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Sheer Joy

Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Fox, who was a Dominican friar for thirty-three years until he was expelled by the Vatican for teaching creation spirituality, the divine feminine, liberation theology, and original blessing in preference to original sin recognizes himself as a brother to Aquinas who was a Dominican for thirty years and was condemned by three bishops shortly after he died at the age of forty nine.

In his book Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, Fox set out to find a way for today’s spiritual seekers to understand Aquinas whose works, set in a scholastic mode of learning, often prove difficult for contemporary minds to cipher.

Fox chose to interview Aquinas and thus descholasticize him. He poses contemporary questions to Aquinas and every answer Aquinas offers is drawn straight from his writings.  A genuine conversation takes place.


Fox places Aquinas squarely within the lineage of Hildegard, Francis, Eckhart, and other champions of Creation Spirituality tradition and brings into the dialogs many of Aquinas’ works that had never before been translated into English, German, French or even Italian.  This includes his very first and most mystical work, his Commentary on Pseudo Denis’ “Divine Names” and many of his Biblical commentaries such as those on the Psalms, Isaiah,  Job, John’s Gospel and more.

Whole new dimensions of Aquinas come through that appear fresh, new and very relevant to today’s spiritual search.  Fox discovers for example many Buddhist dimensions to Aquinas’ teachings on contemplation as well as a very rich development of prophetic spirituality including his Environmental teachings[1]

Come and interact with one of the greatest minds (and souls) of Western culture.  Aquinas insisted on taking the best (and very controversial) scientist of his day, Aristotle, who was being translated in Islamic centers in Baghdad, into the heart of Christian theology and paid a heavy price for doing so.


British scientist Rupert Sheldrake writes in his Foreword to Sheer Joy: Aquinas “was what we would now call a holistic thinker, but he went much further than most modern holists in recognizing the all-pervasive influence of the spiritual realm….Until now, Aquinas’s insights have bene hidden behind a fog of scholastic and neoschoalstic commentary and interpretation.  This book changes all that.  Matthew Fox allows Aquinas to speak for himself, and at the same time the dialogue enables the relevance of what he says to come across with great clarity.  After more than seven centuries, we can meet Aquinas again and hear what he has to say to us.” 

Father Bede Griffiths writes in the Afterword: “Sheer Joy is a work of major importance not only for the church and the Dominican order but also for the wider world, which is looking for a philosophy that can act as a guide in the moral, social, and political problems of the world today…..The teaching of Aquinas comes through with a fullness and an insight that has never been represented in English before, and that moreover is shown to have a vital message for the world today.”

National Catholic Reporter writes: “The sheer joy of the shared commitment of Aquinas and Fox to creation spirituality is contagious and pervades almost every page of this big volume  Fox is doing us a great service by presenting us the best of Aquinas and doing brother Thomas a service by making him live again” 


[1] See Matthew Fox, “Thomas Aquinas: Mystic and Prophet of the Environment,” in Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life, 105-114. Fox and scientist Rupert Sheldrake address Aquinas’ teachings on angels in The Physics of Angels, pp. 77-136.

Review & Commentary