 May 03 10:08
<85> <86> <87> slipped...

No, <maya>, I suspect what the adherents of ole time religion think
*is* important, both to MF, and to all of our futures.  Personally, the
more internal I get -- the more familiar I am with that Eckhart sense
of god being closer to you than your own self -- the more I find myself
seeing something crucially important about that "personal relationship
with Christ" bit.  I connect with it in a totally different way, but I
recognize the fundamental impulse as being the same.  

I can illustrate with an example from a Tarot deck - the Enchanted
Tarot (Zerner, Farber).  Their illustration of The High Priestess card
(read: and incarnation of the Goddess) shows a woman with her hands
behind her.  They explain, "Her hands are hidden behind the energy
centers at the base of her spine and atop her head, to signify that
true power comes from the use of individual spiritual energies and is
available to all."  Then they have a little exercise:  "For inner
guidance, and the strengthening of your psychic abilities, you must
practice this enchantment on a daily basis.  Close your eyes and relax.
 Visualize yourself in the temple grotto with the high priestess. 
Know that she exists only to help you and answer your every question. 
While galaxies circle above you, pose your question without any
attachment to the answer you will receive.  In time she will take her
hands from behind her back, and in them will be the symbol of your

Now to me, that's a beautiful description (from a different spiritual
perspective) of where the impulse toward "a personal relationship with
Christ" can fit into spiritual health - a healthy individuality, and a
healthy willingness to be open to guidance, other, not being in
control.  It looks to me like MF wants to bring out that essence.

As to who this discussion maybe should or shouldn't have been
addressed to, think about it this way: [note: I'm coming here from
<writers> but I found out about it from <spirit> first.]  Michael
Gruber -- one of our <writers> compatriots(<mag>) -- wrote a book
recently with a lot of shamanism, witchcraft, and discussion of the
roots of racism in it.  If I were in charge of lining up his interview,
I would think of inviting writers first, and I might well forget to
invite any shamen or thinkers on race and culture.  It happens.  C'mon,
cut the hosts some slack here, ok!
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #89 of 188: Gerald Feene (gerry) Fri 23 May 03 12:10
    <scribbled by gerry Fri 23 May 03 17:39>
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #90 of 188: Rik Elswit (rik) Fri 23 May 03 12:24
I’d like to talk some about the act of creation.   (keta), in #81,
brings up a question that occurred to me as well during my reading.  
What *isn’t* creativity.   And I realized that I had been thinking of
the creation of the universe as something that happened  15 billion or
so years ago, when it might be more accurately thought of as something
we do from moment to moment.   The universe is in creation as we speak,
and i’m interested in what say we have in how it continues to turn

Robert Pirsig, in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” speaks
of where hypotheses come from.   He noticed that given any phenomenon,
and enough time, you can continually come up with different hypotheses
to explain it.    Science gives us a method by which to evaluate them,
but the question that interested me is where they all come from.  
There is a commonsense picture of thinking that is obviously the
inspiration of Rodin’s famous sculpture.   It is thinking done
consciously, and with great effort.   But when you read the words of
the great thinkers and artists, it’s clear that they have no idea where
the ideas come from.  They do sit effortfully and purposely and
cogitate consciously, but the Eureka moment always seems to come out of

It’s not like Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus”, where he meticulously moves
from one thought to another in an unbreakable chain of logic, but
rather more like,   “I don’t get it...I just don’t get it...I just
don’t get it...I just don’t get it...I just don’t get it...I just don’t
get it...I just don’t get it....I just don’t get it...I just don’t get
it...I just don’t get it..........Oh WOW!!!!!    THAT’S IT!!!

And when I’m creating music, a similar process takes place.   I play
the same old shit over and over, takng tentative stabs and bold stabs
at making something new happen.  And it doesn’t.  And the frustration
mounts and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to make something new happen. 
  And the thought occurs to me more than once that it may never happen
again.  And yet I continue on because creation has always shown up
eventually in the past, and  I have faith (there’s that word again)
that it will happen again.    When it does, when the amazing and
mysterious thing occurs,  I have no idea where it comes from.   It’s
very clear that the entity that calls itself Rik is simply observing
while creation uses his hands.

