What Is the Order of the Sacred Earth?
At this critical time in human and planetary history, the world does not need a new religion or even a reshuffling of our old religions. It does not need a new church either.
What it needs is a new Order: a community and movement of people of varied belief systems (or non-belief systems) who share one sacred vow: to preserve Mother Earth and to become the best lovers (mystics) and defenders (warriors) they can be on behalf of Mother Earth. A post-denominational Order and a post-religious Order. Therefore, a Spiritual Order.
We, Matthew Fox, a 76-year-old elder, activist and spiritual theologian, along with Skylar Wilson, a 33-year-old wilderness and meditation guide who leads inter-cultural ceremonies, and Jennifer Listug, a 28-year-old writer, spiritual leader, and publicist, are presenting a challenge and an opportunity in the vision we launch in this modest book. That vision is about an Order of the Sacred Earth.
In times like ours, so marked by apocalyptic goings-on, from climate change to climate change denial, from the failures of education, media, politics, economics, and religion, it is important that we not succumb to despair or to non-action or to reptilian brain action-reaction. We need to go deeper within our own souls and within the genius of our species to find anew what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community.”
Yes, we are witnessing the death of institutions and systems, and an era that is not serving us nor our Mother Earth well any longer. We need to journey into this dying in order to break into new forms of community, religion, spirituality, and education—in short, creativity that will give birth to deeper forms of living and interacting with one another and other beings on this small, intertwined planet. Nothing short of what David Korten is calling “A New Enlightenment” will suffice in activating the energies and insights now needed at this important time.
A death and resurrection is at hand. This might be expected in an apocalyptic time like ours, one where the “end time” of our modern era is fast receding and we reach for new visions. Apocalypse, after all, can also be translated as “Revelation.”
We feel that this vision, laid out in a short book, has precedents in our Western, Eastern, and Indigenous histories. What we are proposing came to us in different ways as visions and dreams several years ago. It is about a new spiritual (not religious) Order.
We say “not religious” because it will not be beholden to any religious headquarters or to only one religious tradition. More and more people are open in our times to the many spiritual traditions and practices that sustain life.
Many of us are identifying ourselves at this time in history as “spiritual but not religious.” At the same time we believe it is possible for some people to be both spiritual and religious, but people must make an effort; all spirituality requires effort through presence, intention, and direct action. We include action because we are in a time when contemplation alone is insufficient in addressing the needs of our times and the more-than-human world.
So our vision of a new order extends to those who call themselves spiritual but not religious, to those who identify as spiritual and religious, and also to those who may call themselves either agnostic or atheist and feel the creative potential to build a community vessel such as the Order of the Sacred Earth (OSE). What is at stake is not a particular religious or spiritual tradition but something much larger than our particular religions: the future of Mother Earth, and, therefore, the future of countless species including our own. All are endangered. Humans can and must make a difference.
The essence of OSE is a common vow we all will make: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of Mother Earth that I can be.” This sacred pledge is a wisdom practice that we can continually refine and develop as we evolve. This vow will underscore the principles through which we operate and the values we strive to fulfill. We are all beginners in this sacred work, both inner and outer. We are not here to judge one another but to support each other in our common efforts—efforts that include transforming ourselves beyond the anthropocentric consciousness we have all inherited from the modern era—as well as efforts to transform the institutions that buttress our culture whether we are talking about education, politics, economics, agriculture, religion, or relationships.
Networking with other individuals and organizations doing similar work and bringing such activists together to develop a deeper spiritual grounding will be part of our shared work and what OSE can offer. We can share in person, online, and in regional gatherings and perhaps in an annual gathering.