“The Order of the Sacred Earth (OSE) is a self-organizing, emergent movement—a network of individuals and communities who are committing to the pledge “to be the best lover and defender of the Earth I can be.” Author, activist, and priest, Matthew Fox, has a vision and he has cast that vision in this one concise sentence. To contemplate the action necessary for his dream of the salvation of humankind and planet Earth, he has invited two young adult visionaries, Skylar Wilson and Jennifer Listug, to join him in his latest book, “Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action.”
Fox has committed his life to reimagining the way Christians “live, move, and have their being” in the world. In the asking of the deepest questions of faith, Fox has touched millions through his wisdom, which has been manifested in his books, talks, and school. By asking the questions of himself, his readers, and the divine, Fox has evolved over the years. His ideas have taken him beyond the reimagination of Christianity into the more pressuring need of imagining a future world where humans still exist. His vision calls for the creation of new type of “order” where we can work together for the benefit of Earth, our island home.
Like many of us, Fox has witnessed the ravaging of our planet and the devasting effects that now confront us. He, like others, have called for immediate action. And he, like a few others, have asked the question about how might global warming (and the denial of its reality), be related to other global issues like racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ rights, xenophobia, tribalism, nationalism, religious intolerance, and sectarianism. He and his co-visionaries have wisely deduced that the way we treat each other is the also the way we treat the Earth—without regard. Simply put, if we truly loved our neighbors as ourselves, we would love Mother Earth equally as well. The single premise of love is the glue that holds his proposal together.
The OSE is in the stage of emergence. It was birthed at a Solstice ceremony in the Winter of 2017. The event was attended by eighty people and witnessed by hundreds via the internet and at satellite locations. The founder’s intent is that the new order will be built on flexible principles, practiced by individuals who meet in OSE Pods (small bioregional communities). The only expectation is that everyone will take the same vow, “to be the best lover and defender of the Earth I can be.” There will be not be a central location, nor a centralized group driving any agenda—truly the order will be self-organizing and in a perpetual state of emergence (evolution).
In the opening chapter, Fox provides the non-religious groundwork for the OSE using his Creation Spirituality. While the religious are welcome, spirituality, particularly eco-spirituality, is the underlying ethos of the order. His vision relies on the ancient wisdom of intergenerational relationships, where the young lead and the elders are sages. And his dream is that those who align themselves with the OSE will live, move, and have their being in the world as mystic-warriors. Mystics as lovers of Mother Earth and the mystery of our inter-wovenness within all of creation; and warriors as prophets, willing to take risks in order to ensure not only the healthy survival of all, but the emergence of something new.
That something new appears in chapters two and three written by his young co-authors. These two chapters are imaginative and bold. While developing a new community on Earth, they are willing to call out what must be left behind, outgrown religion and crumbling institutions. Wilson and Listug are envisioning the next evolution of humanity; “a new ecological postmodernism,” an “Earth-human symbiosis,” so that “we may become more than human.” The first concept is verily well developed, the other two are simply postulates without form that are left to our imagination. I would guess such wonderings are for future conversations as the OSE evolves.
I, too, that humanity and the earth we live on are in a perilous state. My only burning question for the authors, however, would be, “I wonder if Mother Earth is the one who needs saving?” Much like the divine, the Earth (though they may be one and the same) may be quite capable of taking care of themselves. Humanity, however, is another matter. We do need saving. For Mother Earth and the Divine “universal life intelligence” may well have had enough of our unwillingness “to be in sacred service to the Earth.” And thus, they may call an end to the human experiment. Such is the allure of the Order of the Sacred Earth—here may a network of people who take seriously the need for all humanity to work together our salvation and subsequently that of the earth on which we live. Found within the OSE may lie the secret of life beyond human.
The “Order of the Sacred Earth” moved me to consider my own action. This book has given some structure, a house, an order, if you will, about how I live, move, and have my being in the world. I would love to be involved in a sustained conversation with Fox, Wilson, and Listug—all fascinating and imaginative people whose dream is captivating. This book and its ideas have caused me to enter into a period of discernment. To consider what Fox calls “reFIREment” instead of retirement. I wonder what that could look like—to move beyond a life of being human.