Matt Fox's WorksAs a graduate of a Catholic seminary (the...


April 29, 1994

Matt Fox's Works

As a graduate of a Catholic seminary (the Washington Theological Union), I feel I am in a position to comment on Frank Somerville's article on Matthew Fox (April 8).

While much of the article is consistent with what I know of Matthew Fox, Frank Somerville made some statements that I believe are misleading at best. Having been the subject of newspaper articles myself, I know how easy it is for a reporter who may not be well versed in the subject matter to create impressions that are misleading.

The author states that the "most usual criticism" of Matt Fox's works "is that they are a pandering blend of New Age pop culture and Christian mysticism -- lightweight if not heretical."

These criticisms exhibit a lack of understanding of Matt Fox's theology. It is not New Age. It is not heretical. I have a letter from Matt Fox's former Dominican superior which states clearly that nothing Matt is teaching is heretical. If the Vatican could have charged him with heresy, it would have.

And it most assuredly is not lightweight. One of the criticisms Somerville quotes is that creation spiritually is "but one more technique to be purchased by bored middle-class consumers in their on-going search for meaning and fulfillment, without any threat to their lifestyle."

Hardly the case! My encounter with creation spirituality has led me to go to school for five years to get a graduate degree in theology, quit my nice secure government job, and devote the rest of my life to helping people on an authentic spiritual path. It most assuredly has been a threat to my lifestyle. And I am not alone.

Finally, Matt has brought to the forefront authentic strands of the Catholic mystical tradition -- people like Meister Eckhart, Hildegarde of Bingen, Nicholas of Cusa, Julian of Norwich, Mechtilde of Magdenburg.

People who would never have been reading John of the Cross are reading him because of Matt Fox. And it is changing their lives. History will be the judge of whether this is an authentic movement of the Spirit. History will be able to tell by the fruits of Matt Fox's work. "By their fruits you will know them."

Jean Sonnenberg


No Deterrence

If corporal punishment is such an effective deterrent to criminal behavior, how do we account for the fact that the majority of violent offenders in our prisons today were physically abused while growing up?

Cathy Hall


Singapore Housing

Perhaps we should look to Singapore for an answer. No, not caning to curb crime, but for housing.

Neal R. Peirce, "The Right to Security in the Home Becomes a Constitutional Abstraction," (Opinion * Commentary, April 18) says that "the huge garrison-like public-housing structures, monuments to segregation politics, must be demolished, and their residents provided safe shelters elsewhere."

In his article on Singapore April 17, Robert Benjamin cites Singapore's "brilliant housing policies, which created a stable backbone of homeowners."

He goes on to say that all Singapore workers must contribute about 20 percent of their salaries to a government retirement fund, to which employers contribute matching funds. This money can be used for buying apartments in government housing or for buying blue-chip stocks.

Worth a look.

Tom Gill

North Beach

Cumulative Voting

How could you doubt that cumulative voting is less racially polarizing than race-based districts? (Editorial, April 18.) You are to be congratulated, however, for stating that it ". . . may even be more racially polarizing" because of the un-explicitly mentioned implication that it may not be more racially polarizing.

You state that in a particular election, if all blacks chose to cast all five votes for one candidate, that candidate could not lose.

You failed to state that in the same election, if all whites chose to cast all five votes for one candidate, that candidate could not lose. This, in spite of alleging that cumulative voting would encourage all blacks (whites) to vote only for a black (white) candidate.

At the onset of cumulative voting, it is clear that candidates will behave in their campaigns as you suggest -- ignoring the other race as they seek votes.

And voters, too, will tend to vote strictly along racial lines. The degree to which this occurs and the length of time this behavior would continue depends upon the depth of the divide in that community along with the quality of the political and communications leadership.

Just by living, voters have experiences. Elections occur on a fairly regular basis, and as each one occurs, the voters' experiences get reflected in their votes.

Although the cumulative voting idea has been around a while, we in the '90s can regard it as a piece of modern technology -- an automated way to adjust to voters' experiences far superior to what could be achieved with race-based districts.

"One man, one vote" seems exactly equivalent to "all men, five votes." "Smart money" (and even some "dumb money") says the Supreme Court will rule in favor of cumulative voting.

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