Cover image for Sins of the spirit, blessings of the flesh
Sins of the spirit, blessings of the flesh
Fox, Matthew, 1940-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harmony Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
385 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
BV4626 .F68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh , visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. Through its marriage of spirit and flesh, Fox's Theology of Spirit sets forth a visionary but practical mysticism that lays out a blueprint for social transformation.  

In this book, Matthew Fox dissects the roots of our culture's spiritual malaise and offers Creation Spirituality and a Theology of Spirit as the "medicine" for our society's deep spiritual "wounds." He shows how, contrary to mainstream church teachings, flesh is the grounding of spirit, and how spirit and flesh are entwined with each other in a felicitous and spiritually nourishing bond. He outlines a Theology of Spirit, an approach to the fusing of spirit and flesh which has been underdeveloped in Western thought. His cosmology stresses the need for diversity, the revelatory power of Nature, and the imperative of cooperation.  

Fox draws together the wisdom of East and West on the subject of human destructiveness by taking Thomas Aquinas's definition of sin as "misdirected love" and ushering us through parallels between the Eastern teachings of the seven chakras and the Western teachings of the seven capital sins. In doing so, he responds to Martin Buber's call to "deprive evil of its power" not by "extirpating the evil urge, but by reuniting it to the good." Psychologist M. Scott Peck has said that humanity's naming of evil "is still in the primitive stage." With this book, Fox ushers us beyond rudimentary naming and places our capacity for evil in the fuller context of our touching the natural beauty of our physical world, the complex texture of our emotional lives, and the splendid depths of our spiritual center.

In Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh Matthew Fox has created his most ambitious and profound book. The text crackles with his intelligence and wit, deftly moving the reader into an examination of our world and our perceptions about it and ourselves, expanding our minds and showing us paths of thought that you would swear were not there before you turned the page.

Author Notes

Matthew Fox holds a doctorate in the history and theology of spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris. He was a member of the Dominican order for 34 years. Seeking to establish a new pedagogy for learning spirituality that was grounded in an effort to reawaken the West to its own mystical tradition as well as interacting with contemporary scientists, Fox founded the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality that operated for 7 years at Mundelein College in Chicago and 12 years at Holy Names College in Oakland. Because of this program, Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) expelled Fox from the Dominican order and the program was aborted. He founded the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland to continue his work, but it closed in 2007. He is the author of over 30 books including Original Blessing, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, A Spirituality Named Compassion, The Reinvention of Work, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, Christian Mystics, The A.W.E. Project: An Educational Transformation for Post-Modern Times, and Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Continuing his postdenominational, postmodernist dialogue, and intent on reclaiming a spirit that has been lost by the "misteachings" of church doctrine and theology throughout the history of the Christian Church, Fox presents his newest effort. East meets West in this work, where Fox combats the historically destructive notion of the seven deadly sins with the "more productive" Hindu mystical teachings of the seven chakras. He validates such ideas by including them along with the teachings of Western Church Doctors (e.g., Jerome and Thomas Aquinas), and Fox seems to be making quite a point. In addition, he argues that sin has been misunderstood throughout church history by quoting the teachings of the mystics, together with the thoughts of modern theologians, postmodern thinkers, eastern teachers, rabbis, psychologists, biologists, and cosmologists. This is fascinating stuff, and devotees of Fox will not be disappointed. Critics of Fox's "rave-mass" liturgies, seemingly new-age techniques, and reputation for mistranslation and quoting out of context will find much fodder for argument in this text as well. There are no surprises here. --Michael Spinella

Publisher's Weekly Review

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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.