I received this in an email:
I am pleased to announced that we have just booked Matthew Fox for the next Jarvis Lecture on Christianity and Culture. Controversial, stimulating, and widely respected by many, Matthew Fox has offered a steady critique of religion and culture for several decades. Some of Fox’s writings on original sin put him in conflict with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Roman Catholic office charged with safeguarding Catholic doctrine. Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), prohibited Fox from teaching. Fox was eventually removed from his Dominican order. He is now an Episcopal priest. He continues to write and lecture on a wide range of topics under the general theme of “creation spirituality” and “original blessing.” He will speak on November 9, 2010 in Wright Auditorium with the topic “Reinventing Christianity.” In the coming months, I will provide more information about his life and writings.
The question I have to ask is: Why? Why are we having Matthew Fox show up to speak? Fox is controversial only in the same sense that Kent Hovind (“Dr. Dino“) is. They both say ridiculous and stupid things about that which they haven’t a clue. My entire senior religion seminar has been on Matthew Fox, so I’ve read several of his books – they’re all filled with historical inaccuracies, misquotes of historical persons, and outright lies. Here’s one from his most recent The Hidden Spirituality of Men, “The early Christians were very aware of astrological metaphors…IXTHOS (sic), the Greek word for ‘fish,’ became an acronym for ‘Jesus Christ Son of God.’ This symbol was scratched on many walls in the catacombs where Christians hid to perform their memory rituals and to bury their dead.” (p 249-250). He misspells ΙΧΘΥΣ, doesn’t get the acronym correct, assigns ‘astrological meaning’ to it (?), and then says the Christians ‘hid’ in the catacombs. Which catacombs? The ones outside of Rome, prior to the peace of Constantine, had signs outside of them warning the Christians not to go in, on top of the fact that the catacombs are rather dark, musty, and cramped spaces…seems like a bad hiding spot. And what are memory rituals?!
When I was at Notre Dame and I ashamedly told some of the professors what my senior religion seminar was on, they all (literally all) gave me a weird look and just said…”But why?” Exactly! We would have been better served having spent the semester reading Augustine rather than someone who complains about Augustine in almost every book (he assigns blame to Augustine for anything in Western culture he doesn’t like, from original sin to Descartes). So for ECU to invite him to a lecture series that has included people like Walter Brueggemann, Marcus Borg, etc, seems a little odd.