This is what I call the “Why we do it moment”.   I live for it whether
it happens on stage or in my practice room, and recently I’ve come to
see that it is my form of worship.   I can  meditate, I can cogitate
the concepts, I can run the scales, I can play the changes, and make
all the moves it takes to prepare myself as a vessel, but when the
thing happens, it seems to come out of nowhere.    And it is obvious to
me that something is going on that is much greater than the thing that
calls itself Rik.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #91 of 188: Rik Elswit (rik) Fri 23 May 03 13:25
Let me add that EVERYBODY is welcome in this discussion.    
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #92 of 188: Your Humble Serpent (maya) Fri 23 May 03 13:55
Okay, okay, you've convinced me <keta> that these things don't happen
in a vaccum of black and white.  So, my apologies to the Conferencing
Team and the Cross Gang.  And thanks to <rik> for returning us to the
subject of creativity.   I'll hang in the background for now and let
the dialogue go its own course.
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #93 of 188: Matthew Fox (matthew-fox) Fri 23 May 03 16:53
I feel in tune with Joanna Macy's naming of the Turning of the Wheel. 
But also with Bede Griffith's naming of the "hour of God" wherein he
says things have come to a point with the human species that we are
facing true options that might end the planet as we know it.  Also
Thomas Berry's naming of our
need to commit ourselves to an "ecozoic era" now that we have
effectively ended the era that has ended after 65 million years.

I don't personally identify with John the Baptist all that much except
for the "crying in the wilderness" part....The wilderness of academia;
the wilderness of institutional religion... as starters.  We all have
our prophetic role to play and Rabbi Heshel says the prophet's first
task is to: "Interfere."  I think we all have to do that in our way and
most likely in our professions and work places especially.  And in our
citizenship.  There is a lot of work to do.  I've chosen to focus
heavily on 1) Education and 2) Ritual (Thus our techno cosmic Masses)
and 3) deconstructing and
reconstructing our theological/spiritual heritage as Westerners.
As I say, creativity is our strength AND our curse as a species.  With
it we do our greatest gifting AND with it we do our greatest evil. 
Thus the need for critiquing what we do with it personally and
collectively.  So I agree that denial of our powers (creativity
included) is a major issue.

I enjoyed the ongoing discussions of Garden of Eden and more.  I don't
feel the need to jump in on them.  Thank you for all the interaction
going on around the matters raised in "Creativity" and by you
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #94 of 188: Teleologically dyslexic (ceder) Fri 23 May 03 16:56
<maya> I, for one, was not fast enough to get a copy of Matthew Fox's
latest book so I am awaiting reciept of four I ordered from the
library; having already received a book with commentaries by Mr. Fox of
Hildagard of Bingen.  Hildagard's artwork is truely inspiring, I might

Many people would be suprised how available these books are (in the

inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #95 of 188: Teleologically dyslexic (ceder) Fri 23 May 03 17:16
<matthew-fox> Rabbi Heshel's chapter Prophecy and Poetic Inspiration
struck me when I read his "The Prophets" a year ago because I dream
plans for my writings.

When I was an undergraduate and a full time student I would write 5
pages of my thesis when I woke up and the rest of the day writing went
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #96 of 188: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Fri 23 May 03 18:21
Clare, just yesterday I heard, in a "Fresh Air" radio interview, the
writer for the television series "St. Elsewhere," "Homicide," and "Oz"
say he sometimes dreamed his scripts, and that always, he got up at
5:30 in the morning and began writing immediately, before he had a
chance to think too much -- which is to say, to begin editing his
writing in his head before he got it down on paper. I don't think he
even makes coffee first. He lives in New York City, and said 5:30 in
the morning is when "New York takes a breath."
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #97 of 188: Teleologically dyslexic (ceder) Fri 23 May 03 19:19
Thank you, Steve. ;-) 

One of my friends said she liked that part of me talking about my
papers.  What she couldn't believe is that I'm writing both papers at
once.  By the way my dream information is paper-specific; like "Don't
forget to go back and fit "contexts reflections in" or "maybe you
should tell about what happened when you lay in the spirit" and "don't
forget an introduction and summary".
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #98 of 188: Thomas Armagost (silly) Sat 24 May 03 06:49
    <scribbled by silly Sat 24 May 03 06:50>
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #99 of 188: the newly locked-down Table Talk (silly) Sat 24 May 03 06:50
Creativity and evil.  Leni Riefenstahl and Werner Von Braun... Is
redemption possible when you've made a deal with the devil?
inkwell.vue.183 : Matthew Fox, "Creativity"
permalink #100 of 188: David Gans (tnf) Sat 24 May 03 10:37

This is VERY late, because I am on vacation and didn't log in for two days.

So, with apologies for the tardiness of it, I now post Matthew's response to
the angry off-WELL letter posted above:

> This message tells the story of misused (religious) imagination and speaks
> for itself.  Let us send prayers for this man's healing and all those who
> preach a distorted religious ideology.  Christian fundamentalism is at
> least as dangerous as the Islamic variety and equally distorting of the
> spirit of our founders.


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