Review: Occupy Spirituality by Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox

imagesI’ve expressed my disenchantment with the Occupy movement in a previous post, but perhaps there has been a part of me that wished that Occupy Wall Street had had more success than it did.  It’s still going on,  I know, but most of us have just moved on.   Perhaps our disillusionment is unfounded, though, considering the groups that grew out of the initial movement (Strike Debt for example), and the fact that this did indeed demonstrate that the Millenial generation wasn’t unwilling to stand for something.  The problem, in my opinion, that no one really knew what that was.

So, when The SpeakEasy put out a call for authors to review Occupy Spirituality, I felt a little bit of excitement.  I had read Matthew Fox’s Letters to Pope Francis, and Adam Bucko, his coauthor, certainly has led a life of spiritual searching incomparable to much of the shallow spiritual inspiration books in our bookstores these days, so why shouldn’t this be a good book?   My own feelings about the Occupy movement aside, these two were steeped in many things more than just that, and certainly had a unique perspective to offer on the spiritual hunger of the Millenials and how it came to be expressed at the Occupy encampments across the country.  My hopes, however, were dashed pretty quickly.

First, the style.  Bucko and Fox wanted to “consciously and deliberately write this book as a dialogue,” because they felt that represented the best way to communicate ideas, and they wanted it to represent an exchange between two generations.  While the sentiment is nice, I feel like it went up like a lead balloon. For one, dialogue is indeed a great way to communicate ideas, but two people talking to each other through a book isn’t a dialogue.  All the reader gets to do is listen to these two talk to each other about ideas they already agree on (this is where the “exchange between two generations” fails; Fox might be older than Bucko, but other than that, they’re pretty much on the same page). Second, the dialogue angle doesn’t feel natural at all.  It sounds like a mixture of interviewing and selective hearing.  Fox will say something for a page or so, and then Bucko will latch onto one particular idea and relate an experience, then ignore the rest of what Fox said.  Half the time, I couldn’t tell what was being communicated because of this strange back and forth that seemed to go nowhere (kind of like the Occupy movement…hmmmm…).

Beyond the confusing presentation of ideas, the entirety of the book seems to be more like a chance for Fox to make his teachings on Creation Spirituality relevant to a new generation (since the last one seems to have not caught on very well to it), and Bucko’s just along for the ride because he happens to be younger than Fox. I’ve got no beef with the ideals of Creation Spirituality, but this presentation just reeks of an older dude trying too hard to be cool, and Millenials will smell that a mile away.  The fact that they kept pointing out things in OWS that looked like Creation Spirituality kind of irked me too.  It didn’t matter what it was; somehow, Fox would say, “this is where Creation Spirituality would help!” It almost felt like desperation, sometimes.

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m being too harsh. I mean, I’m glad that some people have gotten a lot from Fox’s Cosmic Masses; more power to them!  I just think this isn’t the way to present them, or any of these ideas, for that matter.  Both Fox and Bucko do definitely have a lot to offer Millenials in the avenue of renewed spirituality and hope for the future; I just hate their presentation, and maybe all that means is that this isn’t my cup of tea.  It might be yours, though.

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