Despite the fact that some have labeled millennials the “entitled generation,” the truth is that millennials are, by and large, a generation of givers. They want to pursue non-profit work where their skills and occupations give something back to the world, and they value finding a vocation over landing a six-figure salary. Occupy Spirituality offers a creative and transformative way of being in the world that speaks to this generation and seeks to nurture its desire to work toward healing and well-being.
Occupy Spirituality is a dialogue between Adam Bucko, co-founder of Reciprocity Foundation, and Matthew Fox, long time spiritual theologian and activist. Together the two trace out a new kind of spirituality that speaks to a younger generation of activists who are ready to help change the world. They realize that they are writing to a post-religious culture, meaning that the religious hierarchies and structures so foundational for much of modernity are now either dying or are irrelevant to many in younger generations. This realization, however, doesn’t squelch the practices included in their spirituality, but rather frees them to explore new traditions and practices as well as to uncover older traditions from other religions and cultures.
Bucko and Fox name seven points regarding the spirituality they develop and practice. This new spirituality is:
- deeply ecumenical, inter-spiritual and post-traditional
- contemplative and experience based–it starts from experience but uses concepts to bring one to a deeper understanding of experience
- inclusive of other types of contemplative practices (ie. yoga, massage, deep human relationships)
- “about action that comes from one’s deepest calling”
- inclusive of joy, sensuality, celebration and “heartful aliveness”
- more democratic
- intended to be lived in communities
In the book Fox and Bucko describe their own personal transformations that include realizations that spirituality is not about escaping the world but about engaging more deeply with the world. Thus the new kind of spirituality they articulate focuses on making connections with others and with the world in which we live with the idea that these connections make us more inclined to break the power strutters that cause suffering to people and things we value. It talks about deeper engagement through encounters with the natural world, through intentional development of deep friendships and mentorships, through ritual and meditation, and through living in community with like-minded people who also want to deepen their engagement with others and the world.
What I found most refreshing and exciting about this book was Fox and Bucko’s eagerness to stand up to and call into question the power structures and hierarchies that are making our world a more challenging place to live for younger generations. They are quite willing to point out the evil of corporate greed and the absurdity of the increasing distance between the 99% and the 1%. Yet they don’t respond with anger; they respond with constructive alternatives and creative ways to steer one’s energy toward bettering the world. Matthew Fox, in fact, mentions a number of times in the dialogue that if we don’t like the world in which we live, we should go out and create a new one. The spirituality they describe gives us the resources necessary for sustaining ourselves as we take on that challenge, as we go about the work of recreating the world.
While there is much in this book that is geared toward the millennial generation, persons young and old and in between can find practices, traditions, and discussions within its pages that will spur our hearts, minds, and bodies toward creative transformation.